Daniel Ricciardo has been on the improve in recent races but the Aussie has paid dearly for a single decision that ruined his qualifying.
Daniel Ricciardo will start the Brazilian Grand Prix in 11th after his qualifying sprint was ruined by a single decision on the first lap.
Having qualified one place behind teammate Lando Norris in ninth, Ricciardo started in eighth after Mercedes champion Lewis Hamilton was disqualified qualifying, meaning he started the sprint race in 20th position.
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The FIA had found a technical infringement with Hamilton’s rear wing, which ruled that he had exceeded the maximum gap on the rear wing while using DRS.
But it didn’t stop Hamilton from charging through the field in the 24 lap sprint race, finishing fifth overall, but will drop back to 10th after taking a five-place grid penalty for taking a new engine.
Hamilton’s penalty won’t affect Ricciardo after a split-second call ruined his day.
Ricciardo, who took second at the previous sprint race at Monza before charging to the eighth race win of his career, had his day spoiled from the start.
The Aussie lost two positions right at the start before a charging Hamilton made short work of Ricciardo’s McLaren.
It means Ricciardo finished the race outside the top 10 and will have a lot of work to do in the race.
“Ricciardo, one of the losers in that race,” David Croft said on Sky Sports. “He started in eighth and he finished down in 11th.”
The Aussie said a single split-second call left him languishing in the middle of the pack.
“Unfortunately the race was shaped by lap one,” Ricciardo said after qualifying. “I lost two positions on the first lap.
“The initial get away at the start was decent but I just chose the inside at turn one and from memory it was the lane that got bottled up a little bit more and drivers who chose the outside just had a clearer run into braking and could go later and deeper so just a sitting duck.
“Obviously not happy with my decision to go on the inside but it’s one of those ones where sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but obviously it’s something I’d like to be better at and obviously it cost me a couple of spots today. Then we were just stuck in a DRS train — I think I was quicker that the couple cars ahead but couldn’t really do much.
“Disappointed but I’ll make up for it tomorrow — that’s the plan. A few more cars ahead of me so not ideal, not the best day but we’ll look to tomorrow and see what I can learn from today to be better.”
Ricciardo added that there should be some more chances in the Grand Prix and said he didn’t plan on replicating the horror start.
To his advantage, Ricciardo will be on the other side of the grid, opening a door on the outside.
And he was positive about his chances to make the most of the start.
“I’ll be the guy who has an amazing first lap tomorrow and then we’ll set ourselves up well,” Ricciardo said. “That’s all I’m thinking now. The first 60 seconds of lap one will prepare my race.
“It sucks losing out so I expect more from myself so decision making I’ll get right tomorrow.”
Ricciardo’s teammate Lando Norris will start up in fifth on the grid but will have their work cut out in the constructors race with Ferrari.
The Prancing Horses are in third in the constructors standings, 14.5 points ahead of McLaren, but have Carlos Sainz in third and Charles Leclerc starting sixth.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas will start in pole with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in second.
Verstappen has a 21 point lead over Hamilton in the driver’s championship but Mercedes have a two-point lead on the constructors ladder.
Brazilian Grand Prix starting grid
Row 1: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
Row 2: Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) – Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
Row 3: Lando Norris (McLaren) – Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
Row 4: Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) – Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
Row 5: Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)*
Row 6: Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) – Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
Row 7: Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) – Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
Row 8: Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) – Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
Row 9: George Russell (Williams) – Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
Row 10: Mick Schumacher (Haas) – Nikita Mazepin (Haas)
* Five place engine penalty