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Formula 1 Hungarian GP

Hungary masked AlphaTauri F1 car weakness that could yet hurt Ricciardo

AlphaTauri thinks its persisting corner entry weakness was masked at last week's Hungarian Grand Prix, denying a clearer answer on how Daniel Ricciardo will fare in its Formula 1 car.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Ricciardo joined his old team on loan from Red Bull from Budapest onwards to replace the ousted Nyck de Vries.

One area de Vries struggled with in the AT04 was its corner entry weakness, an issue that also hurt Ricciardo during his troubled time at McLaren.

Ricciardo said he quickly felt at home in the car following his eight-month sabbatical, as he out-qualified team-mate Yuki Tsunoda and finished 13th despite being punted off by Zhou Guanyu at the start.

But according to AlphaTauri's head of trackside engineering Jonathan Eddolls, the characteristics of the twisty Hungaroring combined with the elevated temperatures have masked some of the car's ill-handling traits, with the jury still out on how Ricciardo will get along with his new car.

When asked by Autosport before the race if AlphaTauri's corner entry weakness was still prevalent, Eddolls replied:

"Actually, that hasn't been one of the biggest limitations so far of the weekend, because the tyre grip and the downforce sort of masked it. It hasn't been such an issue here.

"Interestingly, here we're coming to maximum downforce, very soft tyres. Also, here you can run them at very low pressures, some of the lowest of the season because of the circuit characteristics."

But according to Eddolls, fixing its corner entry weakness is still a work in progress despite some of the team's recent upgrades, which include a tweaked floor and new front and rear wings.

"The updates are aimed at addressing that," said Eddolls. "I wouldn't say we fixed it, for sure, even though [the drivers] haven't been commenting and I think we understand why, so it continues to be the path that we want to take."

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

He added that 34-year-old Ricciardo hadn't reported any significant weakness or shortcoming of how his car behaves, but just confirmed the team's need to add more aerodynamic load to the car in order to gain a foothold in the midfield.

"The positive is the feedback we've had from Daniel so far does confirm our sort of general direction, we need more downforce.

"He said, like we all know, we were just lacking a little bit of downforce, relative to the top teams.

"But so far, he's not said specific big areas of weakness, as we understand that the car doesn't have any big problems, it's just we need a bit more load to be competitive."

Ricciardo's early second pitstop not only allowed him to undercut several drivers and salvage 13th after being stuck in traffic, but he explained the brief spell in clear air also give him much more information about what the car is capable of.

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"Yeah, that was really important," Ricciardo said. "I think it would have been a much more probably discouraging race and maybe still a lot of questions to be answered.

"Just having the pace, having the clear air and making a few mistakes, learning from those, knowing what the car likes, what it doesn't. I think I learned a lot from the race."

Additional reporting by Matt Kew

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