On Saturday afternoon Daniel Ricciardo was sporting his infectious grin having secured pole position for the Mexican Grand Prix with a lap that surprised everyone, not least his clearly disappointed teammate.
Twenty-four hours later and while battling to hold off Sebastian Vettel for second, defying the German with tyres that were way beyond their best, the Australian suffered a suspected hydraulics failure.
The retirement marked his sixth failure in eleven races, and with his Monaco triumph a distant memory, not to mention that in that time his teammate has suffered just one DNF and none since the summer break when he announced he was leaving Red Bull, Ricciardo was understandably upset.
“I don’t think ‘frustration’ is the word anymore,” he admitted. “Everything feels hopeless. You know, honestly, now where I am, I don’t see the point of coming on Sunday, I don’t see the point of doing the next two races.
“I haven’t had a clean race or weekend in so long,” he continued. “I’m not superstitious or any of this bullshit, but… the car’s cursed. I don’t have any more words.”
With just ten laps remaining, the Australian was looking good for a podium, and though Vettel would have surely picked him off, he was almost certain to finish ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. This despite a poor start which saw him drop to third.
“Helpless I think is the best word,” he sighed. “Even today, you know, the starts have been good all weekend, the practice starts, and for the race start, it’s all over the place with the pre-start.
“Things are happening on Sunday which I’ve got no more explanation for,” he continued. “The car… I’ll let Gasly drive it, I’m done with it.”
With so many retirements following his shock decision to leave Red Bull for Renault, the conspiracy theorists have been having a field day and some of Ricciardo’s words could be construed as that he agrees with them
“We need to get the car back but you can see the smoke come out of the back of the car, ten laps from the end,” said team boss Christian Horner. “It’s just gutting for him because he had driven a great race on old tyres, holding off Sebastian before that tell-tale sign of smoke. All we could do was retire the car.”
On a day of mixed emotions for the team, what with Max Verstappen taking a convincing victory, the Briton admitted: “The thing that feels bittersweet is we should’ve have had them both up there.”
Check out our Sunday gallery from Mexico City, here.