By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Daniel Ricciardo has been hit with a three-place grid penalty for the Australian Grand Prix.
The 28-year-old Aussie was found by race stewards to have been going too fast under red flag conditions just past halfway in the second practice session. The interruption came due to a loose wire at the start/finish line. The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing pilot was on a qualifying simulation lap when the session was halted, but while returning to the pits was deemed to have been going above the minimum time set by FIA ECU.
Timing showed that Ricciardo, who was said to have misread his dash display, had slowed significantly in the final corners, but it was still decided that he breached the regulations.
“The stewards reviewed the data and video and found that Ricciardo did in fact fail to stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU in the penultimate and final mini marshalling sectors,” the race stewards’ decision explained.
“The stewards also found that Ricciardo slowed by as much as 175kph 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. However, 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 the driver proceeded with due care.
“The stewards therefore are imposing a lesser penalty than usual, and impose a three-grid place penalty and two penalty points.”
In addition to the grid drop, Ricciardo has received two penalty points on his superlicense.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the five-time Grand Prix winner has been roughed up for his home race. In 2014, a second-place run was taken away after his car was found to have had a fuel flow irregularity.
Subsequently, that puts his best finish Down Under with a fourth-place effort in 2016. Last year, he was hit with a five-place grid penalty after a gearbox change and had to start the race from 15th, which ended with a retirement following a power unit issue.