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Ricciardo: AlphaTauri F1 left struggling in “different league” in Las Vegas

Daniel Ricciardo admits that his AlphaTauri Formula 1 team was left struggling in a “different league” in Las Vegas and unable to compete with rivals.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Ricciardo qualified 15th and eventually finished 14th of the 17 cars still running at the chequered flag, having struggled for grip for much of the race.

With his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda retiring, the race was the first time in four events that the Faenza outfit failed to score, having previoulsy narrowed the gap to seventh-placed Williams to just seven points.

“I was coming into the race optimistic,” said Ricciardo when asked about his race by Motorsport.com. “There was still a bit of a reality that maybe it will be okay, maybe it won't. Unfortunately, maybe it wasn't.

“We knew [in] the race starts and restarts we would struggle, because we've definitely missed something here this weekend, getting the tyre working on the slippery asphalt when it's still cold, or a new tyre.

“But even with that, I felt, 'okay, after a couple laps, we'll get some temperature and then be able to kind of get back on to the pack'. But we never really got there. And I think the restarts didn't help us.

“But that's not an excuse. It's just something that we lacked this weekend, we really struggled at the start of stints.

“Once it settled, there were a few cars fading at the end of the race. So we had a little bit more pace than them. But we still weren't a top 10 car. So, unfortunate.”

Daniel Ricciardo, Scuderia AlphaTauri

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Daniel Ricciardo, Scuderia AlphaTauri

He added: “I know I haven't done a whole lot of races this year. But I feel like the following [other cars] is significantly harder than last year. So I'm not sure if that's fact, but it definitely feels that way. 

"So once we started getting closer, we damaged the tyres. And that's what made it quite difficult for us.”

Ricciardo acknowledged that the good news was that the teams AlphaTauri is battling in the constructors’ championship – Williams, Haas and Alfa Romeo – also failed to log points ahead of the Abu Dhabi finale.

“I'm going to go glass half full,” he said. “And our rivals didn't score, so it gives us a little glimmer of hope next week to still have a crack. 

"A bit of a long old race. And we were operating on a different level of grip compared to the others. So I was getting overtaken on the outside of Turn 3, which take my word for it, the outside of Turn 3 is really, really, really slippery.

“So the fact that they were getting me on the outside, I was like, man, we are definitely operating in a different league! So we’ve got some homework to do. 

"Next week, it's a different story. So we'll focus on that. But I think there's definitely some post-race analysis.”

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