Daniel Ricciardo was already expecting a tough Italian Grand Prix weekend, but the popular Australian is set to start towards the back of the grid as Red Bull Racing contemplate introducing a new Renault power unit to his car.
The move is aimed at the following Singapore Grand Prix, which is set to be a much more competitive circuit for Red Bull, but it means pain at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza before the weekend has even begun.
Both Ricciardo and team-mate Max Verstappen are on their fourth internal combustion engines, with a fifth automatically triggering a grid penalty, and although Red Bull has yet to decide which elements will be changed, the Australian is expecting the amount of penalties to mean starting the race at the back of the field.
“It’s no secret Singapore is a circuit we’re strong on,” said Ricciardo. “I don’t want to take any risks in Singapore and risk racing with an old engine or something.
“If we have to be strategic about it, then we will. We’re not in a comfortable position now to be taking any risks with the reliability, so we’ll play it safe.”
Ricciardo believes Renault’s progress with its horsepower has had a negative effect on its reliability, with Verstappen retiring from the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend with another engine-related problem.
“I think the progress has been hindered by reliability,” said Ricciardo. “If we had better reliability we could then start to turn it up more and more. That’s slowed us down more than we would have liked.
“Obviously on top of the disappointment of the DNF is that it then kind of slows everything down for updates and development. Hopefully we have less of these issues coming up, but we’re getting later in the season now and still having it. We thought we would have cleared this earlier.”