Daniel Ricciardo hit with Bahrain grid drop after first double unsafe release penalty
But Sky F1 pundits feel sorry for Daniel after 'harsh' new sanction
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 31/03/14 7:54am
Sky Sports F1's pundits have expressed sympathy for Daniel Ricciardo after the Australian's nightmare Malaysia GP was compounded by a 'harsh' double punishment for Red Bull's unsafe pitstop release.
Two weeks after being disqualified from second place at his home Australian GP, Ricciardo had been on course to finish fourth behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel at Sepang only for his fortunes to nosedive with 15 laps to go when he was released from his final pitstop without his front-left wheel properly attached.
After stopping in the middle of the pitlane and then being pushed back to the Red Bull pitbox so the team's mechanics could properly attach the wheel, Ricciardo soon suffered a front-wing breakage on his return to the track and then a five-second stop-and-go penalty for Red Bull's pitstop infringement.
However, under new-for-2014 Sporting Regulations designed to clamp down hard on teams releasing cars from pitstops with wheels incorrectly fitted, it was confirmed after the race that Ricciardo had also been hit with a ten-place grid penalty for the next grand prix in Bahrain.
The newly-inserted Article 23.12 c of the 2014 Sporting Regulation states that "if a car is deemed to have been released in an unsafe condition during a race the driver concerned will receive a ten grid place penalty at the driver's next Event. However, if any car released in an unsafe condition is able to resume the race a penalty under Article 16.3(c) will also be imposed on the driver concerned."
Although a combination of fines and drive-through penalties had previously been issued to teams for unsafe releases, Sky F1's Ted Kravitz explained why the penalty was now far more stringent.
"It's just to try to make the teams focus and not go so crazy on a two-second pitstop and actually make sure you've got the wheels on before you send the guy out," Ted said. "Clearly that hasn't worked with Red Bull.
Ricciardo's frontwing then broke on his return to the track
"In their case the pins on the wheel weren't seated in the holes so the guy thought he was doing up the nut, presumably pressed the button which illuminates the green pitstop light, and by the time he realised it was still wobbly Ricciardo had already been given the green light to go."
Nonetheless, expert analyst Martin Brundle reckoned the double punishment was particularly heavy for the driver.
"They didn't even send the car back out onto the race track, did they?" Brundle mused.
"They spotted their mistake and pulled it back in. So it seems really harsh, but rules is rules."
Former F1 driver Bruno Senna, meanwhile, said the 24-year-old could count himself unlucky, particularly after being denied a maiden podium in Melbourne.
"He must be really gutted now. He has another big challenge next time in Bahrain with another ten cars in front of him extra of whatever he qualifies," Senna said.
"I feel sorry for him. He's been doing a great job today, another solid race from him but then the trouble hit and he didn't get the points he deserved."
Fellow Sky F1 pundit Johnny Herbert, though, while acknowledging the unfortunate nature of the penalty for the driver, said the stop-and-go in isolation would have been a fairly meaningless penalty given Ricciardo had already fallen a lap behind and out of contention by the time he served it.
"It [the stop/go] made no difference to his race result, so the team would have got away with it," Herbert argued.
"But then it's a big punishment for the team in the next race. Unfortunately the driver in the car will get the punishment at the same time, but it was the teams who I believe agreed to do it."