Daniel Ricciardo said he was thankful to be alive after he narrowly avoided being struck by a flying tyre in Sunday’s Brazilian 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 team-mate Kevin Magnussen and then into the barrier.
"I think it was a piece of a tyre that got my rear wing" 😲
Daniel Ricciardo's team radio after that hectic start 📻 pic.twitter.com/XaR6M3uMvA
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) November 5, 2023
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,” said Ricciardo.
“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.”
red flag 🚩
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) November 5, 2023
Ricciardo, 34, 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.
Ricciardo continued: “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.
“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.”