Daniel Ricciardo put a brave face on his birthday disappointment after being forced into retirement in the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix. 

The Red Bull driver had run as high as second place after a Red Bull strategy gamble to pit both drivers under a Virtual Safety Car period paid off, but Ricciardo faded as he began to struggle with blistering on his rear tyres.

That forced Ricciardo into an unscheduled two-stopper, but a strong spell on the Supersofts enabled him to jump back ahead of Lewis Hamilton into fourth when the Mercedes driver followed the same strategy route after encountering similar issues with tyre wear. 

But the Australian’s race came to a smoky conclusion with less than 20 laps remaining when an exhaust problem struck. 

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“I’m a little bit delirious right now but there’s no point being upset,” Ricciardo said. “I know what I signed up for with this sport as a kid and sometimes it does this. Things happen out of your control, it is what it is.

“I don’t want to stand here and talk about my sob story and how my birthday didn’t go well. The soft tyre fell apart which was strange, not sure why it did but I think the broken exhaust was what killed the race in the end. But for Red Bull, the team, everyone here, it’s the perfect day.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was left to rue the missed opportunity to capitalise on Mercedes’ absence and claim a big points haul, describing Ricciardo’s retirement as “gutting”.

“From my perspective I’m looking at 43 points, that’s our objective and we lost 18 today in losing fifth,” Horner told Channel 4. “First of all he picked up the blistering and then unfortunately an exhaust gas leak with an exhaust issue has cooked something around the rear of the car. 

“It was gutting because its not just the one race, it’s the championship as well. Those 18 points, on a day where both Mercedes retire, that’s points given away.”

Horner revealed Red Bull feared Verstappen’s car might develop a similar problem, prompting the team to turn down his engine until the latter stages as a preventative measure. The Dutchman went on to claim a popular victory at the team's home venue.

“We were quite concerned that there might be a similar problem with Max, so we turned his engine down to try and reduce temperatures. And then only turned it up over the last five laps just to make sure the Ferraris weren’t going to get within the DRS.”

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