Ricciardo escapes injury after car hit by flying tyre
Daniel Ricciardo is to drive for the rebranded AlphaTauri, now named the Visa Cash App RB team. Photo: Getty
Daniel Ricciardo says he is thankful to be alive after narrowly avoiding being struck by a flying tyre in Sunday’s Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix.
The race in Sao Paulo was suspended after a chaotic start which saw the loose carcass hit Ricciardo’s rear wing following a collision between Alex Albon and Nico Hulkenberg.
Albon, 13th on the grid, drew alongside Hulkenberg ahead of the first corner, but the two machines made contact, sending the London-born driver into Hulkenberg’s Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen and then into the barrier.
The force of the impact tore the left-rear off Albon’s Williams, with the bouncing tyre, which weighs 13 kilograms, narrowly flying over the top of Ricciardo’s head before smashing into the back of his AlphaTauri.
Footage from Ricciardo’s cockpit shows him turning sharply to the left to avoid the airborne rubber.
“I saw a big crash in front of me and lots of debris,” Ricciardo said.
“I felt I was getting through it and then saw a tyre off the rim coming at me like a frisbee through the air and it started getting closer.
“I remember ducking my head. I didn’t feel anything hit me, so I was happy, but I checked my mirrors and saw my rear wing was pretty much off, so I assumed the tyre hit the wing, and that was frustrating. But looking back, it is nice it did not hit me.
“My immediate relief was turned into disappointment because I realised the race could be over. When you are in race mode you don’t think about it, but in hindsight I am thankful we all got out of it safe.”
The 34-year-old was able to limp back to the pits for the repairs following the fortunate escape, while both Albon and Magnussen emerged unscathed, albeit out of the race.
Hulkenberg was able to carry on before a 25-minute delay ensued as the tyre barrier on the approach to the opening bend was repaired.
The red flag allowed Ricciardo’s mechanics to fix his machine, but he was a lap down for the restart.
“The team did a great job fixing the car so we were ready to go and then I was told I would start a lap behind. All the excitement to race again gets zapped out of you,” Ricciardo added.
“Common sense should be used and we should not have been a lap down because there was not one lap of green-flag racing. It is frustrating that they ruined our day from the beginning.”
Compatriot Oscar Piastri’s car was also damaged in the crash and he returned after some repairs to cross the line in 14th, one spot behind Ricciardo.
“Sorry about that Oscar, frustrating day,” McLaren team radio told Piastri.
The Aussie replied, “Yep. it was over before it began but thank you very much to everyone who fixed the car. Was a very very impressive effort.
“(I) still learned a lot getting the laps in today.”