Daniel Ricciardo wants to move on from a “frustrating” and disrupted home event at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix where he crashed in qualifying and then could not compete due to reliability problems before and during the race.
The 27-year-old was set to start 15th after Red Bull changed his gearbox following his Q3 crash, but a gearbox sensor issue prevented him from taking the start and when he did get going, two laps down, a sudden fuel pressure problem ended his race after 25 laps.
Ricciardo had completed a demanding schedule in the run up to the race – including a mammoth 14-hour stint of media sessions and sponsor events on the Wednesday before the Grand Prix.
“It’s been a long week,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun, but I feel bad for everyone, bad for the fans obviously – I believe there’s more people here supporting me than the others.
“It just kinda snowballed from [Saturday]. The five-place grid penalty sounded bad enough but we had other issues. We were laps down, but getting some information – it was valuable track time.”
After the race Ricciardo paid tribute to his fans and explained that their support – even after all his difficulties over the weekend in Melbourne – would help him bounce back.
He said: “Not the weekend I wanted at home. For all these things to happen at my home race that’s probably the most frustrating thing. I feel for the fans. I’m sure they would have loved seeing me in action, but I feel super grateful for everyone that came this weekend and supported me.
“Even when I stopped they were still cheering and shouting my name. That goes a long way and it makes me stand here now feeling a lot better than if I didn’t have that so I definitely appreciate their support.”
Although he was unlucky with the reliability problems on his RB13 during the race at Albert Park, Ricciardo could not explain his qualifying crash, which happened when he lost the rear of his car going through the right-hand Turn 14 on his first run in Q3.
He said: “It was a little bit weird, when I turned in I felt the rear was a little bit light, but it kind of snapped a little bit later. I didn’t get the impression that it was going to go, and then it was like ‘oh yeah it’s going’. I tried to catch it, but it was too late.
“I had a quick look at my replay and at the data and I was pushing but I didn’t actually enter the corner any quicker than I did on my Q2 lap. I wasn’t overdriving to an extent where I feel it influenced it more than I should have.
“Nothing really stood out, I didn’t have a problem basically. There was no puncture, anything strange like that, I just lost the rear. Because we’ve got a bit more downforce on the car, because they’re more loaded, when they go, they seem a bit harder to bring back.”
Ricciardo is not the first F1 driver to endure bad luck and challenging weekends at a home race. His compatriot, Mark Webber, never finished higher than fourth at Albert Park, and Jenson Button’s best result at the British Grand Prix was also fourth.
But a philosophical Ricciardo, who lost a second place finish at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix when he was disqualified because of a fuel flow rate transgression on his car, described how he planned to use the disappointment of last weekend as extra motivation for the next race in China.
He said: “Sure I’m disappointed now but it is what it is. I’ve been here before so I’ll wake up tomorrow and be motivated to get ready for China.”
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