Ricciardo was judged to have exceeded the minimum time set by the FIA's ECU while returning to the pit lane during a red flag period in Friday's second practice session. "They could give me a reprimand, they could give me a fine, I don't care, just don't rob me of a front-row start". My low fuel run got cut short by the red flag, but to be honest, after doing about nine turns on that lap I wasn't fully happy with the balance.
It is a refreshing feeling for Ricciardo, whose pride at flying the flag for Australian racing at his home track has been spiked with anxiety over his car's reliability in the past three years.
"Obviously, hard to read too much into times, but you start to get a bit of an idea and you can see Mercedes really taking off where they left off (last year)", Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said.
"I made a mistake, no doubt about it, but is that mistake worth a grid penalty in a practice session when no car's on track, no-one's upside down", he said. To give me a grid penalty before the season has started is ****house. We had quite a lot of understeer.
Ricciardo was only seventh quickest in Practice Two but was on course to set a time good enough for the top five before the same red flag intervened - while he was sixth in FP3.
Ricciardo, who did not finish in last year's Melbourne race, can not now start Sunday's race any higher than fourth on the grid.
No home driver has finished on the podium in the 33-year history of the Australian GP, although Ricciardo did climb the rostrum in second in 2014 only to be disqualified.
"The auto was ok today", said Ricciardo.
For Daniel Ricciardo, his home Australian Grand Prix has been an exasperating mix of desperately willing fans and mostly unwilling cars.
Ricciardo, along with Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, opted to complete Q2 on the Supersoft tyres, as opposed to the Ultrasoft compound preferred by their rivals.
Stewards said in a statement they had imposed a "lesser penalty than usual" because Daniel Ricciardo had driven with "due care" and there was "no danger".
"However, he admitted an error in reading his dash and was slightly below the minimum time", the decision report also said.