Ricciardo: Returning to racing harder than expected

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Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that getting back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car was harder than he expected following Jules Bianchi’s horrific accident at the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend.

Bianchi crashed into a recovery vehicle in the closing stages of the race at Suzuka, and remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital having sustained severe head injuries. The entire F1 community continues to send its love to Bianchi and his family, and the grid is racing with messages of support on the cars and helmets this weekend.

Speaking after practice in Russia today, Ricciardo admitted that getting back to work wasn’t as easy as he expected it to be following the events of last weekend.

“After what happened in Japan, you try and do the best you car,” Ricciardo said. “I would be lying if I said other things weren’t on my mind, but you do what you can to make sure you’re 100% committed to driving and that’s the best way for our job and our headspace.

“It’s the best way, but it was tricky and not as easy as I expected.”

Ricciardo’s thoughts were echoed by his Red Bull teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who said he found racing just days after the accident very difficult.

“Does getting back in the car help us after what’s happened? It does and it doesn’t,” he said. “It helps to get your head elsewhere and focus on the day job – looking after the best possible set up and comparing the tires and learning the new track, it keeps you occupied.

“But on the other hand it’s only been a couple of days, so it’s quite fresh and difficult.”

Red Bull struggled during practice on Friday as neither Vettel nor Ricciardo bothered the front-runners in Sochi, and its problems only grew when Ricciardo pulled over at the side of the track with an engine issue.

However, the Australian driver confirmed that this unit was not going to be used later in the weekend, meaning that he will avoid a grid penalty.

“It was our last Friday with that engine, so it’s not a worry that she turned off at the end there,” he said. “We tried a few settings and we’re not so fast here, the straights are long and we’re suffering a bit.”