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Ricciardo hits out at penalty

NEWS STORY
24/03/2018

Daniel Ricciardo has slammed the stewards decision which sees him handed a grid penalty for his home race.

The Australian was penalised for not staying above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU under the red flag during Friday's second session which was brought about when a piece of wire used by the timing system fell on to the track.

At the time of the red flag the Australian was on his first flying lap on the ultrasoft tyres in a bid to join his teammate and the Mercedes and Ferrari duos at the top of the timing sheets.

While the she Stewards found that the Red Bull driver slowed by as much as 175 km/h from his fast times at Turn 12 and was consistently and significantly slower in the final three turns, indicating that he was fully complying with the requirements of Appendix H of the International Sporting Code, he admitted an error in reading his dash and was slightly below the minimum time.

As the regulation states, Art. 31.6 was added this year to ensure that drivers reduce speed sufficiently during a red flag. Breach of this regulation is seen to be an extremely serious matter. However, in this case, the stewards thoroughly reviewed the breach and found that the driver slowed significantly, such that no danger was created, and that Ricciardo proceeded with due care and therefore imposed a lesser penalty than usual, handing him a three grid place penalty and two penalty points.

"I think I can agree with everyone, there's other penalties they could have used," said Ricciardo on arriving at the Melbourne track this morning. "To give me a grid penalty before the season has even started is shithouse.

"I slowed down," he insisted, "I knew there was a red flag, I didn't go slow enough. It was just an honest mistake but should that really rob me of a front row start? They could give me a reprimand, they could give me a fine, I don't care, just don't rob me of a front-row start."

While his frustration was shared by team boss Christian Horner, the Briton admitted that the stewards had no real choice.

"I don't think they wanted to give him the penalty but they had to," he said. "You could see from the wording of the statement that they tried to water it down as best they could.

"It's just so unfortunate for Daniel, home driver, home race," he added. "I've never seen him as angry as he was last night. It's still eating him up and he's still pretty revved up about it."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Melbourne, here.

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