SUZUKA, Japan — Daniel Ricciardo was left fuming after suffering yet another engine failure which cut short his qualifying session at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Australian complained of a power loss during Q2 at Suzuka and promptly returned to the pits where Red Bull mechanics swarmed his car. However, moments later he emerged from the cockpit and it became clear that his qualifying session was over.
Barring any penalties, Ricciardo will start the race from 15th on the grid while teammate Max Verstappen was able to take advantage of Ferrari’s weather misjudgment in Q3 to set the third quickest time. It’s the 11th straight race Ricciardo has been out-qualified by Verstappen but it hasn’t been the first time he has been hampered by Renault’s temperamental engine unit.
“I just blew out my vocals. I’m so p—–,” Ricciardo said immediately after qualifying. “As soon as I went on the throttle I knew something was up. I felt a loss of power out of the last corner, just before I started the lap. It was a throttle actuator, basically it broke, a mechanical piece broke. It’s a piece that’s about eight millimetres thick, apparently they take a beating. I Just can’t catch a break at the moment.”
When asked if his wretched run of luck can turn in tomorrow’s race, Ricciardo wasn’t so optimistic and stressed the importance of a strong Saturday in Japan.
“Hopefully, we’ll see. Qualifying is important here, like always, but it’s hard to follow and whatever but I’ll do what I can. I don’t know, it’s pretty painful at the moment.
“I was just sitting with my engineer before and we really struggled to think of a smooth weekend we’ve had from start to finish [this year]. I don’t want it to come across all negative, but I think it’s just more that we’ve had a really unlucky one. Obviously I’m frustrated and fed up, but I’m not going to let it get the best of me.”
Since winning the Monaco Grand Prix back in May, Ricciardo has not featured on the podium and on Thursday he told media in Japan that this was the race he was confident of a return.
His latest setback comes just weeks after his shock announcement that he will depart Red Bull for Renault at the end of 2018.