Australia

Ricciardo’s classy response to setback

Aussie F1 star Daniel Ricciardo has lived up to his word after copping a five-second penalty in the 2020 Russian Grand Prix.

The race was won by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in a dramatic race that left Lewis Hamilton fuming after two five-second penalties in the formation lap after the driver’s championship leader did a practice start at the end of the pit lane.

There was also chaos on the first lap of the race when McLaren’s Carlos Sainz crashed into a wall on turn two, and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was knocked out by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

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The Aussie star avoided the carnage behind him and started the race in fifth and despite a strong start where he was jostling for third, he dropped back to fifth, the position he held for most of the race.

After pitting early, Ricciardo was working his way back through the field when he was stuck behind his Renault teammate Esteban Ocon and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

After several laps without success in overtaking for Ocon, the team ordered Ricciardo to take the lead — and it almost ended in disaster.

Coming up to the second corner, which had been a difficult turn all weekend and wreaked havoc throughout qualifying with several times deleted.

So much so the stewards told the grid that anyone cutting the corner and then not going through bollards on the side of the road would cop a five second penalty.

Unfortunately for Ricciardo, he locked up trying to go around Ocon and he copped a five-second penalty.

While Hamilton was raging over his penalties, Ricciardo took them in his stride.

“I‘ll just drive faster,” he said when told of the penalty. “That‘s my bad, I’ll make up for it.”

And he did, finishing fifth, 10 seconds ahead of Leclerc in sixth, negating his five second penalty.

Asked about the penalty post race, Ricciardo took the blame for the incident.

“I just locked up and it was pretty simple from my part,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports. “As I hit the brake I was like ‘oh … oh no’. My engineer came on and said I had a five second penalty, I took the blame for it and just said I’ll drive faster.”

He was praised by the Sky Sports interviewers for a “great attitude to have”.

Asked about why he didn’t try to get through the bollards, Ricciardo said he just hoped he’d held on.

“It‘s one of those ones where I think from the outside it’s easy to say ’just go through the cut through’ but I was hanging on until the very end,” he said. “And to be honest, in the car, you don’t see exactly the kerb and the end of it and visibility is not perfect.

“I knew I was likely over but I’ll try to hang onto it if I can. Obviously I didn’t but probably forced me to push a little harder at the end so made a race for myself.”

While he couldn’t put pressure on Racing Point’s Sergio Perez in fourth place, the result sees Ricciardo move to sixth on the drivers championship standings, one point behind Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, who is one point behind McLaren’s Lando Norris in fourth.

If he can get past Norris and cling on to fourth, it would be his best finish since the 2016 season when he was with Red Bull.

“I‘m happy with the outcome, there were moments of the race where I was certainly a bit upset with myself,” Ricciardo said. “There were a few errors from my part. But I didn’t let it get to me and I think that was important.

“I knew I made some mistakes but I quickly snapped out of it and recovered quite well. I’ll admit I wasn’t perfect today, that’s for sure, but I think overall I’m still happy with the result. Team did great, fifth and seventh, reliability is good, it’s a good one.”

As for the constructor standings, Renault is still in fifth but it sets up a tight midfield battle with Racing Point and McLaren as just seven points separate the teams.

While Ricciardo isn‘t sure if any upgrades are coming in the next few weeks, he is confident going forward.

“I was pretty pessimistic coming here, I wasn‘t sure how the car would be, also myself,” he said. “For us to have a strong weekend throughout, I honestly carry pretty good confidence now for the rest of the tracks this year. Obviously not getting ahead of ourselves but I think we can really make things happen and Nurburgring, I’m looking forward to going back.”

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