The Australian capped a wretched weekend by failing to finish yesterday’s season-opening Formula One race in Melbourne.
Ricciardo crashed during Saturday’s qualifying and the necessary repairs to his car meant he copped a penalty, sliding five spots down the grid.
But the sanction didn’t matter: Ricciardo’s car got stuck in sixth gear in a warm-up lap, meaning he started from pit lane – some two laps behind his rivals.
Then, midway through the race, the engine on his Red Bull Racing car gave up.
“On the plus side, I’m getting out of here,” Ricciardo said after a race won by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
“It has been a long week… I feel bad for everyone, for the fans.
“Obviously there’s more people here supporting me than the others and I’m sure they would have loved me to get out there and race but it just kind of snowballed.”
Ricciardo said his troubles would ultimately provide more motivation heading into the next grand prix in Shanghai from April 7.
“For all these things to happen at my home race, that is probably the most frustrating thing,” he said.
“We were on the back foot already after the crash in qualifying. And then we had an issue during the warm-up lap, followed by a second issue in the race.
“On both occasions the car just came to a stop, so I couldn’t do anything else.
“But it’s the first race so hopefully we’ll move forward from this.
“I’ll wake up and be motivated to get ready for China.”
While Ricciardo grappled with his horrors, a triumphant Vettel believes he’s ushered in a fresh competitive era in Formula One.
The Ferrari ace cruised to victory, finishing almost 10 seconds ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
And while Ricciardo felt “like crap” after bowing out midway through the race, Vettel hopes his victory signals the end of Mercedes’ three-year domination of the sport.
“Right now it looks like we have equal machinery,” Vettel said.
“I hope it stays that way.”
Even the vanquished Hamilton welcomed Ferrari’s first grand prix triumph in 18 months.
“Finally, we are at a period of time where we can actually have a real race,” Hamilton said.
“It has been a long time coming for them to get a result like this.
“It shows we are going to have a race on our hands, which we are very happy to have.”
Mercedes have rarely been challenged in collecting the past three constructors’ championships, and providing the past three individual world champions.
But Sunday’s season-opener around Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit evidenced the revival of the famed Ferrari, though Vettel remained wary.
“We are at the top in this grand prix but that is a small achievement,” he said.
“If you look who we are up against, Mercedes have been phenomenal in the last couple of years… they will be the ones to beat.”
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