Daniel Ricciardo is convinced that AlphaTauri will “definitely be faster” over the remainder of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix weekend despite a double Q1 exit on Friday.

AlphaTauri had spent FP1 focusing on the Hard and Medium compounds amid an effort to save extra sets of the Soft tyre for qualifying.

Despite holding that advantage, both drivers were unable to override the fine margins needed to advance beyond Q1 as Yuki Tsunoda and Ricciardo were eliminated in P16 and P17 respectively. Both drivers were half-a-tenth adrift of safety in a narrowly contested Q1 session.

“Actually the first run was strong,” reflected Ricciardo. “I think we were definitely a lot faster than the overall time shows.

“The last lap I honestly nearly had a spin in Turn 2. I came a bit hot into Turn 1 and probably didn’t get the tires in the right spot for the start of the lap so we had already lost a chunk in the first sector.

“Little bits and pieces through the lap [could have been improved]. A little bit in Turn 6 [too]… I’ll have a look. It’s frustrating because we were definitely faster than that.”

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) AlphaTauri AT04.
03.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Qualifying Day.
– www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Price / XPB Images

Ricciardo noted that he had struggled with the AT04 in practice, but a host of changes made before qualifying improved the Australian’s comfort behind the wheel.

“This morning we struggled but we changed the car quite a bit for quali,” he continued. “As I mentioned, that first run we were P5 or P6 at the time so we definitely looked with a chance of advancing through to Q2, and potentially Q3.

“Obviously that last lap we didn’t get it right. Obviously [I’m] mostly frustrated with that, but on the other hand I’m happy with the improvements I found in the car compared to the morning.”

Tsunoda, who will line up P16 on Sunday, had struggled to find clean air during qualifying after being caught out by cars slowing in the pitlane.

That came despite a new FIA directive being issued this weekend, which caught out George Russell and the Alpine drivers at various stages.

“The last run I didn’t have clean air,” said a deflated Tsunoda. “[I] Got a lot of distractions from others and that affected it a lot.

“I felt I wasn’t able to maximise it but the pace, I was not really on it today. Even if we got through we probably would have been out in Q2 so we need to look through what’s happened there and see how it goes.”

AlphaTauri had hoped to continue to close the gap to Williams in the Constructors’ Championship after Ricciardo’s impressive seventh-place finish in Mexico

However, Friday’s struggles will only make that task more challenging come Sunday when the most points are on offer.

“It’s not easy but I will try my best,” the 23-year-old added. “For now, we can’t change the car setup until Sunday so most of it I have to extract from the car but I will [also] try my best to improve myself”

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