Daniel Ricciardo was slapped with a grid penalty, missed the start with a mechanical problem and retired halfway through the Australian Grand Prix as his season-opening Formula One race unfolded disastrously on Sunday.
The Australian driver’s day started badly when he was 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 when he had mechanical failure on the warmup and his car was transported back to the garages.
The scheduled start was aborted and cars did an extra formation lap because another of the drivers was not in place, but Ricciardo was still in the pits when the other 19 cars got the race underway.
Ricciardo, who placed third in the 2016 drivers’ championship, started the race from pit lane when the leaders had completed the first lap with instructions over the radio to have fun and “get stuck in.”
Two other cars retired before Ricciardo stopped again, this time at turn three on the 28th lap, with what appeared to be trouble with his left front wheel.
“His day just went from bad to worse ... It’s not Daniel’s day,” Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said.
Even Ricciardo, who placed fourth in Australia last year and is immensely popular with the local crowd, had to shake his head as he reported back over the team radio “I guess we can’t save it. Let’s get ... out of here.”