Daniel Ricciardo believes there is still more work to be done after qualifying 15th on his Formula 1 return at the United States Grand Prix.

The Australian has endured a five-race absence after injuring his left hand in Zandvoort. Ricciardo sustained seven fractures, requiring eight screws to repair the damage.

The Sprint format limited Ricciardo’s re-acclimatisation, with only one hour of practice behind the wheel of the AlphaTauri AT04 he has piloted on only three weekends this season.

Ricciardo saw his final Q2 attempt deleted after exceeding track limits, but the lap wouldn’t have been good enough to improve on his P15 starting spot.

“That lap was not any better, so that was a little bit of just hold it and see what happens because it was already feeling a bit poor,” Ricciardo told F1TV after the session.

“We were kind of fighting from the start a little bit. It’s hard obviously with one session [of practice], you kind of have to set up the car and it is what it is for quali.

“There’s a few things for sure I would have liked to get out of the car but it’s hard to really know how much we can do in an hour and then go straight into quali.

“Of course, I’d love more, I feel I could do more. But we got another chance tomorrow so we will try and learn from tonight.

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) AlphaTauri AT04.
20.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Qualifying Day
– www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

On returning to the cockpit for the first time since late August, the AlphaTauri driver said that the real limitations stemmed from the truncated practice running.

“There was nothing else holding me back today. Just trying to find a little bit of that feeling in the car and the set-up,” he added.

“As the track ramped up, we plateaued a bit and there’s a few things with setup… As always you could do a little bit more. [You think] maybe we could have gone in this direction, but we will see what we can discover tonight.

“I wish I wasn’t in 15th, but it’s still nice to be back behind the wheel and result aside, it’s been an enjoyable day.”

“There could be. I think that’s where it’s also hard with this format. You can’t do anything overnight and have to just wait for the wind to change and hope that your car feels different tomorrow.

“There’s things I can keep improving and a bit to still work on with the car setup.”

Ricciardo was outqualified by team-mate Yuki Tsunoda by three-tenths of a second on Friday.

While Tsunoda was left frustrated qualifying 11th after missing Q3 by 0.018s, the Japanese racer is confident that points are on the cards in the main race.

“To be honest, it’s always like this. It’s kind of jinxed this year, but to be honest, I’ve gotten used to it,” he bemoaned.

“Frustrating, but at the same time the teams in front of me have both their cars in the top 10, so I feel like we extracted the performance our car had today. 

“P11 isn’t a bad position to start in on Sunday because it’s close to the points, so I’m looking forward to it. Our race pace this morning during FP1 didn’t look bad, so the potential is there for tomorrow and Sunday.”

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