Australian GP: Daniel Ricciardo slams stewards over grid penalty

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Daniel Ricciardo has angrily criticised the FIA stewards following his three-place grid penalty for the Australian Grand Prix.

That pairing could be entering the final straight as Ricciardo will become a free agent next year, raising speculation about where he will be next season given the contracts of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes and Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari are also due to expire at the end of the year.

The 28-year-old endured a nightmare 2017 event in Melbourne when he crashed in qualifying and then retired from the race before half distance with engine problems.

The Western Australian was found by the stewards to have not slowed sufficiently for a red flag during Friday's second practice session.

Ricciardo was also given two penalty points on his license.

The Red Bull driver was found to have failed to stay above the mandatory minimum time set by the FIA in the final two mini sectors of the lap in the second practice session.

"To give me a grid penalty before the season has started is ****house".

"I don't really know with the balance what I could have done much more there, so I'll see now".

Daniel Ricciardo expressed his happiness with the performance shown by Aston Martin Red Bull Racing on longer runs, but said he struggled on the softer compound of tyres.

"I thought it was unjust", Ricciardo said on his penalty.

Ricciardo has already stood on the podium at the lakeside circuit once before and soaked up the adulation from fans after crossing the line second behind Nico Rosberg in his debut race for Red Bull in 2014. "I just think common sense should have prevailed".

The penalty is a heavy blow to both Ricciardo and Red Bull, who have pushed Mercedes close in practice at Albert Park.

Horner added: "I've never seen him that angry before".

Hamilton's fastest time, a lap of one minute 23.931 seconds set midway through the 90-minute second session, was 0.127 seconds quicker than Verstappen, with Hamilton's Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas next, a further tenth of a second adrift.

Watch the F1 2018 season-opening Australian GP exclusively live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend.

Ricciardo is nevertheless positive about his chances of being in the mix on Sunday and issued a warning to drivers who get in his way.