Daniel Ricciardo might never have been in the running for a podium finish at Monza this week, but he was still beaming with how the race had gone for him after he crossed the line in fifth place behind the two Mercedes and Ferrari cars.
“This was much of a damage limitation race for us, and in a perfect world fifth and sixth would have been that,” he said afterwards. “We got fifth and seventh, so I think still as a team we can walk away here pretty happy.
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“Obviously coming into especially the last few races we’ve finished on the podium so you always see hope now for a podium in every race but realistically we knew Ferrari was going to come into here with the edge on us, and we knew Williams and Force India would be strong so this was out objective and I got that. Just missed it yesterday but very determined to get it today.”
What really put the extra-bright smile on his face was the mid-race pass he made on Williams’ Valtteri Bottas though the first chicane, surely one of the best overtaking moves by anyone seen all season.
Ricciardo himself admitted that he was “pretty jacked up” after pulling off the move.
“I was a little way back,” he explained to Sky Sports F1. “Out of the last corner I was like, it’s on – it’s on this lap. But I knew I was a long way back so I wasn’t convinced I would pull it off but once I did I was like, cool!
“DRS open, and just head tucked!” he laughed, recalling the moment. “Have a go, why not? I didn’t want to leave Sunday night thinking if only I’d tried this or that.
“I could see he saw in the mirrors, he could see that I was there. He’s normally pretty clean, Valtteri, he’s not known to be a dirty racer or anything so I knew if he knew I was aware that I was there he wasn’t going to turn in on me.
“I think we didn’t touch as far as I know, it was clean – so good fun!” he added. “I was giggling in the car!”
Ricciardo compared Sunday’s move to his all-time favourite pass in Formula One which he made on Sebastian Vettel right here in Monza two years ago.
“This track’s been a favourite of mine for having some fun passes. Because the braking zones are so long it gives you a big opportunity so it’s good fun.”
Ricciardo added that after this weekend’s damage limitation exercise, he was looking for significantly better things to come at the next Grand Prix in Singapore which should better suit the Red Bull package.
“Let’s start with a podium and hopefully a spot on the podium that makes me look taller than the other guys,” he quipped when asked what the team’s main aim would be for the event.
“The objective is to get some points back [on Ferrari] in Singapore. If we can do that then it’ll probably go back and forth for the rest of the season but I think we’ll be able to hang on if we can maximise the high downforce circuits.
“Singapore is always one which I think is the most physical race of the year so I’m going to head back home tonight and get a good week of disciplined training in and come to Singapore prepared knowing that obviously we’ll have a good chance there as well.”
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