Daniel Ricciardo was left satisfied with his performance at the Japanese Grand Prix, although the Red Bull Racing driver conceded that a stronger start could have offered further returns.
Ricciardo finished third behind team-mate Max Verstappen, dropping behind the Dutchman after an inauspicious opening set of corners – where he also lost out to Sahara Force India F1 Team’s Esteban Ocon.
The Australian managed to regroup to match his pre-weekend target of a podium at Suzuka, although felt that more could have been possible with a better opening lap.
“At the start of the weekend I said I wanted to get a podium in Suzuka – and I got it,” said Ricciardo.
“I can’t go back on what I said and wish for more, but I need to look back at the start and the actual getaway as that was what cost me the place to Max and Ocon.
“The first 100 metres could have been better, but otherwise the race was pretty lonely in third place.”
With little to do in the race, Ricciardo admitted that he enjoyed the challenge from Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s Valtteri Bottas, whom he credits with staying motivated throughout the race.
“In the end it was actually nice to have some pressure from Valtteri to keep me pushing all the way to the finish,” admitted Ricciardo.
“I felt confident I could keep third place in the closing laps if I drove cleanly and hit all the apexes, which is what I did.”
“I’m happy to spray some more champagne, it’s my ninth podium of the season which is a new record for me and to be in the position that we are now makes me pretty happy.”
Looking ahead, Ricciardo believes that a strong end to the season should bode well for next year, should Red Bull be able to keep its run of form going.
“It’s really encouraging for the team to have another double podium, both cars are getting to the finish reliably now and we are also quick.
“We should be able to put up a good fight in Austin and Mexico and, if we can keep this rolling into 2018, then absolutely we should be looking pretty good.”