Melbourne, Australia - Red Bull boss Christian Horner had high praise for Daniel Ricciardo Sunday after the Australian driver hit problem after problem at the Malaysian Grand Prix and still came out smiling.
Ricciardo was disqualified from a glorious second-place finish at the season-opener in Australia and he could have been in a foul mood after a disastrous sequence of events at Sepang.
“It went from looking good to looking pretty bad in a very short time,” Ricciardo said.
“I'm really disappointed, but at the same time there's a little bit in me which is happy because I think I've come out the first two races how I wanted to, in a way.”
First Ricciardo's fuel sensor, at the centre of the Australian controversy, failed.
Then he drove off with a loose wheel after a pit stop, and had to return to the garage to have it refitted.
As he returned to the track, dropping from fourth to last, Ricciardo's front wing came loose and damaged a front tyre, meaning he had to go back to the pits.
And he then had to serve a 10-second stop-go penalty and was given a 10-place grid penalty at the next race for the unsafe pit stop. He retired before the end of the Grand Prix.
But despite his troubles, the 24-year-old still managed a smile when he hopped out of his car - earning further admiration from his new team principal.
“Daniel was fantastic today.”
“I think he absolutely proved any doubters wrong,” Horner said. “He's an absolute racer.
“Everything we've seen of Daniel has been enormously impressive and the way that he's handled adversity - today didn't go his way but he gets out of the car and he's got a smile on his face. He knows that it will come right.”
Horner said the failure of Ricciardo's fuel sensor could strengthen Red Bull's case, which is based on the technology's unreliability, when they appeal his Australian disqualification next month.
“It's not been the only issue with the sensors this weekend on our cars. I think it clearly demonstrates that there are issues with these sensors,” he said.
But he admitted he had “no idea” why Red Bull was having so many problems with the fuel sensors, an issue which has badly affected their start to the season.
“Obviously we've got a load of data to go away look at. Theoretically they shouldn't fail but we need to look at that and understand it,” said Horner.
Despite Ricciardo's problems, Red Bull could celebrate their first podium finish of the season after defending world champion Sebastian Vettel placed third, a victory for the team after severe problems in pre-season.
“It was great to get the podium, hopefully we'll keep it this time,” Horner joked darkly.