Daniel Ricciardo says excessive fuel saving triggered a “downward spiral” that wrecked his hope of points at Formula 1’s Qatar Grand Prix.
Ricciardo started only 14th at Losail after being eliminated from Q2 in qualifying and finished down in 12th place, half a minute outside of the top 10.
Ricciardo suggested a higher position would have been within reach had he not been forced into fuel saving in the early stages.
“After the start we had fuel saving from super early in the race,” said Ricciardo. “I started doing what I thought was already a lot, and it was not enough.
“So [race engineer] Tom said you need to do more, you need to do more, it is not enough. To a point where at times we were losing two seconds a lap by fuel saving.
“With that the brakes get cold, the tyres get cold, and you lose grip as well. It is just kind of a downward spiral.
“We were fuel saving for a good half of the race, and that took us way out. And then Tom said no more fuel saving. Maximum push. It is clearly a system error.”
Ricciardo added that he was “so confused” as it is “the most I’ve had to save and the earliest race that I ever had to save”, quipping that “I think you guys [the media] could have driven at a similar pace when I was fuel saving.
“I was coasting into every corner. And it was never enough. I don’t know what happened to the system or if they got another reading, and then Tom said no more just push.”
Ricciardo also conceded he erred at the start of the race, losing positions, after failing to judge the right braking point for Turn 1.
“What I remember is that the actual launch was not bad,” he said. “But there was Charles [Leclerc] and [Lance] Stroll and I was kind of in the middle. I basically could not see Turn 1.
“When you’re towards the back it is quite hard to see that far through the pack, so then you look for the braking markers just to get a reference on when to brake. I just could not see them, so I stayed in it for as long as I thought, and then I lifted… I ultimately lifted way too early. A lot of people on the outside had a clear run. I was not in a great position.”