SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Daniel Ricciardo is serving a five-place grid penalty at this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix as a marshal accidentally sprayed fire extinguisher foam up the exhaust of his Red Bull after retiring in Mexico.
Ricciardo is on a rotten run of bad luck at the moment and suffered his eighth retirement of the season in Mexico City two weeks ago, 24 hours after claiming his first pole position since May. The Australian later labelled his car "cursed" and said he was ready to let his 2019 replacement Pierre Gasly drive it for the last two events of the year, comments he clarified ahead of arriving in Brazil this week with a video in Los Angeles.
On Friday it was revealed Red Bull had been forced into changing the turbocharger on his engine. As he has already gone past the number of turbos allowed in the regulation, that resulted in a grid penalty, but it has now emerged the unit was not damaged in conventional fashion.
"I got a phone call last week notifying me of what happened when we broke down in Mexico," Ricciardo said. "I think the marshals put the extinguisher straight up the exhaust and went to town on it. I'd kind of got over it that week and then I got that call and I was like 'oh well, it is what it is'."
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says the mistake was understandable given the nature of Ricciardo's retirement in Mexico and hopes it does not have too big an impact a the short Interlagos circuit.
"You can't really blame them as the car was obviously smoking but they shot foam up the exhaust and as it solidifies in the turbo it terminated it," Horner said. "He'll take a five-place penalty but hopefully on a track like this it is not actually that big of a penalty."
Ricciardo was left encouraged by the pace he was able to show on Friday, finishing FP2 in fourth position.
"The penalty doesn't help but I think the pace this afternoon was better. I think we made improvements with the car. This morning we weren't that bad but for sure we wanted to be quicker. I think we made a step forward this afternoon, I think there's a little bit left but the long-run pace seemed decent. We'll see. All three tyres don't seem that far off at the moment."