AlphaTauri has detailed how a breakthrough in its car setup has enabled Daniel Ricciardo to exploit the untapped potential in the AT04.
Ricciardo rejoined the team on-loan from Red Bull mid-way through the season as replacement for the ousted Nyck de Vries, starting with the Hungarian Grand Prix followed by the Sprint Belgian weekend.
In practice for the Dutch GP, Ricciardo crashed breaking his metacarpal as his comeback was halted, only returning for the United States GP - another Sprint weekend.
He followed team-mate Yuki Tsunoda's set-up in Austin, before the 'normal' Mexico City Grand Prix allowed the team to experiment with a machine that had been one of the slowest on the grid before incremental updates have pushed it towards a points troubler.
Ricciardo was branded one of the most consistent drivers throughout the event in Mexico, as the performance of other teams fluctuated.
With the team utilising a "trick" cooling technique involving smaller louvre outlets to minimise drag, Ricciardo ended each session with a top ten time.
During the race he produced his best result since his comeback, taking home seventh and crucially moving the team closer to ninth in the Constructors' Championship having battled with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in the Mercedes at various points in the race.
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Eddolls: No big fundamental weakness in the car
Head of Trackside Engineering, Jonathan Eddolls, says one of the main impacts Ricciardo made was changing the stability at the front end through high speed corners.
"One of his big limitations has been the front end coming back," Eddolls explained to media, including RacingNews365.
"The directions have been to improve the front end of the car for him, accepting the stability compromise.
"But that then impacts the tyre temperatures through the corner and throughout the lap."
This gave him greater confidence, something he lacked through the years at McLaren which eventually led to his performance deficit to Lando Norris.
"I think on the characteristics of the car, maybe we haven't quite got the load or efficiency of some of the top teams," added Eddolls.
"But there is no big fundamental weaknesses of the car, other than lacking a bit of [aerodynamic] load.
"The fact that it does the same thing every lap, corner to corner, it's given him the confidence to be able to throw the car into the corners and know that it's going to stick and do the same thing every time."
Ricciardo versus Tsunoda
Compared to team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, Eddolls notes that Ricciardo's driving style is different in specific areas.
"That the way he attacks the corners, hits the brakes, the driving style is different," said Eddolls.
"Not only from the mechanical or aero platform, but we know the Pirelli tyres are quite sensitive. The way he drives, we can see different tyre temperatures and different tyre temperature balances.
"We're not talking big numbers, but we can see differences in the way he drives and makes the lap time in different parts of the corner."