Gutted Ricciardo a spectator, while Ferrari return triumphant

Rodney Gordon Columnist

By , Rodney Gordon is a Roar Expert

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    This year’s Australian Grand Prix answered some questions but raised even more for Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull.

    The Australian was mostly a spectator for the race, which saw Sebastian Vettel leapfrog Lewis Hamilton through a well-executed pit and tyre management strategy, a complete reversal of last year where he was in a strong position but fumbled the chance of victory.

    Although personally disappointed with his dire performance, Ricciardo was equally disappointed for the tens of thousands of spectators that came to support their local hero.

    “It’s been a long week. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun but I feel bad for the fans,” said Ricciardo after the race.

    Incurring a gearbox penalty that saw him start from P15 on the grid, Ricciardo’s car stalled on the way to starting grid. Although the team were able to revive it in the garage and he was able to participate, his efforts were nothing more than information gathering as the team searches desperately for answers to their performance deficit before finally stalling once and for all.

    “Basically, it just switched off. It was instant. There was nothing I could do to restart,” he explained.

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    Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen had a stable race, finishing well off the pace in a solid fifth. Every lap the drivers did fed useful data back to the team that can be analysed before the next race in China.

    Singapore Grand Prix

    “It was still valuable lap time. If I’m going to look on the bright side Max looks to be doing a relatively quick pace, so maybe we can learn something from his race today.”

    Ferrari were jubilant at Vettel’s victory, their first in eighteen months. The infamous Italian passion for motorsport was on full display.

    “It was about time,” said Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne.

    “Hearing the Italian national anthem again was very moving,” he added. “Sebastian delivered a great race and I am sure Kimi will be soon up there battling alongside his teammate.”

    The question remains whether Mercedes had the pace to hang on to the victory, or whether a Ferrari victory was inevitable. Certainly Hamilton’s pit stop was on the slow side, and every lap he spent following Max Verstappen helped Vettel build a gap.

    However, Hamilton admitted after the race that he was struggling with his tyres “from the get-go”, forcing him to an earlier pitstop and throughout the second phase of the race he simply wasn’t able to match Vettel’s pace, even in clear air.

    “The Ferrari was the quicker car,” admitted Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

    “We were pushing flat-out and we were just not able to pull away. There was the risk of the undercut, and we both thought that the tyres wouldn’t last any more.

    “Coming out behind Max, who was fighting his own race, just lost us the race. We had hoped for Max to pit early, and therefore being in free air. It was a combination of variables that went against us.”