BAKU (Reuters) - Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo will have a three-place grid drop at next month’s Spanish Formula One Grand Prix as punishment for what the Australian described as a moment of panic in Azerbaijan on Sunday.
Ricciardo provided the bizarre incident of the day in Baku when he reversed into Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso after trying to overtake the Russian and then going down the run-off area on lap 31.
Unaware that the Russian had also failed to negotiate turn three and had stopped right behind, Ricciardo put the undamaged Renault into reverse and crunched straight into the side of his rival’s car.
Both drivers subsequently retired and stewards blamed Ricciardo, handing him the grid drop as well as two penalty points — his first in the 12 month period.
The Australian apologized to Kvyat, a former Red Bull team mate, and accepted full responsibility.
“I obviously don’t feel good about what just happened,” he said.
“As soon as I went down the escape road I guess it was just a sense of urgency and a bit of panic, if you will. Just trying to minimize damage and lose as little time as possible.
“I found reverse and started going and to be honest I had no idea he was there. I guess the urgency stopped me from looking,” he added. “I just thought he would have cut back and stayed on track.
“Kind of crappy on my part and I certainly feel bad for the team and for Dani... I feel pretty small at the moment.”
Ricciardo has had a difficult time since he left Red Bull at the end of last season as a race winner and joined the French manufacturer.
A winner in Baku in 2017, the Australian has scored points in only one of four races this season as has team mate Nico Hulkenberg.
“It was looking quite good for us, we had started to pick up the pace and closing on Dani, I saw a gap so I thought I’d have a go,” he said.
Kvyat accepted the apology in good spirit.
“These things happen, it’s racing like I always said when I make a mistake,” said the Russian, who has been in a few high-profile collisions in his time.
“I was a bit disappointed right in the moment but now what can you do about it? There was potential for maybe a point or two today.”
Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar