Ricciardo slams officials over penalty

The trademark smile was nowhere to be seen as Red Bull star Daniel Ricciardo slammed officials for a grid penalty that has dented his chances of winning a maiden Australian Grand Prix.

Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo is angry after copping a four-position penalty for Sunday's race.

Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo is angry after copping a four-position penalty for Sunday's race.

But Red Bull chief Christian Horner believes the controversial sanction had fired up the crowd favourite to become the first Australian to claim their home grand prix on Sunday.

Ricciardo's famous grin was wiped off his face after being hit with a three place grid penalty for the Formula One season opener for speeding under red flag conditions in Friday's second practice.

He was fifth fastest in Saturday's qualifying, but will start from eighth spot due to the penalty.

"I think it's s***house," Ricciardo told Channel Ten.

"Yesterday's news has been pretty bitter for me - I'm pissed to say the least.

"I just think common sense should have prevailed."

Ricciardo tried to vent his frustration in Saturday's qualifying but could not threaten four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's one-two punch of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Mercedes gun Hamilton clocked a lap record to claim his seventh pole position at Melbourne ahead of Raikkonen and Vettel respectively.

Red Bull boss Horner admitted he had never seen five-time grand prix winner Ricciardo so angry but believed it could be a good omen.

"I thought a reprimand or a fine was more appropriate," Horner said.

"He was very angry last night. I have never seen him that angry before.

"If he needed extra motivation - not that he did - to win this weekend he has got it, he is pretty pumped up.

"It might relieve the pressure on him, he can now just go for it.

"He has had some great wins for us. It would be great to see him add to them here."

Horner was still scratching his head over the penalty for the new rule introduced in 2018 which enforces a minimum speed for drivers in track sectors under a red flag to ensure they return to pit-lane without incident.

The red flag on Friday was prompted by debris found on the straight.

"It's hard enough for us to understand let alone explain it to the fans," Horner said.

"It's eating away at him but we have to deal with it."

The penalty added to Ricciardo's Albert Park curse.

In 2014, the Australian finished second on Red Bull debut behind Mercedes winner Nico Rosberg but was later disqualified due to a technical infringement.

And last year he crashed during qualifying, had to start the race from pit lane and ended up retiring midway.

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