Daniel Ricciardo has salvaged a points finish in Portugal after a horror qualifying had the Aussie way back on the grid.
Starting in 16th after he was a shock elimination in Q1, Ricciardo made up ground in the opening laps at Portimao, moving up to 11th just seven laps into the race, taking advantage of a safety car after Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen inexplicably ran into the back of his teammate Antonio Giovinazzi on the first lap.
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But after some jockeying for positions, Ricciardo ultimately finished ninth, fighting his way into the points after what had been a disappointing weekend.
Although a long way back from Portuguese Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton, it was a necessary result for Ricciardo who had to push his way through the field.
After Saturday’s qualifying, Ricciardo called his position “grim” and said it was “pretty dark” to be so far back following some solid performances in practice.
Daniel Ricciardo had a brutal day at the office on Saturday but bounced back in the race.Source:FOX SPORTS
‘It breaks you’: Ricciardo reflects
After the race Ricciardo said he tried to get his mind off the qualifying debacle before the main event, but it was clear the pain hadn’t entirely dissipated.
“It was a better race — well, better than yesterday. It was hard to do worse than yesterday so everything I planned to happen in the race or execute, I was more or less able to do,” he said, as early risks and bold overtaking moves paid dividends after lights out.
“I certainly still woke up frustrated this morning, you’ve got to clear it from your mind. Obviously what’s done is done.
“It’s hard to shake (off). Obviously you just believe in yourself and when you know what you’re capable of and you don’t execute, it breaks you.
“We get 20-something chances a year, it’s actually not that much, so when you don’t get it right, even waiting seven days (for the next race), it’s a long time to live with it.”
Even though his final finishing place wasn’t where he was aiming for at the start of the weekend, it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
“As a driver, you know inside you when you’re driving with confidence and if it’s kind of flowing,” Ricciardo said. “And Friday (practice) did feel like that. Definitely more so than previous.
“I think today there were moments of speed and moments of not quite there but I think I took a lot from this week’s race.”
Aussie’s crisis laid bare
While he was trying to remain upbeat, 2016 F1 World Champion Nico Rosberg said Ricciardo is facing a crisis.
“Daniel is smiling there but believe me, within him, it’s one of the most difficult moments he has ever faced in his career,” Rosberg said. “We’re coming off Imola where he was lacking pace and his team told him, ‘You’re too slow’, in other words, please let Lando pass. That’s a really hard moment.
“And then coming here and he’s one second off Lando in qualifying, finishing 16th.”
Rosberg added that Ricciardo was “one of the most talented drivers out there, so one has to assume that it’s a matter of time that he’s going to get into it and dial into the car”.
But he added “mentally, it’s still hard to get out of a deep hole”.
A 4.8 second pit stop doesn’t help.Source:Getty Images
McLaren boss Zak Brown added that qualifying mistakes had snowballed on Ricciardo and revealed he told the star he has time to get used to his new team, who he joined after leaving Renault at the end of last season.
“Me and Andreas (Seidl, team principal) went to see him, and were just like, ‘Hey man, you’ve won seven grands prix, you’re awesome, you’ve got to get used to the car’,” Brown said. “Don’t be a hero in round one and just build up to it and he’ll get there. He’s in a good spot.”
While Ricciardo didn’t go wild in the race, he quickly moved up, gaining three places on the first lap before Raikkonen’s crash. The Honey Badger then made up another two places on the restart.
It would be easy to think Ricciardo could be on the way out in Formula One despite the calls for patience, as teammate Lando Norris finished fifth and moved 21 points ahead of the Aussie with a third straight head-to-head race win.
Norris is currently third in the drivers’ championship and the key to McLaren being third in the constructors’ standings.
At least the smile is still there.Source:Getty Images
Ricciardo’s Portuguese Grand Prix at a glance
Lap 1: Daniel Ricciardo moves from 16th to 13th on the first lap, taking advantage of a smash from Kimi Raikkonen, where he ran into his own teammate.
Lap 7: The restart was great for Ricciardo, allowing him to move up to 11th on the restart.
Lap 18: Overtook Sebastian Vettel for 10th as he went over the starting grid, with the commentators saying they believed Ricciardo could get to seventh.
Lap 22: The pits began and Ricciardo pushed up into the top five, where he sat for a long time until he pitted.
Lap 42: Daniel Ricciardo finally pits having sat in fifth for a long time, but a 4.8 second pit stop saw him come out nearly 2.5 second behind Pierre Gasly.
Lap 49: Up into ninth for Daniel Ricciardo, passing Pierre Gasly with a beautiful move.
Lap 51: Back into 10th as Fernando Alonso flew by on his new tyres.
Lap 58: Fernando Alonso passes Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz into eighth. While not Ricciardo related, the Ferrari’s tyres are fading quickly, giving Ricciardo a shot at a ninth placed finish.
Lap 65: Ricciardo passes Carlos Sainz for ninth.
It turned out to be a decent day at the office for Daniel Ricciardo.Source:Getty Images
Portuguese Grand Prix Results
1st: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2nd: Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
3rd: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
4th: Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
5th: Lando Norris (McLaren)
6th: – Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
7th: Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
8th: Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
9th:Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
10th: Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
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