Daniel Ricciardo is on the back-foot heading into qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix, following a suspected turbo failure during the third practice session. Ricciardo's practice running ended in a plume of smoke, forcing him to pull trackside.
The Australian joined the action late on Saturday, and had only completed four laps before his Renault engine gave up. From the onboard audio, it was quickly apparent that a turbo failure was the right diagnosis, as it could be heard wheezing as the engine gave up.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the occurrence, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner confirmed that the team believe it was an issue with the turbo. With qualifying commencing just two hours after the chequered flag of free practice three, the Red Bull crew will be under pressure to make necessary changes.
"We have a suspected turbo failure," Horner said. "Whether that has damaged the combustion engine as well, time will tell. The amount of times we have changed these engines, we have plenty of practice."
Last time out in Bahrain, Ricciardo's race ended on the second lap when his car suddenly shut down. The five-time Grand Prix winner has retired from four of the last six races due to mechanical errors.
"It’s the second race in a row," Horner added. "We had an energy store [problem] last race and we’ve got this issue here before we’ve even got into qualifying and we’re on race three. Disappointed is probably an understatement."