‘Strange’ Daniel Ricciardo radio message in Japan raises concerns

'Strange' Daniel Ricciardo radio message in Japan raises concerns

A ‘strange’ radio message from Visa Cash App RB to Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix on Saturday left the driver furious.

Daniel Ricciardo’s engineer sent a post-Q2 radio message to the driver that left him a little furious and those listening pretty perplexed after RB teammate Yuki Tsunoda guaranteed his elimination.

Pressure has continued mounting on Ricciardo going into the Japanese Grand Prix following a lackluster start to the 2024 F1 season. However, he was still unable to overcome teammate and hometown hero Tsunoda at Suzuka despite qualifying being a significant improvement.

Tsunoda had a different strategy as he finished Q2 with a push into the top 10. This eliminated Ricciardo from contention with just 0.055s separating the RB duo although the Aussie was still hoping to make his first Q3 appearance since the Mexican Grand Prix last year.

Pierre Hamelin, Ricciardo’s race engineer and a squad Faenza veteran who joined the squad in 2014, delivered the news to the driver via team radio in a manner that sounded sarcastic.

“Alright Daniel, I know you always need to do a little bit better, but you should be pleased. We’re in a good place,” said Hamelin.

Ricciardo replied: “Yeah I’m obviously not, but I appreciate we’ve done well.”

Hamelin closed with: “Yeah, let’s focus on the positive.”

The message might have been incorrectly translated, according to BBC Radio 5 Live pundit Harry Benjamin, but former W Series racer Alice Powell felt it was an odd complement.

“I would say that’s a strange compliment, isn’t it?” Powell reacted.

However, BBC’s F1 reporter Andrew Benson felt Hamelin had only good intentions with the radio message—as Benjamin had suggested—but noticed the way it was delivered would irritate Ricciardo.

“I think the engineer means well,” Benson suggested. “It’s not what the racing driver wants to hear, ‘You’ve been beaten by your team-mate but you should be pleased, because before you were really rubbish’.”

Powell confirmed that is how she would have interpreted that message if she was in Ricciardo’s position. She replied to Benson: “Yeah, that’s what I was getting at, that’s how I would have heard it as well, that’s how I have heard it.”

This season marks Hamelin’s 14th season as an F1 engineer, and it also marks his first full campaign with Ricciardo as the two started working closely after Ricciardo took Nyck de Vries’ seat at AlphaTauri in the second half of last season.

Ricciardo is hoping to maintain his modest edge in the lead-up to Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix race before his request for a new RB chassis is fulfilled and arrives in China. However, Ricciardo’s troubles have not been the reason for this action as the squad made it clear that he should be able harness the full potential of the VCARB01.

“For me the chassis is a big lump of carbon that we attach the suspension to, attach an engine to, and a gearbox to,” RB sporting director Alan Permane said. “It’s really ever so unlikely that there are performance issues with the chassis.

“However, we have a new one coming through, it makes sense at all levels to give that to Daniel, not least that Yuki is super happy and super comfortable where he is.

“We don’t have a preference on drivers. With Daniel maybe it’s good for him to just put that completely to bed, that there any issues with the car. I don’t see it as being a performance differentiator and certainly not something we want to be hopping drivers in and out of. It’s a happy accident we had one coming.

“We’re not bringing a chassis because of his issues, let’s be clear about that. It all fits together. There’s no reason Daniel can’t drive the car like it is, in its quickest form, that’s clear and I’m pretty sure he understands that.”

Leave a Reply