Ricciardo & Albon’s Japan GP crash analysed – who’s fault was it really?

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

Albon Ricciardo crash Japan GP 2024

On the opening lap of the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon collided. Both drivers hit the tyre barriers hard and had to retired from the race which was red flagged for 30 minutes to repair the circuit damage.

So who’s fault was the crash? I take an in-depth look at the incident to see where the blame lies.

Start of the race

Daniel Ricciardo started the race in 11th and Albon began in 14th place. Ricciardo started on Medium compound tyres and Albon started on softs.

When the lights went out, Danny Ric’s medium tyres compromised his traction and speed off the line. By turn 1 he’d been overtaken by Bottas, Hulkenberg, Ocon and Gasly who all started behind him on the softs.

By turn 2 both Albon and Stroll, who also started on soft tyres, had caught up to the back of Ricciardo and they were all jostling for position.

The crash

The collision occurred on the entry to Turn 3 of the Suzuka circuit. The video below shows what happened.

Here’s a summary of the events which caused the crash:

  • Ricciardo got a slow exit from Turn 2
  • Stroll got a better exit from T2 and tried to draw along the left hand side (inside) of Ricciardo on the run up to Turn 3
  • Albon also got a better exit from T2 and pulled up alongside Ricciardo on the right hand side (outside) on the run up to T3
  • Ricciardo moved over to the right at the entry of Turn 3, but in doing so collided with Albon who had nowhere to go.
  • Both Albon and Ricciardo immediately lost grip, ran off the track and hit the barriers

Ricciardo's puncture

When the two drivers collided Danny Ric was immediately sent in to a high speed spin. For what appeared to be fairly light contact, this looked like a very dramatic outcome.

But what’s hard to see is that the minor contact resulted in Daniel’s right rear tyre deflating immediately, and actually coming off the wheel rim entirely.

Albon Ricciardo crash Japan GP

That meant he had no right rear grip at all. As he was beginning to turn left for the next corner he was thrown in to a dramatic high-speed spin.

Had the contact not caused a puncture I think Ricciardo would have been able to keep control and stay on the track, given how light the touch was.

Albon’s tyre remained inflated but he was forced on to the grass and couldn’t get back on the circuit in time before the track turned left and he hit the barriers.

So who's to blame?

There’s a number of factors which caused this crash. Here’s a look at them individually.

Stroll's car position

Stroll got a better exit from Turn 2 than Ricciardo, and that allowed him to place the front of his car pretty much in line with the back of Daniel’s.

Stroll was on the left of Ricciardo exiting Turn 2 and used all of the kerb to make some space for his Aston Martin.

Stroll Ricciardo crash Japan GP

Albon's car position

Like Stroll, Albon got a much better exit from Turn 2 than Ricciardo thanks to the soft tyres fitted to the Williams. Infact Albon’s exit is even better than Strolls. His traction is so much better than Ricciardo’s, he’s almost able to draw fully alongside.

Albon Ricciardo crash Japan F1

Unfortunately at that point Ricciardo starts to move over to the right, squeezes Albon to the grass and the two make contact.

Albon Ricciardo crash

Ricciardo's mirror checks

When Daniel first exits Turn 2  you can see from his helmet position that he’s looking straight ahead.

Daniel Ricciardo Japan GP 2024

A split second later you can see his head turn to the left. He’s checking his left hand mirror which shows him that Stroll’s trying to draw alongside.

Ricciardo Japan GP crash

When Ricciardo sees this, he starts to move over to the right hand side of the track for two reasons:

  1. To give some extra space to Stroll on his left hand side
  2. To regain the natural racing line for the entry to Turn 3

As it transpired, Stroll seemed to air on the side of caution. Just before the two other cars made contact you can hear him back off the throttle, signalling that he didn’t intend to lunge up the inside of Ricciardo for Turn 3. Probably because he wasn’t far enough alonside.

Stroll Japan gp

Despite that, Daniel gave him plenty of room by moving to the right. Unfortunately he doesn’t check his right hand mirror before moving across.

Even though Albon’s almost alongside, he’s not quite far enough up for Daniel to notice him in his peripheral vision. So Ricciardo keeps moving over to the right and eventually makes contact with Albon.

Is Daniel at fault?

As the image below from Kevin Magnussen’s car shows, Ricciardo was in a really tight spot.

Stroll Ricciardo Albon Japanese Grand Prix

He had Stroll to his left and Albon to his right. He did the right thing by checking his mirror and trying to make some space for Stroll’s Aston.

I can’t blame Daniel for not checking his mirror before he moved to the right. He was occupied with making space for Lance and preparing for Turn 3, and in all honestly he (and most other drivers) would not expect to have a car on the right hand side of them at that point of the track.

Daniel even said in an interview afterwards that he “didn’t see Alex”.

So no, I don’t think we can put any blame on the Honey Badger for this one. Unfortunately his team’s choice to start him on the medium compound tyres meant that he was thrust in to the thick of battle at the start of the race, and he just got unlucky.

Is Albon to blame?

Albon took a risk placing his car on the outside of Ricciardo’s at that point of the circuit. But when you look at his onboard, it looked like a reasonable risk to take.

As he exits Turn 2 Ricciardo is fully over to the left hand side of the circuit. That means that in front of Albon is a huge gap that’s almost the full width of the track.

Albon Ricciardo Japan F1 2024

If you’re a racing driver and you get a better exit then you’re going to go for that gap.

What Albon won’t be able to see is Lance Stroll on the left hand side of Danny. Albon does have visibility of Lance half way around Turn 2, but at the exit he loses sight of him. As Ricciardo is completely on the left-hand edge of the circuit Albon would assume that Stroll couldn’t be on the left of Ricciardo.

As we saw earlier Lance used all of the kerb to make room for his Aston and squeeze himself alongside, and that’s what prompted Ricciardo to move over in to Albon.

The verdict

Ricciardo is not to blame for this one. Albon took a risk putting his car on the outside, but in my opinion it’s a risk that pretty much every driver would have taken.

So this one has to be a racing incident. Wrong place wrong time for Albon, and super bad luck for Ricciardo.

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Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

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Bruce

In our world, lap 1 accidents are racing incidents. But I don’t agree with your assessment of Ric. If you’re going to get 3 wide, 90% of the time it would be lap 1. As for Ric not expecting Alex on his left, as soon as the tire blankets came off Ric would of been told that he was surrounded by soft tires and known he was about to be swamped. Because of that, I can’t believe he wasn’t aware of his righthand mirror. Noone likes to be a sitting duck, but…..
If he doesn’t check the mirror he’s wrong, especially in lap 1.
Albon shares no blame. All 4 tires were on the track when he was right beside Ric.
Had Ric looked, he then had room on left, a car on right.
Now if carbvisa Rb was negligent and did not tell Ric the tire situation but I can’t believe that.

Thanks for writing f1 stuff to talk about

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