/Ricciardos Australian GP preparation hindered by seatbelt malfunction around the gentleman area

Ricciardos Australian GP preparation hindered by seatbelt malfunction around the gentleman area


March 16, 2019 09:56:25

The trademark smile has returned for Daniel Ricciardo after seeing the funny side of a frustrating Renault debut at the Australian Grand Prix that included a bizarre seatbelt malfunction.

The Australian Formula 1 star could not be strapped into the cockpit properly ahead of Friday’s second practice session, costing him precious time before recovering to clock the eighth-fastest lap.

“I don’t know what went on because the [seat] belts … the measurements weren’t adding up,” he said.

“But I haven’t got fat. I know that’s what you were about to ask me. I’ve been too busy to be eating.

“It was a bit of a time delay. I could tell everyone was getting a bit frustrated but it was good to finally get some laps in.”

Alarm bells were ringing when team engineers could be seen taking a hammer to Ricciardo’s seat in the garage in a desperate bid to get the belt to fit.

Renault development driver Jack Aitken revealed in eye-watering detail to TV reporters where the belt refused to co-operate with Ricciardo.

“Yeah, something around the gentleman area,” he told Sky Sports, prompting giggles from commentators.

“They might have had to make some adjustments.”

The setback followed a discouraging opening practice session where Ricciardo finished fourth-last in the 20-strong field.

Ricciardo suffered in the opening session as he was reduced to being the team guinea pig, testing different set-ups after teammate Nico Hulkenberg sat idle in the garage with an electrical drama.

Hulkenberg recovered to finish 10th fastest in the first practice and seventh in the second.

The always cheery Ricciardo not surprisingly kept a positive attitude toward Saturday’s qualifying.

“You never know — we could be quicker than we think,” he said.

Australian Grand Prix organisers were not complaining despite the ex-Red Bull star’s underwhelming start with his new team.

Ricciardo is clearly still a huge draw card despite his Renault defection, helping attract 84,500 fans — the highest Friday crowd in the Melbourne event’s history.

It is 10,000 more than last year’s Friday crowd.