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Mat Coch writes:
The smile might never seem to leave his face, but inside the frustration appears to be mounting for Daniel Ricciardo.
After a promising start which netted him two points at his home Grand Prix, Ricciardo's season has never really got going. Toro Rosso has gradually fallen off the pace while there is mounting speculation that Technical Director Giorgio Ascanelli is set to depart the team sooner rather than later.
Ascanelli was absent in Germany, officially on leave, and is not present this weekend in Hungary.
Meanwhile the team continues to struggle and frustrations grow.
"To be honest I haven't really got involved in it and haven't really asked many questions," said Ricciardo. "Obviously we would like some structure and we need somebody big in the place, a technical director, but I'm not sure if there will be a change or who it would be if there is one.
"Whether it's something that will get resolved over the break… Maybe it came at a good time and (with) some time off everyone can rethink about what's happening."
Ricciardo also revealed that the team seems to have taken comparatively little interest in the driver's feedback in its development plan for the 2013 car. "I don't know where development is at," he confessed. "After each race weekend we have quite a lengthy discussion with the team and I'll be on the phone to my engineer during the week after the race, so I guess all these comments and feedback is being put in to next year's car."
Perhaps it's because Ricciardo and teammate Jean-Eric Vergne are inexperienced but it seems a bizarre situation that a team which is clearly struggling and apparently without technical leadership hasn't engaged its drivers further.
"They've got their own numbers and things to look at," he continued. "There's been a few comments this year, me and Jean-Eric have made which we feel maybe could be put forward for next year, but it's just a feeling we have."
Similarly Ricciardo dodged questions about future updates to the car, an understandable question given the team's precarious position towards the bottom of the Constructors' Championship. "Maybe some things could help but I'm obviously not blaming anyone, this is the situation it is and we have to do what we can with it," he said.
"This morning, to be honest, the car didn't feel that bad when we went out for the first run. The level of grip felt quite high but then looking at the lap times we were two seconds, two-and-a-half seconds slower.
"We're hoping maybe something we'll find will unlock a bit of potential but at the moment what we've been changing has just been doing a small difference. We're hanging on, but it's getting a little bit further away so we're hoping to not let it get any further."
Despite his carefully worded responses the frustration behind the eyes of the 'smiling bull' is clear. While he hopes to remain with the team for 2013, he always saw it as a two-year programme despite only a single year contract, Ricciardo is hoping for an upturn in the team's performance well before then.
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