Early tyre struggles cost Ricciardo podium chance


Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Daniel Ricciardo felt a podium finish was there for the taking in China on Sunday, but struggles with grip in the early stages of the race meant that ultimately that was not possible, with the Australian being forced to settle for fourth.

The Red Bull Racing driver made a good start to move up to fourth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, and made it up to second during virtual and full safety car periods, but was unable to keep team-mate Max Verstappen nor Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel behind him.

“I have mixed emotions, it’s obviously disappointing to miss out on the podium as it was so close today but as a team it’s a good result to finish third and fourth,” said Ricciardo. “I lost a lot of time in the first stint as I struggled to keep my front tyres alive and that pretty much put us out of a podium position.

“After the first pit stop I had good balance and speed which meant I could claw some time back and close the gap to the leaders.”

Once he made his pit stop, he found the pace better, and was able to come back towards his team-mate, but was unable to get close enough to make a move to get back ahead of Verstappen, even with him having the advantage of DRS.

“Towards the end of the race I could see that Max was struggling with his tyres but as soon as I got close to him I also began to struggle with mine,” said Ricciardo. “The team let us race but even though I was in the DRS zone I was not really close enough to pull off a convincing move. 

“I had a look but the inside lines were still quite slippery into the hairpin and I was honestly never really close enough to make a move stick. It was also quite noticeable that the DRS effect is far less on the cars this year which didn’t help.”

Despite being forced to settle for fourth, he feels third and fourth for the team should be a pleasing result, even though the gap to both the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team and Scuderia Ferrari seems to be large at this stage of the season.

“As a team we should be pleased with the result and we learnt a lot today but we still have some work to do to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari,” said Ricciardo.