Ricciardo glad to be ‘smashing it out’ after difficult AlphaTauri return
By Ian Parkes
Thursday 26th October, 2023 - 5:00am
Daniel Ricciardo is relieved to be facing another two grands prix in quick succession in a bid to help him swiftly get back up to speed following a tricky return to F1 over the United States Grand Prix weekend.
Following a two-month, five-race lay-off after breaking a metacarpal in his left hand in seven places, and which required eight screws to aid the repair, Ricciardo at least felt happy with how his hand stood up to the strain of a sprint weekend, and his overall fitness.
On track with AlphaTauri, however, was a different story as the 34-year-old endured a mixed bag of results across the weekend, culminating in him ending up last of the 17 classified finishers, albeit there were extenuating circumstances.
Ricciardo’s AT04 sustained damage to brake duct parts which, according to technical director Jody Egginton resulted “in a significant loss of aero load and aero balance, meaning he was unable to run at the pace he was capable of and fell back into the chasing pack”.
As the first race in a triple-header, Ricciardo is appreciative of the steep learning curve ahead as F1 now heads to Mexico and Brazil.
Asked by Speedcafe as to how much the back-to-back nature of this part of the season will aid his comeback, he replied: “A lot.
“Most of our day (in Austin) was mostly misfortune, let’s say,” said Ricciardo. “For sure, there are still some things to work on, I think from the team side but also from myself.
“Even like the first stint, the timing of the (first pit) stop wasn’t great, but I always hold myself accountable and be like ‘Okay, could I have read that a little bit better? Should I have tried to be more proactive?’
“I’ll always be a little bit critical of myself, there are some things we can do better, so I’m glad we don’t have too much of a break.
“Also for my race fitness, just to keep smashing it out now is good because the race was a long one, but I think we’ll quickly learn from this.”
Ricciardo at least felt happy any lingering race rust he still felt after the 19-lap sprint on Saturday, for which he had qualified a superb 11th after missing out on a place in the top-10 shoot-out by just 0.031secs, had fallen away.
Going forward, it is now about he and the team working more collaboratively during a race as he felt “at times we lacked communication”.
He added: “Especially once I got the damage, nothing really felt that constructive to give back because we’re working with a suboptimal car.
“The only thing I’d maybe question is, as we started getting blue flags, maybe I should have asked a few more questions.”
In terms of overall satisfaction from his weekend overall, the Australian claimed there were “elements” that pleased him.
“For sure, there are things from which I take confidence, obviously, like some race fitness, the hand, a few things,” he assessed.
“Even just getting behind the wheel in FP1, like lap one, I felt I was able to push and lean on it.
“So there’s certainly some inner confidence in that, but I would say in race conditions, next weekend I’ll do better.”