Ricciardo: “Now that I’m back in the sport… I want to make sure I’m kicking ass”

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Last Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix marked an important race for Daniel Ricciardo as he learns to acclimatise to Scuderia AlphaTauri, and the AT04.

Despite catching glimpses of the honey badgers’ race-winning potential, the Australian driver was challenged when trying to extract the maximum potential from the car.

Photo credit: Red Bull Content Pool

As the lights went out at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Ricciardo knew his starting position would present challenges. Beginning the race down in 19th, despite coming 10th in the Sprint race, he expressed how he felt limited by the AT04’s pace, struggling to find the grip needed for optimal performance, particularly at the Belgian circuit.

The car’s behaviour through high-speed corners in the middle sector proved problematic, resulting in a loss of front-end grip, leading to sliding and overheating tyres. Despite running in clear air later, Ricciardo couldn’t break away from the pack and had issues maintaining pace in relation to his competitors.

“I mean I honestly felt quite, let’s say, limited today in terms of pace, I think even in clear air I was struggling a lot.

“I felt like I was probably just not producing enough grip and then I was sliding and overheating really quickly.

“I don’t want to be too discouraged of course as well… I just wish I could have been able to attack a little more.”

Despite Ricciardo’s lack of familiarity with the car, he noted that there is room for improvement in maximising the AT04’s potential.

“I’m glad again I got the race distance done, a lot to learn, lots of feedback to the team.”

In spite of his own struggles throughout the race, Ricciardo congratulated his teammate.

“I saw Yuki got tenth, so it looked like he had a decent race so try to learn a bit from that as well.”

Belgium exposed the weaknesses within the car as Ricciardo explained that even on new tyres, they couldn’t maximise the potential from the dry compound during the race and struggled for speed.

“Even with a new tyre we weren’t really getting that peak out of it.

“It did feel like it was pretty average conditions, the race pace felt quite slow.”

Despite the challenging race, Ricciardo found solace in completing two races before the summer break. He claimed that the experience he gained will be instrumental in building a better foundation for the second half of the season.

“I’m always going to be quite hard on myself but yeah, I shouldn’t be expecting the world at the moment.

“I think it’s all learning but hopefully we get a few more answers from today.”

By leveraging the insights from Tsunoda’s performance, he aims to improve his own and work on optimising the car’s setup ahead of F1’s return towards the end of the month at the Dutch Grand Prix.

“I’m actually really glad I got these two before the break because it gives me something to certainly think about, build on, throw some questions back to the team. I feel like we’re going to get to Zandvoort being much better prepared than if Zandvoort was my first race.”

Acknowledging the difficulties that lie ahead with a car that will struggle on certain circuits, Ricciardo spoke about managing his expectations whilst improving alongside the team.

“I think it’s just tough when… you’re not really making progress… you’re trying a few things and when you try it doesn’t work.

“Nine days ago I hadn’t driven this car, so when I put everything into perspective I think we’re okay and from what I understand I think the few laps we got towards the end in clear air we actually were on a decent pace.

“Now that I’m back in the sport, I’ve got a taste, I want to make sure I’m kicking ass.”

With the summer break upon us, Ricciardo and the team have precious time to analyse race data, and emerge stronger for the next leg of the 2023 Formula One World Championship.