Daniel Ricciardo escapes punishment as FIA issue verdict on Japan GP collision

Thomas Maher
Daniel Ricciardo, RB, and Williams' Alex Albon at Suzuka.

Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon have been summoned by the FIA stewards in Suzuka.

Daniel Ricciardo was investigated by the stewards after triggering a first-lap collision with Alex Albon in Japan.

Ricciardo found himself embroiled in a first-lap incident that resulted in a collision between himself and Williams’ Alex Albon just 30 seconds into the Japanese Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon collide

Starting from 11th on the grid, Ricciardo had a poor start and had fallen to 14th place as Albon lined up to pass the Australian through the opening corners.

Albon – who started the race on the soft tyres – managed to get much better traction out of Turn 2 to position himself on the outside of Turn 3 and pass the RB driver.

But Ricciardo, who seemed to be focused on Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll, moved over on Albon without seeming to realise the presence of the Williams, resulting in sizable contact between the pair.

The two cars spun off the track and into the barriers, where both drivers climbed out of their cars unscathed. The race was red-flagged to allow for the recovery of the cars, clean up the debris, and repair the disturbed tyre barriers.

Albon, who appeared to have been the hapless victim of the incident, got on the radio to say: “He just squeezed me. I had nowhere to go.”

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Both drivers were summoned to see the stewards in Japan, for an alleged breach of Appendix L Chapter IV Article 2 d of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which gives the stewards grounds to investigate on the grounds of “causing a collision, repetition of serious mistakes or the appearance of a lack of control over the car (such as leaving the track) will be reported to the Stewards and may entail the imposition of penalties up to and including the disqualification of any driver concerned.”

Following deliberations, they decided against taking any further action against Ricciardo and explained the logic behind finding the incident simply a first-lap mishap.

“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 3 (Daniel Ricciardo), the driver of Car 23 (Alexander Albon), team representatives and reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, external and in-car video evidence,” read the verdict.

“The explanations of both drivers were aligned as to the facts of the incident.

“On the approach to Turn 3, [Ricciardo] noticed [Lance Stroll] on his left and stated that he wanted to give that car sufficient room. He stated he then looked to the apex of Turn 3. He did not see [Albon] on his right.

“[Albon] stated that he thought he could overtake [Ricciardo] on the outside, into Turn 3, but then suddenly realised that [Ricciardo] had not seen him, applied the
brakes but could not avoid the contact with [Ricciardo].

“Accordingly, we determine this to be a first-lap incident and decide to take no further action.

“If this incident had occurred on a subsequent lap, or without the presence of [Stroll], a different determination would have been made.”

While the incident is another moment of bad luck for Ricciardo in what has been a tough start to the year, the Australian said he isn’t dwelling on the mishap.

“I think today is a singular moment, I guess in terms of… I don’t look at today and think, ‘Oh man this year, like when it rains, it pours or whatever’,” he said.

“I feel it was just one of those things.

“We know that 24 races, it’s probably likely that maybe I’m involved in another Lap One incident. It’s just probability in that. So these things kind of happen.

“It obviously sucks when they do but I don’t look at it any more than today being a kind of singular incident. Of course, would have been nice to get a race under our belt and try to show a little bit of something that I felt we were starting to show yesterday.”

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