Hamilton claims Aussie GP pole position

Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo is furious at F1 officials after they gave him a grid penalty
Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo is furious at F1 officials after they gave him a grid penalty

24 March, 2018

The Western Australian was found by the stewards to have not slowed sufficiently for a red flag during Friday's second practice session.

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.

Daniel Ricciardo expressed his happiness with the performance shown by Aston Martin Red Bull Racing on longer runs, but said he struggled on the softer compound of tyres.

Red Bull chief Christian Horner has also had his say, and as expected, he's just as annoyed.

"I don't think they wanted to give him the penalty but they had to", he said. "They could give me a reprimand, they could give me a fine, I don't care, just don't rob me of a front-row start".

It means the pair will start Sunday's race on the red-banded compound, an aspect Ricciardo hopes will prove fruitful in assisting his recovery towards the front.

"It's hard enough for us to understand let alone explain it to the viewers and the fans".

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No home driver has ever recorded a pole position or podium finish in the 33-year history of the Australian GP, although Ricciardo did climb the rostrum in second place in 2014 only to be disqualified for a fuel flow technicality on his Red Bull vehicle.

Off contract Ricciardo is looking to impress in his eighth F1 season after postponing extension talks with Red Bull and being linked to Mercedes and Ferrari in 2019.

Hamilton qualified over 0.6s clear of the rest of the field at the season-opening qualifying session in Melbourne - the first clear indication that Mercedes has lost none of the advantage it held over its rivals for the past four years.

"I don't really know with the balance what I could have done, there's much, much more [pace] there so I'll see now but yeah, for sure it's frustrating a little bit".

Stewards said in a statement they had imposed a "lesser penalty than usual" because Daniel Ricciardo had driven with "due care" and there was "no danger".

Ricciardo was seventh fastest in the session, five places behind teammate Max Verstappen. Breach of this regulation is seen to be an extremely serious matter.

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