RACE DEBRIEF

    Daniel Ricciardo was disappointed not to contribute points to AlphaTauri’s fight for P7 in the championship after finishing 11th in Abu Dhabi, although he has already set his sights on hitting the ground running in 2024.

    Ricciardo was knocked out in Q2 in Saturday’s qualifying and lined up 15th for the race, and while he did maintain that position in the early laps he was forced to pit after a tear off was caught in his front brake ducts.

    READ MORE: No regrets for Tsunoda as AlphaTauri narrowly miss out on P7 in the championship to Williams

    He pitted on Lap 7, and put on a set of hards, which put him on the backfoot for the closing lap as the drivers on fresher tyres, such as Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll, overtook him, before he later crossed the line in 11th.

    The Australian’s result, and Yuki Tsunoda’s P8, means that AlphaTauri scored just four points in Abu Dhabi. This saw them fall three points short of overhauling Williams in the battle for seventh in the championship.

    “It wasn’t a bad race in terms of pace, it’s just hard as soon as you get some dirty air,” explained Ricciardo. “I felt like if I was in my own race, I had decent pace but then obviously it’s a race, so you don’t always have the track to yourself.

    ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 26: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3)
    Ricciardo says he suffered in the dirty air of the drivers ahead as he finished 11th

    “When we had the track to ourselves, I felt like we were doing okay. I felt like Mexico, Brazil Sprint, and today, one more lap we could have got a few more points. Obviously, it was close but no cigar.

    “Obviously yesterday put us in the backfoot starting so far back, so we had a look over it last night. I think we understood a few things but there is still a bit more that I think we need to dig into.

    MONDAY MORNING DEBRIEF: How Mercedes’ P2 in the constructors’ was secured by 1.1s on the last lap of 2023

    “We are testing here in a few days so maybe we can explore a few things in the car. It was close, obviously close with Williams, we didn’t quite get it. Yuki got a few points, but we needed a few more.

    “Would have been nice if I contributed but, starting 15th, it was unfortunately a tough one. But, anyway, part of me is happy to go on a break to kind of prepare for a full season, but I would also like to continue racing.

    Ricciardo on P11 in Abu Dhabi: ‘One more lap we could have got a few points’

    “But it’s exciting to have a proper off-season now and hundred percent know that I want to be here and want to do it. Feel good so happy to go into next year.”

    Reflecting on a year in which he debuted for the team in Hungary, broke his hand in Zandvoort, before returning in Austin, Ricciardo added: “Yeah, I think as experienced as I am you can’t underestimate a pre-season and kind of hitting the ground running, I guess.

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    “I was happy with the few races I did. The race pace, actually, I was probably more happy with. I think qualifying – some were good, some I wasn’t too happy with.

    "Still a bit to explore on one lap pace but once we settled into race rhythms, I was pretty happy with the feeling of the car and the understanding of it. Pierre [Hamelin], my engineer – well many drivers' engineer this year – I know it was a crazy season for him as well.

    “So, probably to have a more stable 2024 will also help us as a kind of team and group and help the dynamic moving forwards. I’m sure he will be a bit relieved to have a bit of a break this year.”