Daniel Ricciardo says the Mexican Grand Prix was the “weekend I dreamed of” after scoring his first points since returning to Formula 1 with AlphaTauri.

Ricciardo started on the second row in Mexico following an impressive lap in qualifying, lining up between both Red Bull’s on the grid.

While he was unable to stay with the frontrunners, Ricciardo ran P5 for much of the first half of the race before dropping to P7 after losing two places following a red flag stoppage.

The result marks Ricciardo’s first points finish since returning to AlphaTauri mid-season and the Fazenza-based team’s best finish of 2023.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, Ricciardo said: “After last week, this is the weekend I dreamed of,” in reference to his difficult weekend in Austin where he returned to action following his recovery from injury at the Dutch Grand Prix.

“I feel good, better than good. Relieved as well, because two starts… you hold your breath because it’s such a long run to Turn 1 and anything can happen.”

Ricciardo was comfortably in the top five until Kevin Magnussen’s crash brought out the red flag, which left him vulnerable to the medium-tyre runners at the restart.

Despite losing a position to the Mercedes of George Russell as the race restarted and a recovering Lando Norris late on, Ricciardo came home in seventh to get himself off the mark this season.

While Ricciardo was frustrated by the timing of the red flag, he felt battling a Mercedes in the closing stages was enough satisfaction to make up for missing out on a potential top-five finish.

“It’s honestly the red flag that hurt us, but I don’t want to say it too selfishly because there was a big accident,” he said.

“Obviously, it bunched everyone up and allowed some cars to use a medium, which we didn’t have.

“But to still come out with seventh and six points, we have to be very happy.

“We got very close to George at the end. I think big picture, just to be battling the Mercedes at the end makes me more happy than [I’m sad at] missing out on sixth.”

Ricciardo’s first appearance since Zandvoort at last weekend’s US Grand Prix was blighted by the sprint weekend format, but the Australian took advantage of the three practice sessions in Mexico to find a strong car set-up.

“I’m not surprised we had a good weekend because I was just ready for it,” he added.

“The direction we went with the set-up, I knew that would allow me to just have a bit more confidence with the car.”

Ricciardo’s six-point haul in Mexico has elevated AlphaTauri from bottom of the constructors’ championship to ahead of Alfa Romeo in eighth place on count back.

His performance earned the praise of Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who felt Ricciardo showed he was back to his “old self”.

“It is great to see Daniel performing so well and fully endorses the reason why we brought him back into the AlphaTauri,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.

“I thought he was outstanding this weekend, fighting Mercedes in an AlphaTauri – and if it were not for the red flag, he’d have finished higher up, so it was a great performance and certainly looked like the Daniel of old this weekend.

“Look at the time delta to Max, it was less than a tenth so a remarkable performance by him.

“He’s back to his old self, you can see he is relaxed, he’s confident and he came into the weekend fully motivated after a tricky Austin coming back from injury.

“I thought he did a great job this weekend.”