Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo had an unavoidable scrap with a debris which compromised his 2018 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix and the shredded carbon piece from his car hit Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly then.
The Australian started from the back along with his teammate Max Verstappen at Sochi. While the Dutchman made it up through to Top 5 in the opening six laps, Ricciardo had it slow as it took him 12 laps to reach sixth.
His race was already compromised at the start when he ran over a debris while overtaking few cars which damaged his front wing – the part which flew into the car of Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, but fortunately he was unhurt.
The Frenchman revealed the scary moment when a debris hit his visor on the right side as it sneaked passed under the Halo into his cockpit. Gasly hailed the visor which was strong enough to sustain the hit, but it surely will give voice to anti-Halo camp.
For Ricciardo though, he had to run with the damage losing front downforce as a result, thereby making his run through the field a touch slower – one reason why he finished a mammoth 49.435s behind Verstappen in sixth.
“I knew I had hit something,” he started. “The first lap was a bit of a mess and I remembered just before Turn 13, I had a slipstream and I think it was a McLaren, as soon as I pulled out, I saw debris in front of me but I didn’t have enough time to react.
“So, I hit that and immediately I started to feel a lot of understeer [especially] in the first stint. There was quite a bit damage to the front wing. It obviously cost us some pace but I don’t think in the end, it really changed the actual finishing position.
“I am sure it would have put me closer to Max and I guess to the leaders but I don’t think we would have broken the Top 4, so a bit lonely at the end but it is what it is,” he added. Verstappen, on the other hand, had a much better race to be fifth.
The Dutchman even led the maximum of 24 laps as opposed to the front-runners Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. “To come from the back to finish fifth was a very good result today,” he said.
“I had a good start, a good first lap and from then onwards we could go through the traffic more easily than expected and also manage the tyres very well. It was a bit tricky at the start because Pierre stalled in front of me and I had to go around him.
“Then going into Turn 2 we were careful not to have any contact and after the first eight laps we were fifth and still in the pit stop window of Ferrari and Mercedes. After they pitted they couldn’t get past me.
“Unexpectedly, I was in the lead of the race and could keep them behind which shows that we really had very good pace, even on old tyres. Then once we stopped, we just had to bring it home.
“The tyre strategy was right because the Soft tyres were the only option we had in order to go as long as possible into the race,” he added, stating that he purposely didn’t push in the latter stages as he knew fifth was the maximum they could have achieved.
On the other hand, both Toro Rosso of Gasly and Brendon Hartley were forced to retire early from the race due to a brake issue which team principal Franz Tost was surprised with since it took place despite them doing nothing with the car.
“It was a frustrating Sunday for Toro Rosso as both cars had to retire,” he said. “For whatever reason we ended up with very hot front brakes and one piston in the calipers got stuck. This caused the overheating of the brake fluid and a long pedal.
“Therefore, we called the drivers to come to the garage. Obviously, being in Parc Fermé conditions, we didn’t change anything from yesterday, so we need to investigate further what the reason is.
“The positive side of this weekend is Honda’s new upgraded engine which is a big improvement. Now we are focussing on preparing everything for Suzuka where we hopefully will have a much better race.”
About the Author
Darshan Chokhani is a FIA Accredited journalist covering both Indian and International championships, including Formula 1, MotoGP, Formula E, World Endurance Championship and more. Although specialising in motor racing, but follows Cricket, Tennis, WWE and events involving Indian athletes.