The Infiniti Red Bull Racing team arrived at Spa-Francorchamps expecting the weekend to be one of damage limitation, but left the circuit on Sunday with the race win. Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of the drama’s at Mercedes to take his third victory of the season, while Sebastian Vettel claimed fifth.
For the second race in a row, Ricciardo took the chequered flag first, and was forced to make his tyres last longer than he expected them to. He admitted to having some fun out there in the lead, and proved he could lead from the front and control the race.
“You know everyone was saying we didn’t really have a chance around here, but I think we had some really good pace today and surprised ourselves,” said Ricciardo. “It feels a bit surreal, but another win is very cool, very cool. It was difficult staying out at the end of the race.
“When you’re the leader as well you always feel like you’re the most vulnerable when it comes to a pit stop or not, but Simon my engineer came on the radio and said I think it’s 11 laps left, can these tyres get to the end? And I said I think I can keep more or less this pace, and we were able to, and then on the last lap I found a couple more tenths, so I was having a bit of fun then!
“There’s been a lot of good things about the win today, obviously the last two came from a more aggressive style of race, but today was more calculated and it was nice to win under different circumstances.”
Team-mate Vettel made a good start from third on the grid to slot into second ahead of Nico Rosberg, but quickly lost the place to his fellow German before a mistake allowed his team-mate through also. He admitted to enjoying the battle at the end of the race with Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button, a battle he ultimately came out on top in.
“Towards the end of the race was good, I was in a rush to get through because the laps were going down and obviously Alonso and Magnussen didn’t have fresh tyres, so Jenson and me caught them fairly quickly,” said Vettel. “In the end it was good not to lose a position compared to when we decided to pit, which was probably a little bit late, but in the end we maintained the position.
“The battle was fairly interesting, it was a bit all over the place with people pushing each other off on the track, but we race hard, although sometimes maybe a bit too hard! The team did a great job in the pit stops, three perfect stops, they felt really quick.”
Team Principal Christian Horner was delighted to see the team take their 50th win of all time, especially when they were not expecting such a good result around Spa.
“A phenomenal performance today to get our 50th win,” said Horner. “Of all the tracks to win at, Spa was one of the ones that we didn’t expect to! Daniel drove an incredible race and had good pace throughout; it got very close at the end there with Nico, but he just managed to hold on and have enough in hand to get to the chequered flag first.
“Sebastian, after a great start, was racing with Bottas, we didn’t want to get undercut so we pitted quite aggressively with him to make sure we stayed ahead of him but thereafter we seemed to struggle with pace, so whether there’s some damage with the car or not we really need to look into, but it wasn’t Sebastian’s fault today.”