A broken seat on Friday, failing to make Q3 on Saturday, losing the entire front wing four seconds in and retiring by lap 31 on Sunday. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for Daniel Ricciardo in Melbourne last weekend.
Ricciardo cut a forlorn figure after his retirement – the latest in a long list of failures at his home grand prix in Australia.
Since his debut at this race in 2012 with Toro Rosso, Ricciardo has now either retired or been disqualified in four of the eight Australian Grands Prix his has driven in.
But it goes beyond that, and beyond Ricciardo himself.
Since the Australian Grand Prix, then staged in Adelaide, became an official round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 1985, no Australian has ever been on the podium.
So is the demand on Australian drivers at their home grand prix simply too much? Ricciardo alluded to as much in the immediate aftermath of his latest disappointment in Melbourne.
“Flat,” he said when asked how he felt. “Flat. I felt like it’s hard to get things going well here. [I’m] just drained. Trying to please everyone this week and I don’t look after myself so we’ll change it for next year.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to blame that but I certainly didn’t… I don’t know, I feel flat for more reason that one.”
And it’s hardly surprising, given how much Ricciardo needed to do at his home grand prix, that mistakes such as missing a “gutter ditch” creep in.
By the time the 29-year-old got climbed into his car for first practice on Friday morning, he had already completed more than 25 hours of media calls and sponsor commitments – not to mention the thousands of selfies and autographs he did for his huge band of fans draped in yellow and black.
His trip down Melbourne walk every morning to get from the car park to the garage – approximately 200m long – took him four times longer than any other driver, for example.
Even this was a considerable cutback on the previous year – his final one with Red Bull – whereby the Wednesday night he had already done five open media and sponsor appearances.
A busy media schedule is of course to be expected at any driver’s home grand prix – just ask Lewis Hamilton and Silverstone or Sebastian Vettel at Hockenheim – but as the only driver who is even from the southern hemisphere, the spotlight shines far brighter on Ricciardo.
You compare this with the man who will act as his main point of comparison for this year, his Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg.
In comparison to the 25+ hours Ricciardo had completed from Tuesday to Friday morning, the German had done less than four – two of which were the mandatory F1 launch that all 20 drivers attended.
Even the media events they did together were completely different. During their dual sponsor event on Thursday evening, Ricciardo was mobbed by hundreds of fans while Hulkenberg sipped on a bottle of water in the corner, largely ignored.
In total – including the Monday sponsor commitment Ricciardo was also tied to – the Australian is estimated to have done around 32 hours of media or sponsor events, and that’s before all the extra time he needed to put in to acclimatising to a new team and a new car, which never comes easy.
So perhaps it’s no surprise given his tiredness that when he strapped in for a two-hour race at speeds of 250km/h, that his decision making went a little awry only seconds in and he became patient, even irritable.
By the time he’d faced the written media on Sunday evening, he was visibly wrecked.
He was adamant when, referring to his schedule, he said “we’ll change it for next year”, and if Australia ever wants to see him – or any other future Australian – on the podium in Melbourne, they will be wise to listen to him.