Daniel Ricciardo receives grid penalty for red flag infringement in Australian GP practice

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Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo received a three-place grid penalty at his home Formula One race for driving too fast under red flag conditions during practice in Melbourne on Friday.

The Red Bull driver was found to have failed to stay above the mandatory minimum time set by the FIA in the final two mini sectors of the lap in the second practice session.

As a result, Ricciardo was handed a three-place grid penalty and two penalty points.

Stewards said the penalty was lessened as Ricciardo had slowed to a degree, and no ‘danger was created’.

“The stewards reviewed the data and video and found that Ricciardo did in fact fail to stay above the minimum time set by the FIA ECU in the penultimate and final mini marshalling sectors,” read the report.

“The stewards also found that Ricciardo slowed by as much as 175km/h from his fast times at Turn 12 and was consistently and significantly slower in the final three turns, indicating that he was fully complying with the requirements of the International Sporting Code.

“However, he admitted an error in reading his dash and was slightly below the minimum time.”

Ricciardo, who did not finish in last year’s Melbourne race, cannot now start Sunday’s race any higher than sixth place.

No home driver has finished on the podium in the 33-year history of the Australian GP, although Ricciardo did climb the rostrum in second place in 2014 only to be disqualified for a fuel flow technicality on his Red Bull car.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Psychology not part of F1 wonderkid Max Verstappen's make-up

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Max Verstappen says his remarkable success in a short pace of time on the Formula One circuit is not down to being stronger mentally than others, but simply because he enjoys driving fast.

The Red Bull pilot – who aged 18 became the youngest driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix in 2016 in Spain – is gearing up for the curtain-raising race of the season, the Australian GP in Melbourne this weekend.

Verstappen – who added two further victories to his tally in last year’s championship to sweeten the frustrations of seven retirements – told The Guardian he never pauses to consider how strong he is feeling mentally.

“I never even think of the mental side of things because I never had any issues,” said Verstappen, who is now 20.

“If you are a bit weak in your head maybe you can train your mind but it will never be your strong point.

“Many people ask: ‘What do you need mentally to succeed in F1?’ I say: ‘What do you mean mentally?’ I just enjoy it and drive as fast I can.

“But so many people think your psychology is such a massive thing. For me, it’s not necessary.”

Verstappen, whose father Jos also competed in Formula One, had an incredible record in karting racing of 68 wins in his first 70 races. He says that early success shaped his enormous self-belief.

Red Bull Racing RB14

“You always have to believe in yourself and I had that from karting,” said Verstappen.

“I was never one of those kids saying: ‘Is it all going to be all right?’ If you start doubting yourself like that, thinking: ‘Am I good enough?’ – maybe there is a reason you’re thinking that.”

Verstappen, who finished sixth in last year’s championship with 168 points, says he is pleased with what he has seen of this year’s car and even dares to hope it is better than the one which saw him finish last season with two victories in the last six races.

“I hope it will be better than that,” said Verstappen.

“I’m very happy with the progress but we have to wait until Melbourne to see where we are.”

As for whether he will one day be crowned world champion, he is more circumspect.

“I always think if I have the right car, the fastest car, then I can become world champion,” said Verstappen.

“But you need to have that car and so far I haven’t had the fastest package.”

Provided by AFP Sport

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Martin Sonka vows to give his best for opening race of Red Bull Air Race in Abu Dhabi

Denzil Pinto 31/01/2018
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Last year’s Abu Dhabi Red Bull Air Race winner Martin Sonka admits he doesn’t mind if he can’t replicate his win on Saturday as long as he gives 100 per cent effort.

Sonka could not have asked for a better start to the 2017 campaign when the Czech stormed to victory at the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

That was one of two triumphs as well as two podium finishes. Yet, he missed out on the title to Yoshihide Muroya by four points in the standings.

Sonka will be one of 13 pilots who will be going at top speed of 370kmph on Friday and Saturday and whether he repeat his success or not, he has vowed to give nothing but the best.

“What I expect is hopefully to give my maximum effort and be happy with my performance,” he said. “That’s what I want to do. I don’t want to predict anything on the results because it’s a new season and everyone is coming in with new modifications. Each pilot has had their own preparation whether that’s flying or mentally. The season opener will be a good point to see where all the teams are and what to expect for the rest of the season. We will try our best to give a good result.”

Sonka will be making his sixth appearance in the UAE capital and believes the Abu Dhabi race continues to go from strength to strength.

“The sport is growing so much and it’s becoming more professional and definitely a big success here,” he said.

“What stays the same is the beauty of Abu Dhabi and after the winter break, to come here from Czech Republic where it’s cold and fly in the beautiful Corniche Bay is truly amazing.

“The very special thing about Abu Dhabi is that it’s the first race of the season so there are always expectations and good platform to build on for the season ahead.”

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