Daniel Ricciardo suffers more pain as Oscar Piastri dudded by brutal F1 decision in Imola

Ricciardo and Piastri were left to wonder what could have been.

Aussie Formula One star Daniel Ricciardo delivered his best qualifying result of the season at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix but faltered again on race day. Ricciardo started the race in a season-high ninth but again struggled with his pace throughout and dropped four places.

The Aussie got off to a poor start, which cost him position on the track and forced a change in strategy that saw him finish out of the points. He ended up 13th, three places behind his teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

Ricciardo's disappointing finish comes as reports emerged last week that Red Bull is considering cutting him and replacing him with 22-year-old Kiwi Liam Lawson after failing to fire in 2024. Ricciardo began the new season with high hopes of cracking back into Red Bull's main team, reclaiming the seat he once occupied. There were positive signs in pre-season but he has failed to replicate those performances in 2024 and once again found himself languishing near the back of the grid at Imola.

Pictured left Daniel Ricciardo and right Oscar Piastri
Daniel Ricciardo's struggles continued at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, finishing 13th, while fellow Aussie Oscar Piastri fell painfully short of his first Formula One podium finish. Image: Getty

In his team's post-race report, Ricciardo said he felt like he did everything right but once again couldn't come up trumps. "I don’t think anything went wrong with the start procedure, I felt like I did everything right, but unfortunately, losing that starting place did cost us the points in the race," he said.

"We’ll figure it out as a team, just because there's a bit of a lack of consistency there and we immediately dropped out of the points,” said Ricciardo in the team’s post-race report. Then during the race we were in a train of cars, and being there with the dirty air, it’s a weakness at the moment for us. We'll keep looking at it. I think with the clean air our pace was okay and I was doing decent times, but as soon as we got in some traffic we felt like we struggled more."

The Aussie has been consistently outperformed by Tsunoda - a man he was expected to outshine by a fair margin - in 2024 and with another poor result at Imola his days at Red Bull appear numbered. Team supremo Helmut Marko has never been scared to pull the trigger on a mid-season axing after doing so last year to Nyck De Vries after just a single fast lap in testing, handing Ricciardo his chance. And it appears that now Ricciardo is on borrowed time after another disappointing showing at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.


Meanwhile, fellow Aussie Oscar Piastri fell painfully short of his first F1 podium finish this season after a qualifying penalty proved costly. Piastri initially qualified second for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, less than a tenth of a second behind Max Verstappen, however, a blocking penalty saw him relegated to fifth on the starting grid.

In a race where overtaking was difficult, Piastri only managed to move ahead one spot as Max Verstappen scored a hard-earned victory at Imola. Red Bull's Verstappen held off Piastri's McLaren teammate Lando Norris in a dramatic end to Sunday's race, winning by just 0.725 seconds.

Oscar Piastri of McLaren, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes during the Formula 1 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy on May 19, 2024. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Oscar Piastri fell painfully short of his first Formula One podium finish this season after a qualifying penalty proved costly.

And it left Piastri wondering what could have been if he managed to get a crack at Verstappen. Piastri - who was relegated for obstructing Kevin Magnussen's Haas in qualifying - had been faster than Norris all weekend, yet his English teammate still nearly managed to win back-to-back races after securing his maiden victory in Miami the previous week.

The victory extends Verstappen's championship lead to 48 points, with Charles Leclerc his closest rival after Red Bull's Sergio Perez started 11th and finished only eighth. The grid heads to the famous Monaco Grand Prix next weekend.