Distraught Ricciardo suffers shock brain snap
Australian F1 superstar Daniel Ricciardo's nightmare 2019 season has continued with a bizarre incident ending his race early in Azerbaijan.
The early retirement was another disappointing finish for the affable Australian, who has retired in three of his four races since moving to Renault.
While Red Bull fans may point to the engine troubles which wreaked havoc with his 2018 season, Australia and now Azerbaijan have delivered Ricciardo poor results due to driver error.
Traditionally the Baku circuit throws up plenty of thrills and spills but the start was surprisingly error free.
The 29-year-old West Australia started in 11th but quickly pushed up to ninth early in the race after a breathtaking overtake. Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Croft called it a "brilliant move" from Ricciardo, diving down the inside to push up the leaderboard.
But things didn't end well.
On the 32nd lap, Ricciardo saw an opportunity to overtake Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat coming into the third corner. The Aussie came in fast before his steering locked up as he drove onto the escape road.
Little did he know, Kvyat wasn't able to break underneath, stopping right behind him.
The Aussie star ripped his Renault into reverse, ploughing into the 25-year-old Russian and, while both could get back on the track, it ended both of their races.
The disappointing end to yet another race has seen Ricciardo claim points just once this season with a seventh-placed finish in Shanghai.
Croft pointed out a superstitious reason why the Aussie may be finding it difficult.
"I don't want to say it, but that crash helmet Daniel Ricciardo's wearing may be a bad omen for him," Croft added. "Because he hasn't seen the chequered flag in the three races he's worn it but the Jack Brabham tribute he scored points with.
"I can't remember someone getting a penalty for reversing into another car in the middle of a race but bad luck for Daniel Ricciardo again."
Stewards investigated the incident and summoned both Ricciardo and Kvyat, handing the Renault driver a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Spain on May 12 as well as adding two penalty points to his previously clean licence.
Ricciardo said he felt "pretty small" after the result with the strange incident piling more frustration on his disappointing start to the season, and he cut a forlorn figure after the race as he reflected on his mistake.
"Obviously I don't feel good what just happened," a frustrated Ricciardo said. "It was weird. I know obviously what happened but at the time it was looking quite good for us and we were starting to pick up the pace.
"I was starting to close in on Daniil, I saw a gap and I thought I'd have a go. It's always tight into (turn) three but initially I had the commitment I thought I had to be able to pull it off and then I felt I was going to start to lock and miss the corner.
"As soon as I went down the escape road, it was just a sense of urgency and a bit of panic and just trying to minimise damage and lose as little time as possible. I found reverse and started going and to be honest I had no idea he was there.
"The urgency stopped me from looking and when I went long I thought he would have cut back and stayed on track. I was just trying to minimise the mistake I made, which turned into another mistake.
"Kind of crappy on my part, I certainly feel bad for the team and for Daniil it's not cool. But I felt the team obviously deserved more than that. There were positives with the pace but not the way I wanted to end it."
It was a bad weekend for Renault with Ricciardo retiring despite being in a good position to push for points until the incident.
His teammate Nico Hulkenberg was never in the race, finishing 14th.
"All weekend we haven't been on it and that why to getting into the points would have been a fairly good recovery for us so that's why I'm obviously gutted not to pull that off," Ricciardo said. "If we finished the race I think we would have been quite upbeat about it but not much more to say right now. I feel pretty small at the moment. It was just a silly mistake but it was just a bit of panic."
Ricciardo also publicly apologised to Kvyat.
Kvyat, who turned 25 on Friday, seemed to accept the apology.
"These things happen, it's racing," he said. "It happens, that's all I can say. I was a bit disappointed right in the moment but what can we do about it."
The race ended in another 1-2 for Mercedes as Valtteri Bottas took the lead in the drivers' championship ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
The team now has four straight races with its two drivers in the top two positions on the podium.