Daniel Ricciardo is set to take a grid penalty at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix as Red Bull looks to maximise the Australian’s competitiveness at future races.
Ricciardo was a retirement from the Belgian Grand Prix after being caught up in the opening corner melee.
However, Red Bull’s decision to replace Ricciardo’s engine for Monza is not linked to the Spa incident, and instead is being done with a view to the Singapore Grand Prix next month.
“We’re trying to get ourselves on the best footing, really,” explained Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to Sky Sports.
“Daniel’s going to be taking an engine penalty for sure next weekend. Max will be taking his third unit as well, hopefully without penalty.
“We’re going to try and get ourselves into the best situation we can going into Singapore which is probably our next chance to give Ferrari and Mercedes a harder time.”
Ricciardo was left frustrated in Belgium after he was initially the innocent victim of the crash which accounted for Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso, and Charles Leclerc, before tagging Kimi Raikkonen.
“It was a chain reaction,” Ricciardo reasoned.
“I felt a hit in the back getting into Turn 1 and then I’ve then gone into Kimi on the exit.”
The Australian limped his car back to the pits where he lost a lap as the team replaced the rear wing.
“The boys did an incredible job to get that rear wing turned around,” said Horner.
“What should take 45 minutes they did in about 10. We put him back in the race and thought ‘you know what, if there’s a Safety Car, if there’s a bit of rain, you’ve got to be in it’. So we kept trying.”
“It was too much damage so we circulated, (we) tried to get the lap back but we still had quite a lot of damage on the car so it was quite tricky out there,” added Ricciardo.
“We hoped to get a Safety Car to put me back on the lead lap but that didn’t happen, so (I’ll) just walk away from Spa and look ahead to Monza and try and get something more out of it,” he concluded.
The retirement, and Verstappen’s third place, saw the Red Bull duo swap places in the drivers’ championship standings with Ricciardo now sixth in the standings on 118 points, two behind Verstappen who banked 15 points in Belgium.
The Italian Grand Prix begins on Friday with opening practice scheduled for 1900 AEST.