Ricciardo temporarily joined his previous team, Red Bull, starting from Budapest, to take the place of the removed Nyck de Vries.
De Vries faced difficulty with the AT04’s weakness when entering corners, which was also a problem experienced by Ricciardo during his challenging period at McLaren.
Ricciardo said he quickly felt at home in the car following his eight-month sabbatical, as he out-qualified team-mate Yuki Tsunoda and finished 13th despite being punted off by Zhou Guanyu at the start.
According to Jonathan Eddolls, the head of trackside engineering at AlphaTauri, the unique features of the curvy Hungaroring circuit and the high temperatures have concealed certain handling issues of the car. It remains uncertain how Ricciardo will adapt to his new vehicle.
When questioned by Motorsport.com prior to the race about whether AlphaTauri’s weakness in corner entry was still noticeable, Eddolls responded: “In fact, that hasn’t been one of the major constraints during the weekend so far, as the grip of the tires and the downforce have somewhat concealed it. It hasn’t posed much of a problem here.”
It is worth noting that at this point, we are reaching the highest level of downforce with extremely flexible tires. Additionally, it is possible to use these tires at very low pressures, among the lowest seen throughout the season due to the specific nature of the track.
Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
According to Eddolls, the team is still working on improving its weakness in corner entry, even though they have made some recent upgrades such as adjusting the floor and adding new front and rear wings.
Eddolls stated that the updates are intended to tackle the issue. He clarified that while it cannot be guaranteed that the problem has been completely resolved, the drivers have refrained from providing feedback, which is understandable. Therefore, the chosen course of action remains unchanged.
He added that 34-year-old Ricciardo hadn’t reported any significant weakness or shortcoming of how his car behaves, but just confirmed the team’s need to add more aerodynamic load to the car in order to gain a foothold in the midfield.
The feedback we have received from Daniel so far confirms that we are heading in the right direction, as we require additional downforce.
“He mentioned, as we are all aware, that our team was slightly deficient in downforce compared to the leading teams. However, he has not yet identified any major specific weaknesses, indicating that our car does not have any significant issues. It simply requires a slight increase in load to enhance our competitiveness.”
Ricciardo’s early second pitstop not only allowed him to undercut several drivers and salvage 13th after being stuck in traffic, but he explained the brief spell in clear air also give him much more information about what the car is capable of.
Ricciardo expressed the significance of the event, stating that it could have potentially resulted in a more disheartening race with lingering uncertainties.
“Just having the pace, having the clear air and making a few mistakes, learning from those, knowing what the car likes, what it doesn’t.
“I believe I have gained valuable knowledge from the race.”
Additional reporting by Matt Kew