Daniel Ricciardo led the early stages of the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday only to lose out on the race victory due to strategy, and then saw a podium opportunity disappear with a late race puncture.
After assuming the lead when Mercedes AMG PETRONAS duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton collided at turn four on the opening lap, Ricciardo held firm at the front of the pack, but his three-stop pit strategy coupled with the two from both Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen relegated him to a battle for third with Sebastian Vettel.
The Red Bull Racing driver was forced to settle for fourth, when, on the penultimate lap whilst attacking Vettel’s Scuderia Ferrari machine, he suffered a puncture, and the Australian was disappointed not to be able to join race-winning team-mate Verstappen on the podium.
“Mixed emotions today, for sure,” reflected Ricciardo. “Some of it was just bad luck today, I was leading and then went on a three-stop strategy, which meant I had to try and pass three cars on track, which isn’t easy.
“Seb had already jumped us on the pit stop, which resulted in more overtakes to get back to the front. In hindsight, a three-stop strategy was the wrong thing to do, but maybe during the race it seemed like the right thing to the team.
“I wasn’t content sitting in fourth so I tried to pass Vettel, I had a crack, but it didn’t work out. It really sucks to not even be on the podium and then the puncture at the end just rubs salt in the wound.
“It’s a big day for Max with his first race win, so congratulations to him. He got the job done, everyone questioned the decision during the week but he has proven today that he is a top class driver.
“It’s not hard for me to see Max on the podium, it’s just hard not to be there myself. Let’s move on to Monaco and hopefully we will both be on the podium next time.“