Daniel Riccard0 didn’t have bad luck this weekend; the Australian didn’t have any luck at all. Failing to finish his home grand prix was just the tip of the iceberg for the Red Bull Racing driver.
Red Bull hadn’t looked as quick as Ferrari and Mercedes in testing, so coming into the weekend the team had work to do. Regardless, the ever-upbeat Ricciardo was optimistic for a solid first race of the season. He and the rest of the Red Bull supporters were hoping for a podium finish. The optimism, sadly, was to no avail.
Ricciardo pushed too hard during Q3 of qualifying. This saw his RB13 end up in the wall, the Perth-born driver quick on the radio to apologise to his team, his hopes of a front row start were quashed.
As Lewis Hamilton claimed pole, Ricciardo’s 10th place start was looking less and less unlikely. A gearbox change was most certainly required, which would shunt the Australian down to 15th on the grid. Not ideal for anyone.
Nonetheless, Ricciardo remained smiling in post-qualifying interviews and was looking forward to race day. Millions of eyes would be on him, not to mention a hundred thousand Australians cheering his name from the grandstands. Fears of a gearbox replacement rang true and Ricciardo was demoted to 15th on the grid.
As if his weekend couldn’t become any more dismal, his car became jammed in sixth gear on the way to the grid. Frustration was beginning to show.mThe Red Bull team worked furiously to repair the malfunctioning electronic sensor which was related to his gearbox.
Mercifully, they managed to get the stricken RB13 going again. The rest of the field had already completed a couple of laps before Ricciardo joined them. If anything, the team could treat this as a testing opportunity, as well as pray for a safety car or two.
With the Australian running around a lap or so behind all other drivers, the biggest blow of the weekend came. A power unit failure ended his short race once and for all.
“Let’s get out of here,” a devastated Ricciardo said over team radio. But instead of his torrid run getting the better of him, he was philosophical in his response to a disastrous day as he spoke to News.au.
“On the plus side I’m getting out of here. It’s been a long week. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun, but I feel bad for everyone, bad for the fans. I believe there are more people here supporting me than the others and I’m sure they would have loved me to get out and race.
But it just snowballed from yesterday and the five-grid penalty sounded bad enough and then obviously we had other issues. Just a long day and happy to move on. It’s OK, obviously I’m disappointed today, but I’ll wake up tomorrow and be fine and ready to prepare to go to China.
I certainly feel for the fans as much as I feel sorry for myself, I feel for them. They cheered when I stopped on the warm-up lap, when I stopped in the race, they still cheered and I still heard them showing a lot of support. That goes a long way, it makes me stand here right now feeling a lot better about myself than if I didn’t have that.
It’s been a long week, but they have been here from the start. I definitely appreciate them and I wish it would have gone better this weekend for them as well.”
– Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo will look to the Chinese Grand Prix for retribution after a terrible time on home soil. He is already ten points adrift of Max Verstappen, the inter-team battle could be the only thing that engages the Red Bull drivers for the next few races given the apparent advantage that Ferrari and Mercedes hold over the team.