Australian Grand Prix – Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo has been given a three place grid penalty for the opening round of the season.
Ricciardo, who takes part in his home Grand Prix in Australia this weekend, has been given a grid penalty for failing to stay above the minimum time set by the FIA’s ECU under the red flag conditions during FP2.
The red flag was shown due to timing wires working their way loose on the main straight. Ricciardo was on track at the time, setting a lap on UltraSoft tyres when the flags came out. While he slowed and returned to the pits, he was adjudged to have come back too fast. In the document released by the stewards, outlined below, they explained that a harsher penalty was not applied as there was evidence that Ricciardo had obeyed the spirit of the rules:
“The Stewards examined telemetry, video, car positioning data evidence and heard from Daniel Ricciardo, the driver of car 3 and the team representative. 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 also found that Ricciardo slowed by as much as 175kmph 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, Article. 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.”
Ricciardo has suffered bad luck at his home race in the past, including a non start last year due to mechanical trouble. Red Bull have looked competitive so far this weekend, with Ricciardo finishing P7 in FP2, 0.7 off the front, despite not being able to finish what should have been his fastest lap due to the red flag.