Ricciardo Handed 3-Place Penalty

F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo hopes to end his Australia curse

Daniel Ricciardo has angrily criticised stewards for failing to use "common sense" in issuing him a three-place grid penalty for his home Australian GP.

The Red Bull driver was found to have failed to stay above the mandatory minimum time set by the FIA in the final two mini sectors of the lap in the second practice session.

Ricciardo has already stood on the podium at the lakeside circuit once before and soaked up the adulation from fans after crossing the line second behind Nico Rosberg in his debut race for Red Bull in 2014.

His best official finish in Melbourne is fourth in 2016.

While Hamilton has insisted his final-lap improvement was not down to a switch to a faster engine mode, Ricciardo admitted the way Mercedes was able to turn up the power for qualifying was disheartening.

"But anyway, from fifth we go to eighth".

Vettel, who pushed Hamilton hard last season and had spoken of Ferrari's improvement in the off-season, was a surprising 0.5 second behind the defending world champion. We're certainly relying on the reliability to improve, and we have made a pretty good step with that.

"I slowed down", he insisted, "I knew there was a red flag, I didn't go slow enough".

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Ricciardo will see his grid position compromised by three places for transgressing the minimum time set by the FIA's electronic control unit during the red flag period - becoming the first driver to fall foul of this rule.

"The auto was ok today", said Ricciardo.

A year ago, Ricciardo received a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change before retiring early.

Ricciardo, whose Red Bull team showed strong pace in practice and could be in the fight for the front two rows in qualifying, said he was especially frustrated by the severity of the punishment given the nature of the red flag. "You have the emerging, enormous talent of Max, and Daniel who is approaching his peak". Everyone else wants to see them get challenged a bit more.

Ricciardo was sixth fastest in Friday's opening session.

But Ricciardo is not about to be distracted.

"I think I can agree with everyone, there's other penalties they could have used", said Ricciardo on arriving at the Melbourne track this morning. "I've never seen him as angry as he was last night".

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