Ricciardo denied Australian GP podium finish

26 March, 2018, 02:43 | Author: Malcolm Quinn
  • Daniel Ricciardo

The Red Bull driver was again denied a long-awaited podium at Albert Park on Sunday, finishing fourth behind Ferrari's victor Sebastian Vettel, runner-up Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.

While Hamilton has insisted his final-lap improvement was not down to a switch to a faster engine mode, Ricciardo said the way Mercedes was able to turn up the power for qualifying was disheartening.

Hamilton was on provisional pole after the opening runs in Q3 in Melbourne, but his time looked within reach for rivals, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen both sat less than a tenth off.

"We are happy to score some points considering the circumstances, as soon as we had clean air the pace was good", Verstappen said.

It was the flawless start to a season in which Hamilton will vie for his fifth world title, to equal Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio.

Hamilton will be well aware, however, that the Australian Grand Prix - more so than most races - is not won on a Saturday.

Vettel didn't seem too amused by Hamilton's "joke".

"At the end of the day the reason we are here is to have fun".

Ricciardo will start his home race from eighth on the grid once his three-place penalty for speeding under red flags in Friday practice is added to his fifth-place qualifying position. Teammate Valtteri Bottas brought the session to a temporary halt when he crashed two minutes into the final session.

Vettel and Hamilton
GETTY Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton resume their rivalry on the track tomorrow

Bottas qualified provisionally in 10th spot with Ricciardo's penalty still to be applied.

However, nothing was going to discourage an ecstatic Hamilton. "I'm always striving for perfection and that was as close as I could get today".

He said, "That sucks, It's frustrating because I think everyone else wants to see them [Mercedes] get challenged a bit more, so that was a little bit of a punch in the stomach to everyone".

It means the pair will start Sunday's race on the red-banded compound, an aspect Ricciardo hopes will prove fruitful in assisting his recovery towards the front.

"I know that obviously they're loving it, they're in a good position, but everyone else is hating it".

Vettel responded: "Hopefully we can play two against one".

Second fastest was a Ferrari - but it was not the auto of Sebastian Vettel.

A spin for the Dutchman encapsulated Red Bull's tough start but it when Haas' race later capitulated with both cars leaving the pits with loose wheels, the resulting Virtual Safety Car turned Ricciardo's race on its head.


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