Daniel Ricciardo takes some responsibility for being caught in a crash at the start of the Russian Grand Prix, which he said was due to his starting from 10th on the grid at Sochi.
Romain Grosjean and Ricciardo went either side of Antonio Giovinazzi into Turn 4 and contact between all three resulted in Grosjean hitting the barrier and Ricciardo picking up a puncture. The damage to the Renault forced Ricciardo to retire from the race shortly before the halfway point, and while he feels blameless for the incident itself, the Australian said starting from the fifth row increases the risk of getting caught in trouble.
“I guess that’s the midfield,” Ricciardo said. “I was on the inside of Turn 4, Grosjean was on the outside. I expected him to probably defend a little but he left it wide open, so it was quite safe for me to go on the inside, but then I saw the Alfa Romeo come through as well and when it was three cars I was like, ‘nope’. I imagined Grosjean wasn’t going to get the better end of that.
“I didn’t expect to get hit from the inside, but obviously I did and we had floor damage and the puncture. We tried to continue but I just had too much damage to have any pace, so the race was pretty much over from the start.
“It’s a shame. I’ll just try and look at it from the perspective that if I qualify further up the grid then I’m less in the bad stuff. So I’ll take some responsibility, but obviously in the accident itself I was just a passenger.”
Ricciardo’s retirement followed a Singapore Grand Prix where he was excluded from qualifying and then had his recovery charge through the field hampered by contact with Giovinazzi, but team principal Cyril Abiteboul said the team also needs to help ensure the drivers are starting as high up as possible.
“Since the summer break, we’ve been strong in qualifying with both cars in the top ten,” Abiteboul said. “But, in three races out of four, things haven’t gone our way, and that was the case again. The lap one collision forced Daniel to retire with damage, while Nico’s race was compromised by a slow first-stop and an unfortunate VSC where he lost places with cars ahead able to pit under it.
“Once again, it’s easy to blame various circumstances, but it would be too easy to rely on that. We simply need to do a better job and offer our drivers even better starting positions and straightforward races. The car has the pace, we need to focus ourselves on achieving that.”