Formula One

Ricciardo keen to avoid with AlphaTauri ‘trap’ endured with McLaren

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Daniel Ricciardo says he’ll “just work” with AlphaTauri’s AT04, regardless of the car’s weaknesses, rather than lock himself in “a trap” of preconceived ideas as he did at McLaren.

Ricciardo aims to seize the opportunity offered by Red Bull and AlphaTauri to revive a career in F1 that ground to a halt at the end of last year after two fruitless seasons with McLaren.

Save for his unexpected win at the Italian Grand Prix in 2021, the Aussie consistently underperformed with the Woking-based outfit, and he reckons that the corner entry instability characteristics of McLaren’s machines were a crucial factor that undermined his efforts during his period with the team.

“I think that was probably what hurt me the last couple of years,” he acknowledged

“I started probably just falling into a little bit of a trap where I was like ‘yeah this car doesn’t suit me and I need to work around this and this and this’.

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“You can probably be your own worst enemy as well. I go back to my first quali with McLaren, I did a great quali and that was when I kind of didn’t know so much yet.

“So I’m not really thinking ‘I know the car will have limitations’. I’m sure it’s not going to feel as good as the car I drove a week ago but I’ll just work with that.

“I drove it on the sim and it felt okay. I think it was a solid day on the sim. We obviously need to see if that translates but ask me tomorrow after I’ve driven it.”

©AlphaTauri

Ricciardo, who owes his return to the grid this weekend in large part to his impressive performance with Red Bull’s RB19 in last week’s Pirelli tyre test at Silverstone, underscored the necessity to “start fresh” with AlphaTauri in terms of his expectations of the Faenza squad’s car.

Stepping out of the fastest car on the grid into the slowest contender, one would inevitablt feel inclined to draw comparisons.

“Yeah, look, it is different for sure,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of things. It helps driving a good car, because it gives you something to aim for in terms of development, setup, and where there is potential within these regulations.

“But also, in saying that, I also need to erase a lot of that from my mind and start fresh with AlphaTauri. This is it, this is what it is, and we need to move forward from here.”

Ricciardo has spoken about how “the luxury of time” he has enjoyed since the end of last year has rekindled his passion for F1. And last week’s test confirmed his revived sentiment.

The 34-year-old will now embrace the opportunity, or second chance that he has been handed, and he’ll approach it with a relaxed mindset but one that is also aware of the task at hand.

“Yeah there was a lot I learned,” he said, referring to his six months on the sidelines.

“Not only just singling the last two years or whatever, but over my career I look back on and having the last six months to reflect on my career, I’ve been able to see a few things where ‘oh yeah I would have probably done that a bit different, or I should have probably changed that, or spoke up about that’.

“The fact is, yes I’ve driven the simulator, but [until] last week I hadn’t driven a car in eight months. I haven’t really been doing anything driving-wise. I haven’t driven F3s or go-karts. I’ve just been really switching off from that.

“I appreciate the car [RB19] is very good, it’s the best on the grid at the moment, but I just got in it and I drove. I didn’t really think about anything, I just drove and had fun.

“Obviously the times were good and I was competitive but as a junior coming up, you are pretty ignorant and you don’t know much. You just race cars because it’s what you love doing.

“There’s going to be a lot to learn and I’m not going to solve everything this weekend.

“So it’s just really about focusing on using the things I do well. And I think that will translate into some more positive outcomes.”

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Ricciardo keen to avoid with AlphaTauri ‘trap’ endured with McLaren F1i.com.

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