Ricciardo’s second F1 outing with AlphaTauri was a tough ask as he was thrown into a sprint weekend that was impacted by rain, and with only the FP1 session in which to hone the set-up.
By committing a track limits violation at Eau Rouge during Q1, he worsened his situation and ended up starting in 19th place on the grid for the main race on Sunday, making his life more challenging.
On Saturday’s sprint, he received motivation from a satisfactory performance, securing 10th place on a rain-soaked racetrack.
In the dry grand prix, he showed some improvement in the beginning, but ultimately finished in 16th place. Meanwhile, his teammate Yuki Tsunoda performed admirably, fighting within the top 10 and earning the last point.
The Australian said he was missing front-end grip and ultimate performance for much of the race.
When asked about his race by Motorsport.com, Ricciardo expressed feeling somewhat restricted in terms of speed today.
I had a difficult time, even in good weather conditions. To be honest, I struggled with maintaining control in the front end, as well as navigating through the middle sector and high-speed areas. I constantly felt like I was losing control.
“It is likely that the issue was not with the lack of tire rotation, but rather insufficient traction being generated. Consequently, I experienced rapid sliding and overheating.”
Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
“In clear air, we didn’t break away from the pack, we couldn’t. It felt like they were able to get more out of their tyres early. So then I was normally getting overtaken, while we all had fresh tyres.
“Afterward, once everything calmed down, my speed improved slightly, but I remained trapped behind them. Additionally, we are aware that this situation is detrimental to the tires. Overall, it was a challenging race.”
“I don’t want to feel too disheartened. It was the only session without rain throughout the entire weekend, so there might be a straightforward issue with the configuration. We made a wrong decision, and that’s the end of it. However, I do wish I had the opportunity to be more aggressive.”
He stated, “I frequently encountered cars that were exceptionally fast on straight roads. Consequently, I observed numerous gearboxes today. Some individuals even use gearboxes as decorative items in their homes. However, it’s not my personal interest, so I have no desire to see any more of them!”
Ricciardo acknowledged that Spa revealed the flaws of the AT04 to a greater extent compared to the high downforce Hungaroring.
“I didn’t sense the car’s full power today,” he expressed. “Despite having the expected downforce, it seemed like we couldn’t fully maximize its potential with a fresh tire.”
“I didn’t quite experience the sensation of it biting and loading up. Therefore, we will make an effort to identify where we went wrong.”
“With the rain persisting throughout the weekend, the track had a fresh feel to it, giving off an impression of fairly typical conditions. The speed during the race seemed rather sluggish, possibly due to these factors. Ultimately, it’s all part of the learning process.”
“I believe I will continue to be quite critical of myself. However, I should not have high expectations right now. It’s all part of the learning process, but hopefully we will find some more solutions.”
Ricciardo acknowledged that his limited understanding of his vehicle and the current tires compared to his competitors played a role.
“I believe there is some truth to that, but I still think we overlooked some aspects. It’s probably a combination of both factors. Having said that, I’m relieved that I completed the entire race.”
There is much knowledge to acquire and share with the team. I noticed that Yuki finished in 10th place, indicating that he had a satisfactory race. Therefore, let’s also take the opportunity to learn from his performance.