Daniel Ricciardo has explained how confidence in the corner entry phase with AlphaTauri’s 2023 car has seen him overcome the issues that blighted his McLaren spell.

Ricciardo was axed by McLaren at the end of 2022 after two tumultuous seasons with the team, where he was comprehensively outclassed by team-mate Lando Norris.

Despite securing a memorable victory for the Woking squad at Monza in 2021, Ricciardo struggled to get on top of cars designed by McLaren across two regulation cycles.

Upon his return to the Red Bull fraternity earlier this year, the Austrian side’s Team Principal, Christian Horner, relayed the Australian had picked up some “bad habits”.

But having ironed out those issues in the simulator and earned an F1 reprieve with AlphaTauri, Ricciardo qualified fourth and finished seventh in Mexico last weekend.

Asked after Saturday’s qualifying hour at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez what had inspired him to hit the ground running with AlphaTauri’s AT04 charger, Ricciardo said: “Definitely it’s corner entry, I think.

“As drivers, we’ll complain about a lot of things, we want traction, we want this, we want that. If you can have that confidence in the corner entry, that’s where it all starts. You get the entry right, then the mid-corner helps the exit. Just that kind of confidence I’ve had turning the car into the corner has been really important.

“Even when I first drove it in Budapest, I think it wasn’t, I think we qualified 13th or something, it wasn’t the fastest car but it gave me a feeling which I knew it was something I could start to build on, and start to drive to my strengths, and feel a bit like my old self.”

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) AlphaTauri AT04. 27.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Practice Day.

Ricciardo confirms that a failure to ever acclimatise his driving style to McLaren’s cars from the outset is the main factor that hampered his stint with the British outfit.

“Yeah, that was definitely something with McLaren that didn’t, we spoke about it, didn’t suit me and I couldn’t quite understand or get my head around it,” he explained.

“It’s nice to be able to now kind of set the car up a bit more to my liking, and hopefully this is the start of a consistently faster AlphaTauri.”

Ricciardo was only encountering the third weekend of his F1 comeback when a crash in FP2 at the Dutch Grand Prix sidelined him for five rounds with a broken left hand.

The eight-time race winner endured a tough return in Austin, stymied by the Sprint format permitting only one practice session before parc ferme regulations were enforced.

That was coupled with AlphaTauri introducing a Red-Bull inspired upgraded and various floor revisions since Ricciardo was last behind the wheel of the AT04.

But trialling a series of setup changes during practice that he had initially conducted in Zandvoort prior to his incident contributed to the turnaround he enjoyed in Mexico.

“To be honest, on my side we changed the car quite a bit from last week,” he revealed. “It was something, we made some changes already in Zandvoort for P2, that session where we crashed, and those few laps I did, I remember on the Hard we were competitive and I actually felt alright, this is the direction we should start going with setup.

“But then with Austin last week, we didn’t really have enough knowledge on it with only one session, you kind of have to race what you bring.

“I was very kind of excited to come into this weekend, try it and see what it felt like. Just I think with my driving style and where I’m at with the car, it was the direction that made me feel a little bit more confident. Already the car has been good to me, I felt good in it. This just made me lean on it a bit harder.”

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