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Formula 1 Japanese GP

Ricciardo: Albon clash a “singular moment”, not part of tough start to F1 2024

Daniel Ricciardo feels his Japanese Grand Prix opening lap crash with Alex Albon was a “singular moment” and not part of his tough start to the 2024 Formula 1 season.

The cars of Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01 and Alex Albon, Williams FW46 in the tyre barrier after they crashed on the opening lap

The eight-time grand prix winner had been expected to lead the RB charge having returned to F1 midway through last season, but instead, he has endured a difficult season and been outperformed by team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.

Matters were compounded when he clashed with Albon at Turn 3 on the opening lap of the Suzuka race which sent both drivers into the barriers.

After giving his take on the clash, Ricciardo was eager to stress in his mind it wasn’t connected to his poor form and “just one of those things” in terms of a typical first-lap collision.

“Today is [a] singular moment. I don't look at today and think 'oh, man this year,' like... 'when it rains, it pours,' or whatever. I feel it was just one of those things,” Ricciardo said.

“We know [across] that 24 races, it's likely that maybe I'm involved in another lap one incident, there's just probability [that] 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, [it] 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. We'll do that in China. I'm actually testing on Tuesday. So the laps that I missed today - I'll get back on Tuesday.”

Ricciardo felt opting to start the race on the medium tyres, while several rivals behind him started on softs, put him on the back foot for the start and ultimately triggered events that led to the Albon crash.

“We definitely got gobbled up on that medium. It was weird because the cars in front of us look like they got off the line well, so it just looked like Yuki and I didn't have the grip that we anticipated,” he explained.

“As soon as we launched, I could see Bottas and Hulkenberg just split us and go around. And then into [Turn] 1, I was in the middle, with Yuki and an Alpine, so then by Turn 2 I thought 'alright, let's just settle' - and as soon as I got on the throttle, I was still struggling, then I think Stroll was on my outside. I was trying to hold him off.

“As I've started to come back for [Turn] 3, then Albon's there. I watched his on board [camera]. I don't even know if he wanted to be there. But his traction was so much better on the soft that he was like, 'Well, there's space,' - until there wasn't.

"I didn't see him. I always assume maybe someone is there, it's lap one, so I never tried to use the full width of the track and be completely ignorant. But there was obviously not enough room.

“All things considered, if we could wind back the clock an hour, I would start on the soft. But for the record, I wanted to be on the medium. And that's not something I fought against. But knowing what we know now the soft would have been a lot better for us.”

Watch: F1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix Review – Normal Service Resumed

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