Daniel Ricciardo’s run of poor luck at his home race continues as the Red Bull driver has been hit by a three-place grid penalty at the Australian Grand Prix.
FP2 was stopped just after the halfway mark due to loose wiring on the start line that needed to be removed, with the red flag coming out while Ricciardo was on his low-fuel ultrasoft tire lap. The Australian aborted his lap and returned to the pits slowly, but he was still quicker than the minimum time set by the FIA ECU under red flags.
After a visit to the stewards – during which he explained he had misread the time being displayed on his dash – Ricciardo was hit by a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.
“The stewards reviewed the data and video and found that Ricciardo did in fact fail to stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU in the penultimate and final mini marshalling sectors,” the stewards’ decision read. “The stewards also found that Ricciardo slowed by as much as 175kph from his fast times at Turn 12 and was consistently and significantly slower in the final three turns, indicating that he was fully complying with the requirements of Appendix H of the International Sporting Code. However, he admitted an error in reading his dash and was slightly below the minimum time.
“As the regulation states, Art. 31.6 was added this year to ensure that drivers reduce speed sufficiently during a red flag. Breach of this regulation is seen to be an extremely serious matter. However, in this case, the stewards thoroughly reviewed the breach and found that the driver slowed significantly, such that no danger was created, and that the driver proceeded with due care.
“The stewards therefore are imposing a lesser penalty than usual, and impose a three-grid place penalty and two penalty points.”
The penalty is the latest in a number of incidents for Ricciardo at his home race, with the Australian being excluded after finishing second on his Red Bull debut in 2014 due to fuel flow irregularities. Last year, he crashed during qualifying and then failed to make the start before retiring early in the race.
The stewards also investigated an incident between Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas during FP2, but having heard from both drivers opted to take no further action as the pair agreed Raikkonen’s positioning had not been a case of “unnecessary impeding.”