Daniel Ricciardo’s Australian Grand Prix bid almost came to naught before it had even started, Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has revealed.
The turbocharger on the Australian’s Red Bull was not working when the car was sent out of its garage for the first time on Sunday afternoon.
The problem forced Ricciardo to bring the car back into the garage for a computer reset before going to the grid.
The #3 Red Bull then ran faultlessly throughout the race’s 57 laps, enabling Ricciardo to score a second place finish behind Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg.
“It was obviously remarkably free of any real issue (during the race, but) we had a drama as he left the garage,” Horner told assembled media post-race.
“The turbo didn’t work so we had to get the car back in to reset and basically ‘power-cycle’ the car.
“That seemed to come back to life, so there was a drama as we were going out to the grid but that fixed itself and didn’t re-appear.”
Team-mate Sebastian Vettel was not as lucky, with the four-time reigning champion retiring early after his engine dropped a cylinder.
Horner said there was “no logical reason” why Vettel’s car suffered the bulk of the issues this weekend.
The German had earlier been hampered by a software problem in qualifying.
“The settings were the same and they were both fresh engines going into the first event,” said Horner.
“It just shows how finely things are poised at the moment.”
Vettel stayed at the circuit for the majority of the race following his retirement, helping the team manage Ricciardo’s fuel consumption to the finish.
“He stuck around for the large majority of the race because he was very keen to follow Dan’s progress,” he said.
“He was helping looking at the consumption figures saying ‘maybe if he lifts a bit here, blah, blah, blah’.
“He was helping behind the scenes and obviously spent a bit of time on the pit wall as well.”
Horner was meanwhile full of praise for Ricciardo’s coolness during the race, saying that it was “as if he was in a simulator”.
“I think it should give him a great injection of confidence,” said Horner of Ricciardo.
“He has been massively impressive all weekend.
“The pressure of a home race in front of a demanding crowd, the first race on debut with a new team, he’s now been in the spotlight when you’re racing in the mid-grid like that.
“He’s been inch-perfect all weekend. What I was most impressed about was his communication from the car, how calm and relaxed he was.
“He was fighting for second place and it didn’t sound like he’d even broken into a sweat out there.
“That was very reminiscent of exactly how Sebastian is. It’s really encouraging.”