Daniel Ricciardo admitted after the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday that he ducked his head into the cockpit at the first corner, due to all the damage which flew in the air following Alex Albon’s collision with both Haas drivers on the run into the first corner.
Starting from towards the back, Ricciardo was amongst all the carnage which unfolded, something he had a perfect view of.
The AlphaTauri driver explained after the race that he saw a tyre “frisbeeing through the air” after falling off the car, concerning him that he was going to be struck.
Ricciardo initially thought he’d escaped the first corner carnage unscathed, before noticing in his mirror that his rear wing was “pretty much off”.
“Obviously, I saw quite a big crash in front of me so there was lots of debris,” Ricciardo told Motorsport.com.
“I felt like I was getting through it and then I saw a tyre off the rim frisbeeing through the air and it started getting closer. So, I remember kind of also ducking my head and I didn’t feel anything hit me.
“I was happy. But then I checked my mirrors and I saw the rear wing was pretty much off, so I assume then the tyre hit the wing.
“That was obviously frustrating. Now you look back at those things and it’s nice that it didn’t hit me.”
As a result of the damage, AlphaTauri were preparing to retire Ricciardo’s car; however, the race was red-flagged as a result of all the debris and due to a damaged barrier.
The Faenza-based team pulled Ricciardo into the pits and set about repairing his car, something they miraculously did.
It came at a huge cost though, as he was deemed by the race director as being a lap down because his car exited the live pit-lane and pushed into the garage.
He was forced to start from the pit-lane along with Oscar Piastri, who was also placed a lap down.
This effectively ended their race, leaving them to battle with one another.
Ricciardo ended up finishing in P13 due to several retirements which was massively frustrating, although he admitted that in “hindsight” he was “thankful” to have gotten through the opening lap mayhem safely.
“It’s funny, as soon as I realised it didn’t hit me, then I looked at the wing and I was like, ‘Dammit!'” admitted the Australian.
“So, my immediate relief was turned into disappointment because I realised the race could be over.
“It’s funny, I think when you’re in that race mode, you kind of don’t even think about it.
“But now with hindsight, obviously I’m thankful that we all got out of it safe. All these things can always be worse. I’ll leave feeling certainly a little bit thankful for that.”