Ricciardo in ‘different league’ with lack of grip in Vegas

Daniel Ricciardo claimed he was in a 'different league' as he struggled for grip in Las Vegas. Image: XPB Images

Daniel Ricciardo claimed he was in a ‘different league’ as he struggled for grip in Las Vegas. Image: XPB Images

A lack of grip for Scuderia AlphaTauri left Daniel Ricciardo feeling like he was in a different league to the cars he was racing in Las Vegas.

The Australian qualified 15th, improving just one place over the course of the 50-lap race that saw three retirements.

One of those was Ricciardo’s Scuderia AlphaTauri team-mate, Yuki Tsunoda, who failed to see the flag with gearbox issues after starting last.

Lando Norris and Nico Hulkenberg also failed to reach the finish, the duo starting one spot behind and in front of the Aussie respectively.

Heading into the race, Ricciardo had hoped for forward progress given his car’s usual ability to preserve its tyres, but that was not the case.

“I was coming to the race optimistic. I think there was still a bit of a reality that maybe it will be okay, maybe it won’t,” Ricciardo said.

“Unfortunately, maybe it wasn’t.

“We knew the race start, restarts, we would struggle because we’ve just definitely missed something here this weekend, getting the tyre working on the slippery asphalt when it’s still cold, or a new tyre.

“But even with that, I felt ‘okay, after a couple laps we’ll get some temperature and then be able to get back on to the pack.

“But we never really got there, and I think the restarts didn’t help us.

“That’s not an excuse, it’s just something that we lacked this weekend.”

Such were Ricciardo’s struggles that he found himself unable to match the grip of his rivals in key areas.

Worse, they were able to make short work of the Australian despite the eight-time race winner being on the gripper line.

“We were operating on a different level of grip compared to the others,” he admitted.

“I was getting overtaking on the outside of Turn 3 which, take my word for it, the outside of Turn 3 is really, really, really slippery.

“So the fact they were getting me on the outside, I was like, ‘man, we are definitely operation in a different league.’

“So we’ve got some homework to do,” he added.

“Next week is a different story, so we’ll focus on that.”

Formula 1 now heads to the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi for the final round of the 2023 season, starting on Friday.

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