Daniel Ricciardo explains reasons behind anonymous F1 race return

Michelle Foster
AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo serious as he sits in his AT04.

Daniel Ricciardo had a "miserable" race in Austin, finishing down in 15th place.

Back in the AlphaTauri after a two-month injury lay-off, Daniel Ricciardo did not have the homecoming he’d dreamed of in what was a “miserable” United States Grand Prix.

Ricciardo lost his fastest lap time in Friday’s qualifying at the Circuit of The Americas, one of several drivers undone by a track limit violation.

That meant he was left down in 15th place on the grid with the Aussie clear that the result had “nothing to do with the hand” and that it was “good”.

Daniel Ricciardo was P15 and last in Austin

Starting the Grand Prix on the mediums he made good progress to run just outside of the points in 11th place.

However, his efforts to work his way into the top ten were undone when his AT04 sustained damage to the front of the car shortly after his first pit stop.

While the team pondered if there had been contact during a close tussle with Lance Stroll, Ricciardo reckons it was debris that turned his race on its head.

“We were just limited with damage, unfortunately,” he said as per Speedcafe. “We picked up some damage very shortly after (putting on) the hard (tyre) because we lost a lot of pace very quickly.

“I told the team ‘Sorry guys, I’ve got nothing right now. I really can’t do anything’.

“They said that it looked like we’ve lost something, and then they said, ‘Yeah, there’s damage to somewhere on the front of the car’.

“I guess it was debris. They mentioned Stroll. I think we got close, but I don’t think we touched, so I think we must have picked up some debris somewhere, and that made our race a pretty miserable one.

“I won’t lie, we’re at best a top-10 car but when you add damage into it, we are certainly out of the points.”

Conceding there was nothing he could do with his pace sorely limited, the Honey Badger and his AlphaTauri pit wall did give some consideration to retiring but opted to continue through to what was a bitter end with the driver P15, the last classified runner.

“We were on the hard with that damage and we stayed out,” he added.

“I was obviously trying not to be too negative, but I was saying ‘Guys, I can’t really do anything’ and kind of suggesting ‘Do we box and call it a day or try to fix it and learn something?’ because we weren’t learning anything.

“So it got to a point where I said ‘Okay, I’ll say ‘Can we fix it?’, so I asked and they said ‘Yeah, we’ll try to fix it up’.

“I don’t know if it (the problem) was front wing or brake duct but they put the soft (tyre) on and it was a bit better but still not that impressive, so I imagined maybe we still had some damage.”

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Ricciardo finds a silver lining to his Austin woes

There is one positive to come from Sunday’s Grand Prix in that Ricciardo went the full 56 laps without any problems with his left hand.

It had been claimed by Nico Rosberg a week before the Austin race that he wasn’t yet fully fit and had been struggling in the simulator.

Ricciardo not only quashed that in his pre-race weekend comments but showed on Sunday he can go the distance. And he says his hand still felt “okay”.

“I felt probably worse yesterday (after the Sprint) than today – I say worse but I was obviously still okay,” said the eight-time Grand Prix winner.

“But I felt like I got out of the car probably sweating more, so maybe that was just a good little warm-up for me.

“There are positives. The hand is no excuse, that was good, and we did well with the timing of the return, to kind of have no hesitations or excuses.

“Physically, it’s definitely a tough race and I still felt okay.”

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