Daniel Ricciardo said the MGU-K failure on his Renault in F1 Bahrain was same as what forced McLaren’s Carlos Sainz to retire from Australian GP.
Sainz was the first casualty of a mechanical problem in the 2019 F1 season in Australia when his Renault MGU-K failed early in the race. The Spaniard then took on brand new parts for Bahrain as a precaution, which worked well on his car in Bahrain GP.
Even though Sainz retired from the race in Bahrain too, it seems like the cause was strategic after his early clash with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. After the customer team, it was time for the factory team to face the burn in Bahrain GP.
With three laps remaining, both Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg retired from the grand prix – literally at the same time and the same corner. The blow came at a time when they were on-course to score double points with Hulkenberg looking solid in sixth.
The cause for Ricciardo was put down as MGU-K failure which the Australian mentioned was similar to Sainz’s, while Hulkenberg’s issue was just termed as an engine issue. The Australian was also involved in a small drama when he was put under investigation.
He didn’t put the steering wheel back on the car after his DNF which meant the race had to end under safety car conditions, but the Australian clarified that the car couldn’t be touched with the red light. The stewards agreed to warrant no further action.
“I had the light on, so I couldn’t touch the car,” said Ricciardo. “I saw the red flashing light, so I didn’t want to take any risk as I didn’t really felt like getting electrocuted. I believe the issue was same as Carlos in Melbourne.
“So, because of what happened to him, there’s like a safety switch which caught that [issue and red light to be on]. A lot happened in the race before that. Initially it looked like we had competitive pace and we therefore committed to a one-stop strategy.
“As we got deeper into the first stint I could tell that the tyres were struggling a lot. In hindsight, two-stops would have been better. Towards the end, as the others were coming through, I couldn’t do too much to defend.”
Meanwhile, Hulkenberg termed the double DNF as ‘hard one to swallow’ as in his mind he already checked out sixth place finish as he never expected such a failure. “It’s definitely a hard one to swallow,” he said. “This sport can be so tough sometimes.
“It was a great ride out there with lots of battling on track to go from seventeenth to sixth, but unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to the finish line. We’ll look into what happened, but I lost power quite suddenly and that was that.
“It was a fun race with a crazy first lap which I had to survive and by then I had to keep my head down.” While the drivers showed some restraint in their comments, Renault F1 head Cyril Abiteboul said such issues were ‘unacceptable’.
The Frenchman admitted that the team couldn’t fix all the issues by Bahrain but he felt that these shouldn’t happen at this level in such a competitive environment. “After a very intense winter, it’s been a very bad start to our racing season,” he said.
“Similar to Melbourne, our qualifying in Bahrain was massively compromised by minor electronics issues, which impacted both cars. Our race today came to a sudden stop so close to the finish.
“These are issues we have previously encountered but something we were unable to rectify in Bahrain. These problems are increasingly frustrating and unacceptable as both cars have shown very good competitiveness both over one-lap and race runs.
“We must react and shift our focus on reliability.” The double DNF will come on hard on Renault as it fight against Haas for fourth – fortunately the American team did not score as well – but there is challenge from other teams, especially McLaren.