Daniel Ricciardo’s weekend got off to a rough start. Picture: Getty
Daniel Ricciardo’s weekend got off to a rough start. Picture: Getty

‘Not cool’: Ricciardo crippled again

CHARLES Leclerc set a scorching pace at an incident-packed practice session at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but Daniel Ricciardo could finish only in 15th place after a disjointed day.

Leclerc was faster than teammate Sebastian Vettel in a Ferrari one-two on the time sheets.

The 21-year-old lapped the 6km circuit through the streets of Baku with a best time of one minute 42.872 seconds, 0.324 seconds quicker than Vettel.

The Ferrari pair were comfortably clear of Lewis Hamilton, the championship leader, who was 0.669 seconds slower than Leclerc's best in his Mercedes.

Max Verstappen was fourth for Red Bull ahead of Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas in fifth.

Renault's Ricciardo managed just one installation lap in an interrupted Practice 1, which was eventually cancelled following a chaotic incident where George Russell's Williams was damaged after running over a loose drain cover.

Ricciardo, who won in Baku from 10th on the grid with his former team Red Bull in 2017, clocked a best time of 1:45.483, having suffered a lock-up heading into turn 15 of his second outing.

The 29-year-old's practice was cut short for good because Renault ran out of usable tyres for him after he flat-spotted two sets in the opening hour.

Ricciardo was unable to head back out and lost 40 minutes of track time.

"Today was a little bit stop-start. In the second session, I had one clean lap, which wasn't too bad at the time," Ricciardo told the Renault website.

"We had two brake lock-ups on two sets of tyres which resulted in two big flat spots. We couldn't continue after that.

"We have a few things to sort out ahead of tomorrow, especially trying to get the car happier on the brakes."

Most would have thought the cancellation of P1 after Russell's misfortune was the weirdest thing to happen on a dramatic day, but Ricciardo said P2 was even more "strange" for him and he was clearly frustrated at his lack of time on track ahead of qualifying.

"It (P1) was strange for sure and then P2 was probably even more strange," Ricciardo said, according to Motorsport.com.

"I missed the last half-hour or more. Normally around here it's because you've crashed. My reason was flat-spotting both sets (of tyres). Unfortunately we didn't have any tyres to do a long run. I don't think I've ever been in that position before.

"Obviously it was not cool, it's frustrating, but at least it highlighted some areas we'll work on tonight. I wouldn't say I'm concerned, I just know that hour (of final practice today) we've really got to get into it and be super efficient."

Ricciardo is still getting used to life at Renault.
Ricciardo is still getting used to life at Renault.

Ricciardo failed to finish the first two races of the season after making the switch from Red Bull to Renault, but finally got his first points with the French outfit when he crossed the line in seventh at the Chinese Grand Prix earlier this month.

Speaking at a press conference in Baku, Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul said while it was important for his new recruit to pick up points, it was more crucial that Ricciardo continued to develop confidence in the car as he adjusted to life with a new team.

Ricciardo has spoken about the teething problems that have accompanied his arrival at Renault as he takes time to get used to how things work, but Abiteboul is confident the team now understands exactly what the Aussie wants from his car to make an impact this year.

"It's always good to score his first points, you know, and the sooner the better. But I think more important, he now has a car in which he has more confidence," Abiteboul said.

"In the first race in Melbourne we finally had the capacity to understand what he wanted. We've made changes, we prioritised the changes that he wanted to have, in particular on the systems that are related to drivers, so that he has more confidence in the car.

"Not exactly yet to the level of competitiveness that we want, but so that he can attack and wait for the upgrades to come and hopefully pay some dividends."World champion Hamilton currently leads the overall standings by six points from teammate Bottas, with Ricciardo  11th with 18 of the season's 21 races, including Sunday's round in Baku, still to run.

News Corp Australia

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