Sun, Mar 26, 10:16am by Head Editor
Daniel Ricciardo’s hopes of becoming the first Australian to win a home Grand Prix took a huge hit on Saturday with the West Australian crashing out in Saturday’s third qualifying session.
You could feel the energy oozing out of the 80,000 strong crowd as the local hero ended up in the wall, sustaining damage to the rear of his Red Bull racer. He still managed to keep his trademark smile as he hitched a ride back to the pits.
The Aussie started the week as an $11 chance, but after he spun out of control and crashed into a barrier, those odds have jumped way out to $101. He’s at $6.50 for a podium finish – which would also be a first for an Aussie in a home Grand Prix.
Before the crash, the 27-year-old was ninth and fifth in the first two qualifying sessions and admitted that he pushed it a bit hard in the third session. The four-time grand prix winner will start from 10th on the grid, which is a second shy of the front running Mercedes.
His starting position means that Ricciardo will be forced to drive aggressively, which could lead to some fireworks when the light goes green at 4pm on Sunday.
The man he and the rest of the field will be chasing is Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton, who has taken pole position after clocking the fastest-ever lap of Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit in Saturday’s qualifying session, with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas the next quickest.
The Brit has shortened into $1.36 to start his 2017 campaign with a win, coming in from the $2.25 he was at on Tuesday. The record lap time of 1:22.188 marked Hamilton’s 62nd career pole – three behind Ayrton Senna and six adrift of Michael Schumacher in the all-time list.
Four-time world champion Sebastien Vettel will start next to Hamilton in second spot on the grid and has come in from $4.50 to $4. The German was pipped by just 0.2 of a second and is every chance of taking out his first Grand Prix since the Singapore in 2015.
L Hamilton $1.36
S Vettel $4
V Bottas $11
K Raikkonen $19
M Verstappen $34
D Ricciardo $101
R Grosjean $226
F Massa $276
D Kvyat $301
C Sainz Jr $301
E Ocon $501
J Palmer $501
S Perez $501
F Alonso $501
S Vandoorne $501
N Hulkenberg $501
A Giovinazzi $501
L Stroll $501
K Magnussen $501
M Ericsson $501
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