Daniel Ricciardo’s progress in the French Grand Prix was ended by front wing damage that cost the Red Bull driver a podium.
Having started from fifth, Ricciardo avoided the first-lap incident between Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas and climbed up to third by passing Carlos Sainz on Lap 9. From there, the Australian started to close in on his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, but after making his solitary pit stop he started to struggle for pace and ended up dropping behind Kimi Raikkonen in the latter stages.
“Disappointed,” Ricciardo said of finishing fourth. “We had pretty good pace towards the end of that first stint. It seemed that we were catching Max and pulling away from Kimi. When I pitted, the boys said the front left part of the wing was damaged.
“They think it happened about two laps before the pit stop because I started to all of a sudden get quite a lot of understeer. I don’t know if it was a failure or we hit some debris. So then already with the soft tire we were struggling when we left the pits.
“And then a few laps later the team said the right part broke. So both parts identically seemed to break. Whether there was a failure or debris I don’t know yet. But it happened and we were slow. Obviously because of that we had a lot less downforce and were understeering. So Kimi was always going to catch us with that pace, but the blue flags — that was really bad. But we were a wounded car from just before the first pit stop.”
Explaining where the damage was, team principal Christian Horner believes debris was to blame rather than the front wing failing.
“It was a shame for Daniel whose car was stricken around the mid-point in the race when the top two elements of his front flap became disbanded, possibly through hitting some debris,” Horner said. “A very frustrating race for him as he also looked good for a podium place.
“In the end, an entertaining grand prix and we are happy to come away from our first run at Paul Ricard with a good haul of points for the team and a podium. Max had a good strong drive to complete a very good weekend finishing in second place and achieving back-to-back podiums following on from a third place in Canada.”