Ricciardo misses start, exits early at F1 Australian GP

Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia, left, waves as he walks down pit lane after crashing out of the qualifying session for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, Saturday, March 25, 2017. (Brandon Malone/Pool via AP)

Daniel Ricciardo was slapped with a grid penalty, missed the start because of a mechanical problem and retired halfway through the Australian Grand Prix as his season-opening Formula One race unfolded in the worst possible way on Sunday

MELBOURNE, Australia — Daniel Ricciardo was slapped with a grid penalty, missed the start because of a mechanical problem and retired halfway through the Australian Grand Prix as his season-opening Formula One race unfolded in the worst possible way on Sunday.

The Red Bull driver had the best of the non-Mercedes cars in F1 last year, placing third to eventual winner Nico Rosberg and three-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

After weeks of good-natured promotional activities for his home Grand Prix, though, his first race of 2017 started badly and only got worse.

"Sorry mate. Car is done," Ricciardo said as his car finally came to a halt on the 28th lap, smoke billowing from the front left. "Let's get ... out of here."

He'd been given a grid penalty of five places — pushing him back from 10th to 15th — after being forced to make an unscheduled gearbox change on his Red Bull following a crash late in qualifying on Saturday.

It deteriorated further when he had mechanical failure on the warmup and his car was transported back to the garages.

That's where he was when the race got under way — after one aborted start and an extra formation lap for the other 19 cars.

Ricciardo eventually started the race from pit lane, joining with instructions from Red Bull to have fun and "get stuck in" after the leaders had already completed the first of 57 scheduled laps on the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile) Albert Park circuit.

Two other cars retired before Ricciardo stopped again, this time at turn three on the 28th lap, with a fuel pressure problem. In all, seven of the 20 cars retired in the first race under the new F1 rules designed to make the cars bigger and faster.

"Not the weekend I wanted at home. For all these things to happen at my home race — that's probably the most frustrating thing," Ricciardo said. "We were on the back foot already after the crash in qualifying and then today we had an issue during the warm up lap followed by a second issue in the race. On both occasions the car just came to a stop so I couldn't do anything else.

"But look, it's the first race, so hopefully we'll move forward from this. I'll wake up tomorrow and be motivated to get ready for China."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner commended the crew for getting Ricciardo into the race after the problem with a sensor on the gearbox in the formation lap.

"It was an unbelievable recovery from the mechanics to get him into the race, nobody gave up in working to get the car out there," Horner said. "Then we were always going to be relying on safety cars to get back on to the lead lap. We decided to put the mileage in and get the knowledge anyway."

Related News

Chinese sportswear brand makes inroads in tennis...

Jan 20, 2017

Svetlana Kuznetsova has a different look than most tennis players

Venus focused on tennis, not age, in record 73rd...

Jan 20, 2017

One could never accuse Venus Williams of being sensitive about her age

Nadal holds off Zverev to reach 4th round at...

Jan 21, 2017

Rafael Nadal had a good, hard look at the future before pulling a few tricks from his past to hold...

Bryan brothers announce retirement from Davis Cup...

Jan 22, 2017

Bob and Mike Bryan are retiring from playing Davis Cup for the United States after 14 years with...

Tough at the top: Murray, Kerber make 4th-round...

Jan 22, 2017

It was tough at the top for Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber at the Australian Open, with both the...

Matthew Dellavedova, tennis player? Nope, it's...

Jan 22, 2017

Basketball fans may have done a double take upon seeing the Australian Open schedule on Sunday:...

NHL Livescore