Ricciardo, Albon crash prompts red flag at start of Japanese GP

SUZUKA, Japan -- A clumsy collision between Daniel Ricciardo and Alex Albon on the opening lap of the Japanese Grand Prix prompted it to be suspended for 30 minutes.

Ricciardo had drifted wide on the approach to the Esses section of the Suzuka section and into the path of Albon's Williams, prompting contact which sent both into the barrier.

Both drivers were unhurt.

"He just squeezed me, there was nowhere to go," Albon said on the team radio.

The race was red-flagged, which signals every driver must immediately return to the pits, while the wreckage of both cars was cleared and while the crash barrier was repaired.

The incident will be reviewed by the FIA's race stewards.

The crash occurred for a driver and a team who could not afford one -- Ricciardo's sluggish start to the season has ramped up pressure on him to deliver results at Red Bull's second team, while Albon's Williams team will not have a spare chassis until the Miami Grand Prix at the start of May.

Ricciardo told Sky Sports after the incident: "We, Yuki and myself, struggled a lot in the medium at the start. All the cars on softs around us just ate us up. I struggled a lot, I could see an Aston Martin, I guess it was [Lance] Stroll outside.

"I was trying to kind of hold him off. And then I saw Alex is on board. He just got so much better drive out of turn two and then got onto my right side.

"To be honest, at that point, I didn't see Alex and just everyone kind of got bottled up. Not the way, obviously, you want Sunday to go."

With the Chinese Grand Prix still to come in two weeks time it remains to be seen whether the incident will leave Williams racing with one car again, as the team did in Melbourne.

Before that, championship leader Max Verstappen had led away cleanly at the front on a circuit he is looking to return to winning ways, after seeing Carlos Sainz and Ferrari win the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago.