Daniel Ricciardo claims his disqualification from his home grand prix will never detract from the sensation of standing on the podium for the first time in his F1 career in front of his own fans.
Ricciardo claimed the runner-up spot in the season-opening race in Australia on Sunday, only to be excluded from the classification over five hours later as his Red Bull infringed the new fuel rules. Red Bull formally confirmed yesterday their intention to appeal in the hope Ricciardo will be reinstated to second place, behind winner Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes. A hearing will now go before the FIA's Court of Appeal, at a date yet to be determined.
For Ricciardo, despite describing his disqualification as "a downer on what had been a brilliant day", the experience of being cheered by the Australian fans will never be forgotten. "Second was always going to be the best I could hope for and I was really happy to deliver that," said Ricciardo. "Crossing the line and having the crowd all jump up on their feet and applaud, that was pretty special. It's different to how you imagine it.
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"With [Australia's 1980 world champion] Alan Jones doing the podium interview it all felt very surreal, a bit far-fetched actually - genuinely an unbelievable moment - and something I won't forget in a hurry."
But upon hearing the news he had been disqualified, Ricciardo added: "It's not how I imagined celebrating after my first F1 podium. I still went out to catch up with a couple of mates, but it's fair to say the mood wasn't as wild as it might have been."
As to the positives, the 24-year-old said: "I did a good job in the car and I got to stand on the Australian Grand Prix podium, and no-one's taking away the sensation of doing that.
"What happens next is outside of my control, but honestly, I'd rather it went down like this than have retired from the race with a mechanical problem. I'll take a podium and a subsequent disqualification over that any day of the week."
Ricciardo's car was discovered, according to the FIA, to have "consistently exceeded" the new fuel-flow rate of no more than 100kg per hour. Pending the outcome of the appeal, the race result, with McLaren drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button promoted to second and third, remains provisional.