Although we might question his business savvy in moving from Team Red Bull to Renault for the 2019 season of Formula 1 racing, we have to give credit where due to Daniel Ricciardo for taking the high road and maintaining his professionalism as his stint with Red Bull comes nearer its conclusion.
Ricciardo had a rough time of it at the Russian Grand Prix.
Plagued by power plant issues for much of the season, our anticipation was that Ricciardo would hang on with Red Bull into next year to learn if the intended switch from Renault to Honda engines would at least provide him with the reliability, if not the speed, to give a run to Mercedes and Ferrari.
The Russian Grand Prix was not an engine issue for him, although he was not in the running long enough for that concern to arise.
Rather, it was debris on the course that he struck in the opening lap that forced him to drive the entire race with a wounded car.
“The first lap wasn’t going that great, and then I broke the front wing,” Ricciardo explained.
It was debris on the course that broke the wing, not Ricciardo, so this was a case of bad racing fortune.
“I had a slipstream from, I think, a McLaren. As soon as I pulled out there was some debris in front of me and I hit that. I just didn’t have time to see it or react,” Ricciardo said.
Despite losing much of the car’s handling ability, Ricciardo managed to work his way up to sixth at the end of the race, but that sixth was almost a minute in arrears to the winners.
“He had a tough race today,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said.“He hit a piece of debris and did quite a bit of damage to the front wing. He lost about 30 points of downforce and put a lot of understeer into the car.”
The loss of handling forced him to ease his pace – never a good thing in a sports code where the race does go to the swift.