Despite grid penalty likely looming, Ricciardo has nowhere to go but up in Austria

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Daniel Ricciardo entered Austria a year ago on the strength of an emotional, popular first Grand Prix victory in Montreal a fortnight earlier.

This year, the Australian has had to reset expectations heading into Red Bull’s home race at the Red Bull Ring, but he is doing better than he was at Canada, he told NBCSN’s Will Buxton on Thursday.

“[I was] a little bit emotional. But obviously I’ve reset since then,” Ricciardo told NBCSN. “I’m not gonna hope or expect a massive weekend for us. This is not a strong suit for us. But I just have to make sure to get the best out of it and do better than Canada.”

Ricciardo is facing a potential grid penalty for a change of power units, and while no decision is official yet, it seems likely they will opt to take the penalty.

“Yeah at least we’ll have some cars to overtake,” he told NBCSN. “I don’t think we’ll be alone. We’ll charge up the front, and hopefully have something to smile about.”

He added to that bit during the Thursday press conference.

“It’s likely. We’re definitely looking into it,” he said. “I think we’ll have a decision probably by this evening as to what we’ll do this weekend. It’s likely we’ll take a penalty here. If it’s not here it’s in the next few. We have to see as well what chance we have coming up in Silverstone and Budapest. Wouldn’t be a surprise if we see it here but probably a few hours away from a decision.”

Ricciardo reflected further on the change in vibe 12 months later within himself, and within the team.

“I think that now it’s… yeah, we’re in a different position this year. Obviously a massive high. I think sitting at this press conference last year… I think it’s just reassess and re-evaluate our, or my, let’s say, expectations for what we’re capable of at the moment,” he said.

“And yeah, obviously I experienced some of the lows in Canada and then after that weekend I looked back on it all and said ‘OK, we have to, unfortunately for now, lower the bar and just try to not really look at the big picture of getting a podium or getting inside the top five, it’s just making sure we can just maximise our weekend for now and try and bring the team forwards as quick as possible.

“I know there’s lots of updates coming, some have worked more than others – but obviously we’re still pushing, we’re still trying. Like all things, they do take time, I think. You hope it turns around quicker but that’s the nature of the sport sometimes. Just learn to be a bit more patient I guess, and just make sure at least that I’m maximising my weekend.

“Obviously Canada wasn’t a good weekend, so just try and get back, let’s say, on the front foot this weekend and whatever position it puts us in, we’ll accept it and just try and keep the head down and more forwards.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.