Daniel Ricciardo insists that he isn't too worried about AlphaTauri missing out on seventh place in the constructors' championship, and that the way they finished the season was a confidence boost for 2024.
As recently as the United States GP, the team was bottom of the standings. But seventh place for Ricciardo in Mexico vaulted them ahead of Haas and Alfa Romeo with three races remaining.
More points from Tsunoda in Brazil put them within touching distance of Williams in seventh place, and AlphaTauri came int the season finale in Abu Dhabi needing to score eight points more than Williams to snatch the position.
In the end they couldn't quite manage to pull it off. Despite neither Williams' driver scoring points, Tsunoda finishing in eighth wasn't enough, while Ricciardo just missed out in P11 behind Aston Martin's Lance Stroll.
“Of course seventh would have been nice,' Ricciardo admitted. "But a few races ago we were talking about not finishing tenth, so seventh would have been a bonus.
The team struggled to find any sort of form in the first half of the season, and scored a total of just three points over the course of the first 14 races.
Rookie driver Nyck de Vries we dropped after Silverstone with Ricciardo replacing him in Hungary only to injure his hand in practice at Zandvoort which sidelined him for the next four races with Liam Lawson standing in for him.
But the team had been hard at work with upgrades to the AT04, and with Ricciardo back in the car alongside Tsunoda they amassed a combined total of 20 points over the final five races of the season
“Obviously I wasn’t on board for the first part of the season, but the way the team turned it around, with the updates, and I'd like to think Yuki and myself pushed each other a little bit. That’s positive for the team.
“There’s a lot the team can be excited about moving into next year," Ricciardo said, adding that it "gives us a little bit more to fight for.”
Ricciardo's race on Sunday was compromised by an enforced early stop when a tear-off got stuck in his brake duct. But the driver admitted that whether or not this would have made any difference to getting into the points was unclear.
“I need to see how much it affected us because for a two-stop we would have probably pitted a little later,” he noted. “I don’t know if it put us in a little bit of traffic or not, but it was not bad.
"We still recovered well and had a decent race," he pointed out. “Obviously, there are always ifs, whats, and maybes. One more lap and we would have had Stroll.
"Certainly we would have had his DRS and had a chance at him, so [we were] one lap away from a potential point, which is not too bad from where we started.”
A point would have been a nice parting gift to AlphaTauri's team principal Franz Tost who is stepping down after 18 years in charge at Faenza.
he's been responsible for giving a number of bright young talent into F1 and giving them their opportunity and chance to develop., and was a key early influence on Ricciardo when he drove for the team as Toro Rosso.
“Shoutout to Franz,” Ricciardo acknowledged on Sunday. “He’s been a big part of the team and obviously, very early in my career, he played a big role.
“It was nice to be able to spend his last races together. I wish him well, and I know he’ll be missed by the whole team," he said. "Everyone is celebrating him, and all he wanted to do was go racing. "It shows the person he is."
Ricciardo will remain at the team alongside in Tsunoda in 2024, but it's not yet known what name they will be racing under as the squad undergoes another rebranding over the winter.