Daniel Ricciardo was keen to turn the page on a “painful” weekend for Scuderia AlphaTauri in Las Vegas, with a brand-new cold track surface seeing the team struggle to generate tyre temperature and consigning the Australian to an anonymous 14th-place result on Saturday night.
A new circuit, no support categories on the event schedule and track temperatures that peaked in the teens all weekend for sessions that started after 10pm – and ran as late as 4am for second practice – played havoc with AlphaTauri’s grip all weekend, Ricciardo slithering to 16th in qualifying while teammate Yuki Tsunoda started last.
The nature of Sunday’s 50-lap race – which was interrupted three times for safety car and virtual safety car periods – made matters worse for the 34-year-old, who constantly struggled to get his tyres up to a working temperature where he could push in the early green-flag laps when racing resumed.
“That was a really difficult one,” Ricciardo said after AlphaTauri failed to score points for the first time in four races.
“We knew where we’d been suffering this weekend, it’s really just tyre warm-up and getting it working … I knew the start would be difficult but I thought we’d be able to get into a rhythm and show a little bit more pace, but that wasn’t the case.
“With all the restarts, we suffered so much more than the others with warm-up. I was getting overtaken on the outside of Turn 3 and the outside (of the track) is really slippery, so for them to have more grip on the outside, I was like ‘oh man …’ – it was pretty humiliating.”
Fortunately for Ricciardo and AlphaTauri, who lost Tsunoda to a power unit problem with three laps left, the non-score didn’t damage their chances of overtaking Williams for seventh place in the constructors’ championship, with Alex Albon (12th) and Logan Sargeant (16th) missing top-10 finishes despite qualifying sixth and seventh respectively.
Williams leads AlphaTauri by seven points with the final race in Abu Dhabi coming up next weekend, and Ricciardo feels the team needs to get to the bottom of its Vegas struggles quickly despite the Yas Marina Circuit being a very different – and much warmer – challenge.
“We honestly couldn’t do anything with what we had (today), but on the other hand we need to find out the reasons for that because that’s what held us back all weekend,” he said.
“A bit of a painful weekend and I do think it’s surface-specific, but we can’t neglect it. We need to move on for Abu Dhabi, but we need to do some post-race research and analysis. Abu Dhabi should reset itself, so I’m more optimistic about next weekend.”
Daniel's Las Vegas Grand Prix by the numbers
- Qualified: 15th (started 14th after Stroll/Aston Martin penalty)
- Race: 14th
- Fastest lap: 1min 37.108secs (12th), lap 50
- Points this event: 0
- Points this season: 6 (17th in world championship)