By his own admission, Daniel Ricciardo’s confidence took a major hit after a “heartbreaking” performance at the Styrian Grand Prix.
The Australian started at 13th on the grid and finished in that same position in a race where luck didn’t go his way.
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Ricciardo got off to a flyer in the opening lap at the Red Bull Ring, overtaking Yuki Tsunoda, Charles Leclerc, Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz to jump up into P9.
For a moment it looked like he would be able to produce repeat of his solid sixth-placed finish at the French Grand Prix last weekend, but things quickly went south for Ricciardo in Austria.
Soon after his promising start, Ricciardo’s speed dropped and he was inexplicably passed by Yuki Tsunoda, Carlos Sainz, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
But his slide down the grid was apparently due to a technical fault with his McLaren.
“I’ve got low power, low power”, Ricciardo was heard telling McLaren team radio.
His team tried to fix the issue while he was still on the track, but the loss of power proved extremely costly.
“Tyre is good. I can do more.” 📻
Keep closing that gap, @DanielRicciardo. 💪#StyrianGP 🇦🇹 [Lap 27/71] pic.twitter.com/YMu3woC8tO
Ricciardo pitted on lap 43, which saw him slip to 15th on the grid.
Over the remaining laps, he was only able to overtake Estaban Ocon and Antonio Giovinazzi to move up into P13.
It is Ricciardo’s worst result of the season and only the second time this year he has missed out on crucial points in the drivers’ championship for finishing in the top 10.
His McLaren teammate Lando Norris continued his sensational form, finishing well ahead in fifth.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen led the race from start to finish to claim his fourth Grand Prix victory of the season and extend his lead over Lewis Hamilton to 18 points in the drivers’s championship.
Hamilton finished second, while his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton held off a fast-finishing Sergio Perez to round out the podium.
A loss of power proved costly for Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo at the Styrian Grand Prix. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)Source:AFP
“It was such a unlucky race, really. We went from 13th to eight,” Ricciardo said after the race.
“It was an awesome start, awesome first lap and put us in such a strong position ahead of a lot of our quicker rivals.
“We were sitting pretty and all of a sudden I lost power so every position and more that I gained I basically just waved them on through.
“We were able to fix it on track. It was a control issue so were able to get it but then it was too late.
“And then I’m back in the mess that I did well to get out of on the first lap.
“Then you’re in traffic and you’re in a train and then honestly the race is over after that.”
The 31-year-old was understandably shattered that the loss of power sucked all the momentum out of his race.
“It’s disheartening for sure. Out of our control for sure.
“I look at positions — I was ahead of Sainz on the same strategy and he finished sixth so I think we could have been sixth today.
“Yeah it was painful to see all the work undone when you’re trying to fix it and everyone’s just going past you.
“The weekend went from bad worse and I look forward to getting out of here and coming back next week with a fresh approach.”
Ricciardo said he wasn’t sure what the exact issue with his car was.
“It hasn’t (happened before). I don’t know exactly what it is yet.
“I know a lot of cars were looking for clear air to get some cooling so it could have been temperature-related. If I was to have a wild guess right now I would say that but I’m honestly not sure.
“I mean it’s obviously heartbreaking for me and disheartening but I’m not the only one that feels this pain.”
Daniel Ricciardo is coming under increasing pressure for his underwhelming performances for McLaren this year. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
F1 experts acknowledged Ricciardo was unlucky in Austria, but believe the excuses are starting to run out.
“I guess the worrying thing for Daniel was the impact that Charles Leclerc (P7) was able to make from having that first lap incident to challenging through,” Sky Sports commentator Paul Di Resta said.
“You have to have a good car but Daniel got stuck after he had that issue and wasn’t able to make an impact and the car clearly had speed.
“It’s always nice to come back to a track the next week and see how you can go, but if he has another performance like he had this weekend, that’s another dent (to his confidence) and it really is hard.
“His style needs to be adaptable, it needs to be able to change because clearly whatever he’s doing at the moment is not working and not in love with that McLaren.
“That’s quite a hard thing to unlock (the car’s potential) if you need confidence in a different way from a car and you can see that’s what’s hurting him.
“He’s smiling and keeping going but I think in his head, it’s denting.
“He’s in this McLaren contract for the long run as well so he needs to fix it because the team aren’t going to re-engineer a car that’s already doing very well.”
Fellow expert commentator Johnny Herbert was more upbeat about Ricciardo’s prospects.
“You’ve got to try and dig deep when these sort of negative things happen and then bounce back from it,” he said.
“A guy like Daniel — he’s obviously able to do that — he’s proven that in the past.
“But it’s just very difficult when you’ve got Lando doing such a good job at the same time. “Sometimes, then it takes that little bit longer. But Daniel’s got everything he needs to get these results going. He just needs a little bit more luck.”
Ricciardo’s fans are losing patience with his string of sub-par results this year.
Keeping in mind that I a) just finished Drive to Survive and b) missed the first 64 laps…
what happened to daniel ricciardo?
Can I start a gofundme to buy Daniel Ricciardo out of his contract? 😏#Ricciardo#McLaren#formula1#WTF1
When will the excuses stop @McLarenF1 and give @danielricciardo a big kick up the ass!! #f1#McLaren
McLaren should get an osteopath to check Lando's back. He is under massive pressure carrying the team by himself
Pre-race, McLaren team principal Zac Brown delivered a scathing rebuke of Ricciardo’s underwhelming season so far.
“We are surprised and disappointed as he is at how long it’s taking him to get up to speed,” he told Sky Sports.
“We have just got to keep working hard at it. In France he had a good run, in Spain he had a good run, so we know it’s there.
“We’ve just got to keep our heads down and today will be about strategy. Just keep working hard — he’ll get there, we’ll get there.
“It shows how good Lando (Norris) is — which doesn’t surprise us, but maybe he has surprised a few people this year just how fast he is.”
Brown is looking for more consistency from his Australian charge.
“Daniel has done it then had some off weekends, so it just shows he is still getting comfortable with the car.
“But you don’t win seven Grands Prix by accident, so we’ve got a lot of confidence once he gets in that zone he’ll be fine.”
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