Daniel Ricciardo turned in a millimetre-perfect performance to win around the streets of Baku, and the unpredictable events leading to his victory are still sinking in for the Aussie.
Ricciardo had qualified a disappointing tenth after a crash in Q3 on Saturday, but thanks to several front-runners either suffering issues or committing driving errors, was able to pick his way to the front and stay there to the finish. The race is already being heralded as the most chaotic of 2017, and Ricciardo commented his wins never seem to come easy.
“What a day, it’s crazy and it’s slowly sinking in,” he remarked. “I have never really had a boring win and today was certainly not that. After all the chaos and the red flag I felt that a podium was in reach but then once Lewis had to pit and Seb had the penalty I knew the win was possible.
“I kind of said yesterday that after my qualifying mistake and starting in tenth place, today was going to be a race of no mistakes, capitalising on moments and opportunities and I felt like we did everything we could this afternoon.”
His victory comes despite a painful start, in which he was forced to pit on lap six to clear the overheating brake ducts on his Red Bull. This sent him to near the rear of the field, before recovering sixteen places on his way to the lead.
“The odds of a podium or win got pushed even further back when we had to make an unscheduled pit stop early in the race and I think I was back in seventeenth place. Then things fell in to place quite nicely and on every re-start I was able to make up positions and make it happen.”
“The last re-start was the most important and I think it was Stroll, Hulkenberg, Massa and me, all nearly four wide but I managed to get third and I think that was, in a way, the winning move. Once I saw the gap I was going to do everything I could to brake as late as possible and get that position.”
Ricciardo took time out of revelling in his own success to commiserate his team-mate Max Verstappen, who had been running strongly in the opening exchanges before an engine failure took him out of the running for a podium finish in two consecutive races.
“It was a real shame for Max today but it is great to get this victory for everyone in the team. I felt like this weekend was better for us overall and hopefully both of us can be on the podium together soon.”