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Formula 1 Belgian GP

Ricciardo chasing answers after struggling to get AlphaTauri F1 car to “bite”

Daniel Ricciardo says he was left looking for answers after struggling for “bite” and grip in the Formula 1 Belgian GP.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

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.

He made his life more difficult by losing his best time in Q1 to a track limits offence at Eau Rouge, which consigned him to 19th on the grid for Sunday’s main race.

In Saturday's sprint he was encouraged by a decent run to 10th place on a wet track.

In the dry grand prix he made some progress in the early stages but was eventually classified 16th on a day when team-mate Yuki Tsunoda impressed by battling inside the top 10 and taking the final point.

The Australian said he was missing front-end grip and ultimate performance for much of the race.

“I felt quite, let's say, limited today in terms of pace,” said Ricciardo when asked about his race by Motorsport.com.

“I think even in clear air I was struggling a lot. Honestly, just getting the front [end], all through the middle sector, all the high speed [sections], I was just washing, washing [out].

“It was probably not that we weren’t turning the tyres on, but probably just not producing enough grip, and then I was sliding and overheating really quickly.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

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.

“And then when it settled, I'd have a bit better pace, but stuck behind them. And then obviously, we know that's not good for tyres as well. So a bit of a tough race.

“I don't want to be too discouraged, it was our only dry session all weekend, so it could be something simple with set-up, we went the wrong way, and that's that. But yeah, I just wish I could have been able to attack a little more.”

He added: “I was always around cars that were really quick on the straight as well. So I was watching a lot of gearboxes today. People have gearboxes as like mantlepieces in their house. It's not really my thing, so I don't need to see any more!”

Ricciardo agreed that Spa highlighted the weaknesses of the AT04 more than the high downforce Hungaroring.

“For me today, I didn't feel like the car was on,” he said. “So even for the given downforce I felt like with a new tyre we weren't really getting that peak out of it.

“And I wasn't really feeling it kind of bite and load up. So that's probably the thing where we’ll obviously try to understand where we missed.

“Especially with the rain all weekend, the track felt green, it did feel like it was pretty average conditions. The race pace felt quite slow. So all these things probably contribute. It's all learning.

“I think as well I'm always going to be quite hard on myself. But I shouldn't be expecting the world at the moment. It's all learning, but hopefully we’ll get a few more answers.”

Ricciardo agreed that his lack of knowledge of his car and the current tyres relative to rivals was a factor.

“I'm sure there's a little bit [of that], but yeah, I still feel like we missed a little bit. I'm sure it's a bit of both. In saying that, I'm glad again I got the race distance.

"A lot to learn, a lot to feed back to the team. I saw Yuki got 10th. So it looked like he had a decent race. So try to learn a bit from that as well.”

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