How an AlphaTauri breakthrough unlocked Ricciardo’s potential

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AlphaTauri has detailed how a breakthrough in its car setup has
enabled Daniel Ricciardo to exploit the untapped potential in the
AT04. Ricciardo rejoined the team on-loan from Red Bull mid-way
through the season as replacement for the ousted Nyck de Vries,
starting with the Hungarian Grand Prix followed by the Sprint
Belgian weekend. In practice for the Dutch GP, Ricciardo crashed
breaking his metacarpal as his comeback was halted, only returning
for the United States GP – another Sprint weekend. He followed
team-mate Yuki Tsunoda's set-up in Austin, before the ‘normal'
Mexico City Grand Prix allowed the team to experiment with a
machine that had been one of the slowest on the grid before
incremental updates have pushed it towards a points troubler.
Ricciardo was branded one of the most consistent drivers throughout
the event in Mexico, as the performance of other teams fluctuated.
With the team utilising a “trick” cooling technique involving
smaller louvre outlets to minimise drag, Ricciardo ended each
session with a top ten time. During the race he produced his best
result since his comeback, taking home seventh and crucially moving
the team closer to ninth in the Constructors' Championship having
battled with the likes of and George Russell in the
Mercedes at various points in the race. Eddolls: No big fundamental
weakness in the car Head of Trackside Engineering, Jonathan
Eddolls, says one of the main impacts Ricciardo made was changing
the stability at the front end through high speed corners. “One of
his big limitations has been the front end coming back,” Eddolls
explained to media, including RacingNews365 . “The directions have
been to improve the front end of the car for him, accepting the
stability compromise. “But that then impacts the tyre temperatures
through the corner and throughout the lap.” This gave him greater
confidence, something he lacked through the years at McLaren which
eventually led to his performance deficit to Lando Norris. “I think
on the characteristics of the car, maybe we haven't quite got the
load or efficiency of some of the top teams,” added Eddolls. “But
there is no big fundamental weaknesses of the car, other than
lacking a bit of [aerodynamic] load. “The fact that it does the
same thing every lap, corner to corner, it's given him the
confidence to be able to throw the car into the corners and know
that it's going to stick and do the same thing every time.”
Ricciardo versus Tsunoda Compared to team-mate Yuki Tsunoda,
Eddolls notes that Ricciardo's driving style is different in
specific areas. “That the way he attacks the corners, hits the
brakes, the driving style is different,” said Eddolls. “Not only
from the mechanical or aero platform, but we know the Pirelli tyres
are quite sensitive. The way he drives, we can see different tyre
temperatures and different tyre temperature balances. “We're not
talking big numbers, but we can see differences in the way he
drives and makes the lap time in different parts of the corner.”

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