Ricciardo’s Renault bounced awkwardly over a gutter on the run to Turn 1 after he dropped his right-hand wheels onto the grass in reaction to a slow-starting Sergio Perez.
The impact tore the front wing off his car, immediately dashing any hopes of a decent result on home soil for the Aussie.
Having not expected to come across a gutter capable of causing significant damage, Ricciardo chalked the incident up as bad luck.
“I feel that was pretty unlucky,” he said. “I just put two wheels in [the grass] and the next thing there’s a massive gutter there, or gutter ditch, which I don’t feel is on many other places.”
Despite replays indicating there could have been enough room next to Perez to avoid running off-track, Ricciardo defended his decision to use the grass.
“Sergio’s start wasn’t great. I had a bit of a run,” he said.
“He made a little flinch, but when it happens that quick, you see him move, so I moved, then he straightened up, and the next thing I’m on the grass.
“But you never know how much he’s going to move. Because he was still in front at the time, you just follow his initial reaction.
“That second one just put my wheel in the grass. When I hit the grass, I wasn’t actually too concerned. I thought I’d just drive through it and I thought I had enough momentum to stay alongside him.
“But obviously that ditch was there, and that was it.”
Ricciardo carried on after pitting for a new front wing, but still wound up on the DNFs list after being called into the garage by his team.
He says he’s still not sure why the car was retired, but that his initial concern that the team was “playing it safe” has made way for worries there could be ongoing problems.
“I still don’t know, to be honest,” he said.
“I do believe we have a problem, I don’t think it was playing safe. I thought it was, but apparently we had some issues, so I hope it’s not greater than that.”