Drained Ricciardo left gutted by 'unlucky' start to 2019

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team RS19.
ยฉ XPB 

New Renault signing Daniel Ricciardo was hoping to make an early jump on his rivals when the lights went out for the start of the first race of the 2019, the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

But his plan to fly down the inside of Racing Point's Sergio Perez into turn 1 backfired when he ran onto the grass and wrecked his front wing on what he said was a massive gutter.

"I feel that was pretty unlucky," Ricciardo said. "I just put two wheels on [the grass], and the next thing there's a massive gutter there. Or gutter ditch."

Ricciardo was quick to absolve Perez of any responsibility for the incident, acknowledging that the Mexican driver had left him enough room heading down the start-finish straight.

"Sergio's start wasn't great [so] I had a bit of a run," he commented. "He made a little flinch, but when it happens that quick you see him move, so I moved. And then he straightened up.

"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," he added. "The next thing I'm on the grass."

Even so, plenty of cars have strayed onto the grass verge at Albert Park without such major consequences. For Ricciardo however, things turned out rather differently.

"When I hit the grass, I wasn't actually too concerned," he said. "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," he sighed.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 at the start of the race with Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Renault F1 Team RS19 behind with a broken front wing.

Ricciardo pitted for a new front wing, which dropped him to the back of the grid. Although he was soon back around Williams Robert Kubica, the car lacked pace and was clearly suffering from more serious damage.

"I do believe we have a problem, I don't think it was playing safe," Ricciardo said when asked what the reason for the retirement had been. "I thought it was, but apparently we had some issues, so I hope it's not greater than that."

Eventually he was forced to pull back onto pit lane a second time, and retired on lap 28. But Ricciardo was still able to make a pun when he spoke to reporters back in the paddock while the race was still going on.

โ€œIโ€™m just drained," he quipped, perhaps unintentionally. He went on to make a serious point about the pressures of performing in a home race, coupled with the hard work settling into a new team after his switch from Red Bull to Renault over the winter.

โ€œIt's tough. This week is a tough one because we're always pushing uphill, and you can never do enough.

"Just trying to please everyone this week and I don't look after myself. I'll change it for next year," he said. โ€œI feel like itโ€™s hard to get things going well here.

"But I feel we did more than enough. I don't know. I don't want to blame that. But I feel flat for more reasons than one."

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