Ricciardo cleared to race

By on Sunday, October 16, 2011

Daniel Ricciardo. Photo credit: HRT

After failing to set a time in qualifying, HRT’s Daniel Ricciardo had to rely on a stewards’ dispensation so that he can take to the grid in 24th and last place for the Korean Grand Prix.

Ricciardo spent all of Q1 in the garage as his HRT team desperately tried to locate the cause of a mechanical fault on his car. Their search would prove unsuccessful and Ricciardo was unable to participate. “We’re still not sure what the problem was,” said the Australian driver after the session. “The guys are still looking into it and hopefully it won’t be too much of a late night for them – but they’re confident they’ll have it fixed in time for tomorrow.”

Having failed to set any time at all, Ricciardo was outside the 107 per cent qualifying time of the fastest man in Q1 and therefore, under the sporting regulations, he was automatically excluded from participation in the race and had to apply for a dispensation. This wasn’t necessarily straightforward, as a water leak had stopped his running in FP3 and his FP1 time in dreadful conditions was also outside the limit. Fortunately, the stewards recognised exceptional circumstances, and given that his FP2 time was comfortably representative, he was granted a reprieve.

“I assume the stewards will want an explanation but we’re not fearing anything from that, I’m sure we’ll be on the grid,” said Ricciardo before going to race control. What he can do in the race, is, however, another story. With no exposure to the circuit last year and precious little running in free practice, Ricciardo has no real experience of the track and will need to do his exploration during the race.

The prospect didn’t seem to phase him: “I’m always a pretty optimistic and positive bloke so, y’know, we’ll see how it goes. It would have been nice to do qualifying and do some laps and see where we are – but I’m not too worried about the race. I’ll try to hold onto the others and maybe learn a bit from those in front of me. If I can hang in there for the first stint, hopefully we should get stronger as the race goes on – if the setup’s in the window we need it to be in.

“Realistically, my target is just to see the chequered flag, though I want to be competitive with Tonio [team-mate Liuzzi] and the Virgins and give them a hard time.”

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