Installation lap damage costly for Ricciardo in Malaysia

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Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that his retirement from last Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix was due to damage caused on the installation lap before the race.

Torrential rain hit the Sepang International Circuit just before the start of the race, and Ricciardo was one of many drivers who had an off whilst making their way to the grid.

“Out of the box I wanted to push hard because I knew we’d be starting on the inter tires and I wanted to get a good feel for it in the conditions,” Ricciardo explained. “I came into the corner, started to aquaplane and had that ‘aw crikey’ moment as I slid toward the gravel.

“I had a look and the floor was pretty badly damaged. The mechanics did what they could to fix it on the grid but there was only so much they could do in the short amount of time available.”

The damage didn’t seem to hinder Ricciardo too greatly off the start, and he challenged in the points for the majority of the race.

“The start itself was fine. I managed to gain a couple of positions on the first lap and I think I got in front of both Lotuses. They are quicker than us but I managed to keep them behind.

“But we were getting killed in the high-speed corners with a lot of understeer because of the damage.”

Eventually, Ricciardo retired from the race, and the Australian driver was angry to have suffered the damage in such circumstances.

“That’s how it goes sometimes but I was pretty angry nonetheless.”

Toro Rosso have shown good pace so far this season, with Jean-Eric Vergne scoring the team’s first point in Malaysia, and Ricciardo will be keen to see an upturn in fortunes so he can score his first points of the season at the next race in China.

‘Still quite early’ for Ricciardo to think about Red Bull F1 future

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Daniel Ricciardo feels it is “still quite early” to make a decision about his Red Bull Formula 1 future despite seeing teammate Max Verstappen announce on Friday he would be staying with the team until 2020.

Verstappen, 20, put pen to paper on an enhanced F1 contract with Red Bull, with his previous deal due to expire at the end of next season in parallel to Ricciardo’s own agreement.

Ricciardo was asked following practice on Friday why he is yet to strike a new deal for himself with Red Bull, and explained he is in no rush to make a final decision when he has over a year to run on his current contract.

“It’s not that I’ve said no to anything. It’s just still quite early I think,” Ricciardo explained.

“People talked a little bit about contracts and the silly season for next year, but I thought that would still happen next year. It’s still quite early.

“If I’m to try and extract some positives out of his news it’s that it gives us good confidence for next year. He and his management see a lot of positives in the team to continue like that.

“I’m 100 per cent here next year, I can at least say that, and I think it gives both of us confidence that we’ll keep progressing the way we are.”

Red Bull said upon announcing Verstappen’s new deal that it wants to “build a team around him”, with the 20-year-old standing out as a once-in-a-generation talent.

The focus surrounding Verstappen has not left Ricciardo feeling as though he is in the shade or in any way playing second-fiddle to the Dutchman, stressing he has no internal concerns at Red Bull.

“For sure, as far as media goes, he certainly gets a lot of attention. He’s broken records for his age and things like that, so rightly so,” Ricciardo said.

“Take the media out of it, as far as inside the team, new parts on the car, things like this, there’s always been parity and equality.”

Verstappen is only the third driver to commit to a deal beyond the end of next season, following Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari and Fernando Alonso at McLaren on multi-year contracts.

All 10 F1 teams have at least one free seat for 2019, making Ricciardo a possible candidate for seats with either Mercedes or Ferrari were he to consider a move away from Red Bull.

Speaking to British broadcaster Sky Sports, Red Bull F1 advisor Helmut Marko said he felt Ricciardo was “putting himself on the market” by waiting to make a decision on his future, but that talks would take place when possible.