A new power-unit, this time the fifth one, it will be introduced at Austin (Texas) to both pilots. After the victory of Sepang, another time a problem to his flow-meter with loss of power gave just a 6th place to Ricciardo during GP of Japan. He was not only out of podium but very far away from Raikkonen who left him 5 seconds behind.
Even more, the gap from the other Red Bull, it was even bigger: Verstappen got an advantage of 35 seconds from the Australian. During the entire 53 laps, he suffered a constant lack of power (something noticed during qualifying too):
We did not have enough speed to be aggressive on straights. Quite frankly, there was nothing we could do about it
An investigation is going on in the factory but a first idea, it is about a problem with Daniels flow-meter. An important component introduced by FIA to reduce fuel consumption and control engines power on each car. If this component is not allowing the right amount of fuel to go through the engine, an inevitable reduction in the horse power is suffered.
Any malfunction on this component can produce severe consequences. So far, the maximum amount of fuel allowed by this device is around 100 kg per hour as clearly stated by rules. It looks this limit was never approached on Daniels car during the entire GP. Telemetry analysis proved he was losing time on the straight and an estimated of around 0.1 seconds was lost on every single lap. This is a big amount of time.
Another factor explaining all those troubles, it is about an aerodynamic problem. His car was touching a bit on the floor, increasing the amount of time lost each lap. Even more, his engine was reaching its end-of-life. Red Bull team boss, Christian Horner, was not disappointed because he thinks those issues will be fixed in the next race at Austin:
Yes, Daniel was a little bit down on straight line speed. We asked the engine guys to have a look at that. Perhaps, his car was touching a bit too much down so he lost too much time. I am sure there will be a lot of work to do and a careful investigation is going to be done. But both drivers will get their fifth and final engine for next race. So I am quite optimistic. I think Austin will be very important, we need to win the battle with Ferrari for second place. This position is enormously important for next years budget situation. I think in this battle, from now until the end, there will be swings and roundabouts. Hopefully after Texas, the next two tracks should not be too bad. Brazil should suit Ferrari, but Abu Dhabi is neutral and we will have a good chance to get something positive out of it
It is possible this battle will be won on the details, so it is really important to get a solution to this strange mystery related with Ricciardo and his car. In fact, Ferrari was quite effective in Japan and just another inappropriate strategy forced Vettel and Raikkonen to do not get one of the first positions.