Overtaking is what Ricciardo does best.
Overtaking is what Ricciardo does best.

Bizarre twist in Ricciardo rollercoaster

DANIEL Ricciardo has gone from furious to thrilled as the Aussie F1 superstar finished sixth at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix.

But that could also be replaced with uncertainty after Renault were whacked with allegations of wrongdoing by Racing Point.

With the qualifying moved to the morning of the race after Typhoon Hagibis, Ricciardo had an awful time, unable to get out of Q1 and starting from 16th on the grid alongside teammate Nico Hulkenberg in 15th.

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It was looking to be another long day for Renault but it turned out to be a good one for the team with a double points finish.

Ricciardo crossed the line in seventh but was the only driver promoted after Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was penalised 15 seconds after he hit Red Bull's Max Verstappen on the first lap and then didn't pit for three laps despite damage to his wing spreading debris across the track.

Ricciardo could be left disappointed again after Racing Point lodged a protest against Renault and an alleged "pre-set lap distance-dependent brake bias adjustment system".

Representatives from the teams met with FIA with the governing body ruling Racing Point's protest admissible with Renault's electronic control units and steering wheels for testing.

This will be decided in the near future with one F1 reporter reporting "FIA has time until Wednesday to fully investigate the matter".

Renault responded to Racing Point's claims in a Twitter statement.

But what cannot be taken from Ricciardo was his reminder of his overtaking prowess.

It didn't start that way however as Ricciardo ended qualifying alongside Sergio Perez, George Russell, Kevin Magnussen and Robert Kubica in the first round of eliminations.

With four minutes remaining Ricciardo was more than two seconds behind leader Charles Leclerc and more than 0.7 seconds outside the top 10.

His final flying lap was only enough to squeeze him into 14th and he was knocked into the drop zone by late laps from Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat.

Ricciardo's final lap was brought undone by a slow first sector and he was unable to recover.

Sky Sports expert Ted Kravitz said Renault simply didn't have a way to compete in the strong winds.

"It's just that this car doesn't have enough downforce," he said.

"They've been struggling with the head winds and it throws the balance all over the shop."

Ricciardo was fuming in his slow down lap back to the pits and gave a bristling response on team radio when asked for post-qualifying feedback.

"I'll give comments once I get back," he said.

The comments must have worked as Ricciardo brought back days of yore as he slashed through the field - working his way up as high as fifth before he pitted.

Coming back onto the track in 11th, he quickly moved back into the top 10 and Hulkenberg, who crossed the line in ninth but was awarded tenth, allowed his teammate to pass as he crossed the line behind Leclerc.

Hulkenberg was relegated to tenth after an embarrassing stuff up where the chequered flag was waved a lap early. Racing Point's Sergio Perez

Ricciardo, known as one of the F1's best overtakes, told Sky Sports it was a stunning result.

"It was fun, always when you're able to come through the field, other than winning, it's the best race you can have," Ricciardo said. "It was a lot of fun. We were out of position this morning. We found after qualifying we had a problem with the rear of the car with the suspension so it wasn't representative of the car's pace.

It was a bizarre day but ultimately Ricciardo was smiling.
It was a bizarre day but ultimately Ricciardo was smiling.

"Did I think we'd come up to seventh? No. But it was a lot of fun coming through."

He said he doesn't like to ask to pass his teammates but had the belief he could surpass Hulkenberg and continue to push up the rankings because he knew he could do it.

Under fire team principal Cyril Abiteboul admitted it had been an odd Grand Prix.

"It has certainly been a bizarre weekend, with no running on Saturday, requiring everything to be perfect from the get-go on Sunday morning," he said on the Renault website. "Unfortunately, we experienced the opposite, with both cars having different issues in qualifying.

"Despite our low starting positions, we did not surrender and kept focused. The crew did an amazing job in the limited time before the race to turn around the cars. Both drivers had clean starts for the first time in a while and after the opening laps it was non-stop action, with an amazing number of stylish overtaking manoeuvres from Daniel and Nico. We're leaving Suzuka with both cars in the points, a nice reward for the various issues we've had over the last races despite a car that had the capacity to score at every race."