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Bahrain: Ricciardo driver to watch

2014-04-06 11:27

PUSH THAT SHOVED OUT RICCIARDO: 'Unsafe release' because of a loose wheel cost Australian Daniel Ricciardo heavily in his home 2014 F1 GP. Image: AFP

SAKHIR, Bahrain - Daniel Ricciardo's so far roller-coaster 2014 Formula 1 season has now seen him qualify third-fastest for the 2014 Bahrain Formula 1 GP with raw speed which again put struggling F1 champion and Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel in the shade.

Australian Ricciardo, 24, was only 0.866sec off the pole time of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg in a barnstorming drive that was given extra impetus by the knowledge that he had a 10-place grid penalty hanging over him as punishment for a pits-lane infringement in Malaysia the previous week.

ILLEGAL RELEASE

• In Australia the youngster was stripped of second place in his home race when his car was disqualified for having an inaccurate fuel-flow meter. An appeal decision is pending.

• In Malaysia he drove off from a pit stop with a loose wheel - an illegal "unsafe" release - and his pit crew had to push the car back the "box", another infringement.

• As he returned to the track, stone last from fourth, Ricciardo's front wing came loose and damaged a front tyre - another pit stop.

• He then had to serve a 10-second stop/go penalty before retiring.

None of the above was his fault.

Despite his travails, the ever-smiling Aussie was still optimistic that he could charge back through the field under the Sakhir floodlights on Sunday to make a deposit in his 2014 points account.

"We've some good guys in the office back there. I'm sure they'll do what they can to get me as far up to the front as possible," he said. "I would love to charge through and have a podium after but, realistically, we just have to get some points to start with. My season has been going well but I don't have any points to show for it."

GOOD FOR VETTEL

Ricciardo's carry-over penalty was, perversely, good for team mate Sebastian Vettel, who missed out on Saturday's final qualifying session by timing 11th, will now start 10th. The indignity of being too slow on the second session was the latest bad event in a miserable week: he bedded down in the gravel during Saturday's third and final practice session and so made the second-slowest time.

Ricciardo's blistering performance on Saturday even prompted cheeky suggestions that the Australian should now be considered Red Bull's No.1 driver but Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, who has pole, was aware of the trap: "

"I don't really want to rate them. Sebastian is clearly a fantastic driver, one of the best out there. Daniel is doing a great job and definitely deserves his Red Bull seat.

"It will be an interesting battle between them."
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