“I saw quite a big crash in front of me so lots of debris. I felt like I was getting through it and then I saw I think a tire off the rim kind of like frisbee through the air,” recalled the Australian.
“I started getting closer so I remember kind of also ducking my head and I didn’t feel anything hit me so I was happy but then I checked my mirrors and I saw the rear wing was pretty much off so I assumed then that the tire hit the wing.
“That was obviously frustrating. Now, like you look back at those things, it’s nice that it didn’t hit me.”
AlphaTauri had called Ricciardo into the garage to retire, but the subsequent red flag afforded the team time to repair his rear wing in the garage.
As the car had been withdrawn from the pit lane and into the garage, Ricciardo was counted as a lap down and forced to restart the race from the pit lane along with Oscar Piastri.
“All the excitement you have to race again just get completely zapped out of you,” Ricciardo bemoaned. “There was not a green flag racing lap completed, I don’t know how we start the race then a lap down so that’s really frustrating.
“It’s something kind of a bit lame in the rules. I think my argument is if 15 cars had our issue today are they going to start 15 cars in the pit lane a lap down and put five cars on the grid? Or 2 cars on the grid because three were out already or something.
“They’re not going to do that, so for me I think they can use common sense and be a bit open-minded and it’s frustrating that they obviously ruined our day from the beginning.”
Ricciardo’s frustration was justified by the pace shown by both himself and AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda during Sunday’s encounter at the Interlagos circuit.
Although Ricciardo toiled at the back, a lap down, Tsunoda demonstrated the performance of a much improved AlphaTauri on his way to a ninth-place finish.
“The bigger frustration was we were really fast,” added Ricciardo. “We couldn’t always show it because we were a lap down and trying to just sit behind Yuki and obviously help him get points but when we did have clear air I felt like the pace I showed was very strong.
“I’ll leave here tonight maybe feeling a little bit thankful [to escape unharmed], but I just wish they would let us be in the race so that one hurts a bit.”