Daniel Ricciardo has suffered what Red Bull Racing suspects to be a turbo failure during Practice 3 for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Ricciardo pulled off the circuit with smoke billowing from the rear of his Renault-powered RB14 not long after halfway through the hour-long session.
“I think we’ve got a suspected turbo failure,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told Sky Sports F1 minutes after the incident.
“That’s what the analysis is at the moment.
“Whether that’s damaged the combustion engine as well, only time will tell, but it certainly looks turbo-oriented at the moment.”
The problem comes on the same weekend that Ricciardo has had to move onto the second of his two allowed energy stores for the season after that failed on Lap 2 of the Bahrain Grand Prix a week ago.
Horner was at least confident that the West Australian would take to the track for qualifying at 1600 AEST.
“The amount of times we’ve changed these engines we’ve had plenty of practice, so the guys are pretty well versed to it,” he said.
“I feel for the guys on that side of the garage, they’ve got a bit on, but they’ll bounce back and we’ll be ready for quali.”
Despite the setback, Ricciardo was in a jocular mood moments after the completion of practice (at 1400 AEST).
“Have a Kit Kat,” he responded on Sky Sports F1 when asked what it would take for him to catch a break.
“Do you have that? In Australia it’s ‘Have a break, have a Kit Kat.’
“The boys have to take it all apart and I’d say at this stage probably just put a new engine in, so hopefully they can do that in the couple of hours we have and I can get out in qualifying.
“I’m obviously optimistic I can get out in a couple of hours but if not, then I’ll just try and roll with it for now and see what we can do.
“It’s pretty tough at the moment but it’s alright, it’s fine.”
Sebastian Vettel set the pace in Practice 3 with a 1:33.018s, 0.451s quicker than Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, both of whom were on ultrasoft tyres.