'Couldn't do much': F1 blunder continues Daniel Ricciardo disaster

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Daniel Ricciardo admitted to making some errors on the way to ninth place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix for McLaren. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo admitted to making some errors on the way to ninth place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix for McLaren. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Daniel Ricciardo couldn't escape the spectre of his qualifying nightmare at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, finishing ninth as Red Bull's Sergio Perez won a race of attrition.

Both Lance Stroll and race leader Max Verstappen fell victim to frightening tyre failures down the main straight of the Baku street circuit, which plunged each into the barriers at more than 300kph.

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Verstappen's crash with just a handful of laps left brought out the red flags, but Ricciardo was able to make little of the race restart.

The 31-year-old Australian had managed to work his way up to 10th from 13th on the grid, with reigning champion Lewis Hamilton's error at turn one gifting Ricciardo ninth.

Teammate Lando Norris finished fifth, and remains the only driver on the grid to have scored points in every race so far this season.

Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel and Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly rounded out the podium.

Speaking after the race, Ricciardo admitted to a crucial error - locking up his brakes and flat-spotting the hard tyres McLaren fitted during his pitstop.

"There were moments today in the race where I was thinking, ‘I hope it becomes a bit more exciting’ and suddenly it did,” Ricciardo said.

"We had some positive moments, but also a few difficult periods. I flat-spotted the hard (tyres) a bit, so that became tricky for the last few laps before the red flag, but not too bad beforehand.

"The last start, I felt like I got a good launch, and had a good run on the outside but there wasn’t really much room with a couple of cars on the inside. 

"It just all bottlenecked into Turn Two and I felt a hit from behind. I couldn’t really do much, but we’ll keep working on our plan and keep moving forward.”

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Ricciardo now sits 10th in the drivers championship, with Vettel and Gasly's podium finishes enough to lift them ahead in the standings.

Perez wins in Baku after Verstappen crash

The finish in Baku just might have been an unintentional preview of the changes Formula One plans to experiment with later this season in an effort to add excitement to the on-track product.

Championship leader Verstappen crashed out of the lead with four laps remaining to bring out a red flag that set up the unconventional shootout from a standing start.

Lewis Hamilton went off course trying to pass Perez for the lead, marking the first time since 2016 that the top two in the championship standings failed to score points.

That made for an unfamiliar podium as Perez, Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly all finished in the top three for the first time this year.

Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly celebrate with Azerbaijan GP winner Sergio Perez of Red Bull. (Photo by Maxim Shemetov - Pool/Getty Images)
Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly celebrate with Azerbaijan GP winner Sergio Perez of Red Bull. (Photo by Maxim Shemetov - Pool/Getty Images)

Verstappen had no warning his tyre was about to fail as he slammed into the wall. The Dutchman climbed from his car, inspected the tyre and kicked it in anger before stomping off in disgust over the race-changing failure.

"Sometimes you can hate this sport," Verstappen said after the race.

Red Bull was clearly concerned about the Pirelli tyres after a similar accident ended Lance Stroll's race earlier and under red flag the team asked F1 that the cars be allowed to change tyres before the two-lap sprint to the finish.

F1 had previously announced it would experiment with half-hour sprint races in places of qualifying later this season. Baku was an unexpected preview of an even shorter, more explosive format.

"I was quite happy. It always brings a bit more excitement. It creates some sort of adrenaline inside you," Gasly said of the two-lap sprint that decided the race.

With AAP

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