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Daniel Ricciardo had a day to forget at the Mexican GP, somehow escaping a penalty after colliding with polesitter Valtteri Bottas at the first corner of the race.
The Aussie McLaren driver was making a typically daring move under brakes at the first corner, with the long run down to the first bend often lending itself to some chaos.
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Monday morning's (AEST) grand prix was no exception as Ricciardo, who started 7th, stormed down the inside of the track to get as high as fourth place before the turn one braking zone.
With the field bunched up at the end of the long straight into turn one, Ricciardo locked his front brakes slightly as he tried to slow his McLaren for the first turn.
He wasn't able to scrub enough speed off the car though, clattering into the right rear of Mercedes driver Bottas and sending him into a spin.
The was a knock-on effect down the field which also saw the likes of Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher and Esteban Ocon all tangling - with the former two retiring from the race.
Ricciardo said he apologised to Bottas after the race, with the Aussie finishing 12th and the Finn a lowly 15th, after a botched pitstop erased any hopes Bottas had of climbing back towards a points finish.
Both drivers wound up at the back of the field, after Ricciardo had to put to change his broken front wing.
“There was definitely a lot going on. I still haven’t seen a full replay,” Ricciardo said after the race.
“After braking I remember there was room on the inside with Perez, so there was a gap, and it was one of those ones where if you don’t go for the gap then someone else will and you can easily get swallowed up.
"I locked a little bit and obviously Valtteri has come across, so a combination of that and obviously we hit.
“I apologised to him. I’m not sure without really seeing it but I’m the one who went into him and at the very least say sorry to him now and see if there’s much I could have done of if it’s just a turn one incident bottle-neck type of thing."
Fans on social media were surprised Ricciardo escaped a penalty, despite the Aussie's status as a fan favourite.
Adding insult to injury, Bottas was unable to overtake Ricciardo on the track - making a miserable race even more testing.
Gotta feel for Bottas. Poor guy is probably sick of the sight of Ricciardo
— Azeem Banatwalla (@TheBanat) November 7, 2021
How was Ricciardo not penalised for that lap one move?😂
— Jarno Opmeer (@jarno_opmeer) November 7, 2021
If you’re Valtteri Bottas you feel a bit miffed that Daniel Ricciardo won’t be punished for punting him off at the start. I think people have been given penalties for less this season. #MexicoGP
— Christian Hewgill 🎙 (@ChrisHewgill) November 7, 2021
Ricciardo got a huge start from 7th on the grid, was side-by-side with Perez under braking - but then tapped Bottas and sent him around. Picked up front wing damage that needed sorting in the pits #F1 #F1 #MexicoGP
— Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1) November 7, 2021
🗣 | @SMitchellF1
'It's that consistency issue again. Needs explaining why Ricciardo hitting Bottas was supposedly OK, when Gasly got a penalty for hitting Alonso at Turn 1 in Istanbul even though he had Perez on his inside making it three-wide.'#MexicanGP | #F1 https://t.co/FoqglwI3wK
— The Race (@wearetherace) November 7, 2021
Fans surprised Daniel Ricciardo escapes Mexican GP without penalty
Ricciardo was fortunate not to be handed a penalty from the stewards for turning Bottas around, with the leniency allowed for the argy-bargy of lap one meaning the contact between the pair was classified as a 'racing incident'.
Former F1 world champion Jenson Button said it was surprising Ricciardo wasn't penalised, suggesting the Aussie driver had been caught off guard by Bottas trying to make a move on teammate Lewis Hamilton.
I’m surprised he didn’t get a serious penalty for that," Button said on the broadcast.
"Watching it again it’s like Valtteri is trying to get the switch back on Lewis and I think that’s why it surprised Daniel a little bit.”
Max Verstappen has stretched his lead over Lewis Hamilton in the Formula One season championship with a dominant victory at the Mexico City Grand Prix.
Verstappen, who started third after struggling in qualifying, now leads Hamilton by 19 points with four races left in the season.
Hamilton finished second in Sunday's race and had to fight off Sergio Perez as Verstappen's Red Bull teammate finished third to become the first Mexican driver to reach the podium in the history of the race.
Verstappen earned his ninth win of the season, second in a row and third career victory in Mexico City. The 24-year-old Dutchman is chasing his first career championship.
"It's still a long way to go but it's of course looking good, but also it can turn around very quickly," said Verstappen of his big step forward in the championship battle.
"I kept it on the track, came from third to first and that was basically what made my race because I could just focus on myself, and we had incredible pace in the car."
Hamilton is seeking a record eighth title, including the last four in a row. The British driver is currently tied with Michael Schumacher for most in F1 history.
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