Renault F1 Team bounced back in the Japanese Grand Prix after a disappointing qualifying session earlier in the morning.
Daniel Ricciardo was knocked out of Q1 for only the second time this year, lining up sixteenth on the grid. The Australian started on the medium compound tyres and had ran as high as fifth before making his only pit stop on Lap Twenty-Nine to switch to the softs.
He re-joined in eleventh before moves on Sergio Pérez, his team-mate Nico Hülkenberg, Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly helped him to finish seventh on the road before being promoted up a place to sixth following Charles Leclerc‘s time penalty.
Ricciardo shared his enjoyment of carving his way through the field on his final stint.
“The team deserved this result today. We’ve been on a bit of a frustrating run recently without scoring, so to take seventh today is excellent,” Ricciardo jubilantly said.
“We had an issue in qualifying with the rear of the car that the boys fixed, which explained why we were quite far down. We had good pace in the race and were coming through quite nicely.
“Starting on the Medium tyre worked to our advantage and we came through the pack with some enjoyable battles. It was nice to execute a good strategy, we pulled through and, in the end, it was a deserved and quite comfortable seventh place.”
Ricciardo moves clear of those in the battle for ninth in the Drivers’ Championship, with him seven points clear of Hülkenberg, Pérez and Lando Norris, who are tied on points with each other.
Nico Hülkenberg had a race to remember as well. The German made a sensational start from fifteenth following a hydraulic problem in Q2, jumping up five places by the end of the first lap.
The German opted for a one-stop strategy and spent the last thirty-three laps on the medium tyres, hence not being able to challenge for a higher position than tenth at the chequered flag.
Hülkenberg was “pleased” with the efforts from his team to see both him and Ricciardo in the points on Sunday.
“I’m very happy for the team today, with both Daniel and I inside the points,” Hülkenberg added.
“We fought all the way, pushed really hard and everything seemed to come together. It was an amazing recovery from this morning where our qualifying wasn’t so good. Personally, I made a great start off the line, passed a few cars at turn one and then pushed on with good track position.
“From there, it was a fight. The whole second stint we were in traffic and by the end, it was getting hot and tasty out there with everyone’s tyres going off. It was really good fun and I’m pleased with today.”
Renault’s result in Japan has furthered their gap to Toro Rosso Honda in the fight for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship to eighteen points with four races remaining.
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul praised his team on an “amazing job in the limited time before the race” to change the cars to the correct set-ups after a poor qualifying.
“It has certainly been a bizarre weekend, with no running on Saturday, requiring everything to be perfect from the get-go on Sunday morning,” Abiteboul quoted.
“Unfortunately, we experienced the opposite, with both cars having different issues in qualifying. Despite our low starting positions, we did not surrender and kept focused. The crew did an amazing job in the limited time before the race to turn around the cars.
“Both drivers had clean starts for the first time in a while and after the opening laps it was non-stop action, with an amazing number of stylish overtaking manoeuvres from Daniel and Nico. Nico also accepted to play the team game, which played out nicely for the team, so big thanks to him.
“We’re leaving Suzuka with both cars in the points, a nice reward for the various issues we’ve had over the last races despite a car that had the capacity to score at every race.”