In his latest despatch from the world of F1, Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo rues the problems that prevented him doing even better than he did in Korea.
Coming away from Korea, I’m not sure if I should be happy or sad. On one hand, we scored points for the fourth time in five races and made it three out of three on this Far Eastern leg of the calendar. On the other hand, there was a drive-shaft failure on Saturday, which meant we had to change the gearbox and that cost us at least five places and maybe a few more on the grid. Then with ten laps to go in the race I suddenly found myself in all kinds of trouble when I lost one of the front brakes.
I had been eighth, on course for my best F1 finish and maybe a chance of chasing down seventh. But instead I scraped home in ninth. Having started 21st I should be happy with that – but I’m a racing driver, we’re a greedy bunch and always want more.
I was optimistic going into the race. We had fairly long gears compared to most of the other guys on the track so I knew in that long DRS zone we’d have a good chance of making up ground. The plan from the start was to keep my nose clean, knock off the backmarkers and get into a rhythm. After a couple of laps we were up to 15th and things were looking good. We fought our way from there up to eighth, and it was a very nice day to be an F1 driver.
"I’m a racing driver, we’re a greedy bunch and always want more"
It all went wrong, though, about ten laps from home. As usual I hammered the brakes at the end of the straight and suddenly the car violently swerved to the left. Fortunately there’s an enormous run-off down there, or else that would have been the end of my afternoon. There hadn’t been any warning signs and my initial thought was that I’d had a suspension failure and was driving around on three wheels.
It was pretty confusing for the next few corners. The car was driveable but I didn’t have much in the way of brake performance and the car was veering to the left whenever I attempted to brake. Then the team told me the telemetry showed I had no braking on the front right.
The rest of the race was about management: I tried to move the balance back to the rears to take pressure off the front, but that just made the rear tyres lock. I moved it forward but they started to lock too. By the end, it felt as though I was driving on square wheels, the vibrations were that bad.
I let JEV through because there wasn’t any point in delaying the inevitable and I expected that any fight with Lewis would be short-lived because I was braking very early for the corners. It was a surprise to see him start to drop back in the mirrors. Having seen the replay it turns out I wasn’t the only one having a bad day. I’m grateful for that small gift.
"By the end, it felt as though I was driving on square wheels, the vibrations were that bad"
From the team’s point of view, it’s a really good result, to have us both score. Everyone left Korea in a very positive frame of mind. In terms of pure performance, this was our best weekend in a while, maybe our best weekend of the year.
Undoubtedly it helped when a couple of guys ahead went off on the first lap but we had good pace as the race went on and in the final stint we were getting quicker and catching a Lotus. Maybe he was backing off and maybe he wasn’t, but either way we had the pace to be in the same ballpark, which proves how much we've improved.
Hopefully there’s more of this to come in India, which is a great circuit to go to with a good car. The Far East has been really good to us and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
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