Ricciardo’s three-year McLaren contract was ended one year early last winter after the Australian struggled to get on with the team’s F1 cars.
In the difficult-to-handle McLaren, Ricciardo was consistently behind team-mate Lando Norris during his two seasons in Woking, despite taking a shock win at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was then snapped up by Red Bull as a third driver during his sabbatical until he was loaned out to sister team AlphaTauri ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix as an early replacement for Nyck de Vries.
Ricciardo impressed on his first outings with the tricky AT04 and while he still needs to fully adapt to the car, he vowed never to go to the level of detail that he went through at McLaren.
According to team boss Christian Horner, Ricciardo’s return to the Red Bull simulator after changing his driving style at McLaren was so different that he seemed like a completely different person. Ricciardo had to work on rebuilding his confidence in subsequent runs and during a successful tyre test at Silverstone.
When asked if Ricciardo had to dig as deep as he did at McLaren to get up to speed in the AlphaTauri, Ricciardo replied: “I don’t want to get into that detail ever again.
During my first year at McLaren, I realized by the summer break that we were possibly overdoing things. It became clear that we needed to adjust our approach slightly.
Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Everyone had good intentions in attempting to make it successful, but I have recently come to the understanding that it was not suitable for me. Looking back, we may have done excessive things, but perhaps those actions would be beneficial for another driver. Therefore, the situation remains as it is.
Ricciardo mentioned that upon rejoining the Faenza team, he was able to employ his innate driving technique and discovered that the AlphaTauri was more suitable for him, despite having less aerodynamic downforce compared to its rivals.
When asked about the comparison between the AlphaTauri AT04 and his previous McLaren, Ricciardo expressed that he sensed a slight improvement. He mentioned that even on the first lap, he started to receive the feedback he anticipated and appreciated, which he considered significant.
“I may come across tasks that require my attention and do not completely align with my emotions, so I anticipate encountering some potential difficulties throughout the journey.”
However, my initial reaction was that it provided me with a slightly more recognizable sensation. This was significant as I desired to experience something similar.
Additional reporting by Matt Kew