Daniel Ricciardo achieved his first podium since Monaco 2018 and his maiden with Renault DP World F1 Team, finishing third at the Eifel Grand Prix.
The Australian driver started in sixth position but was able to overtake Alexander Albon, who was sitting in fifth, into the first corner. After that he had Charles Leclerc in fourth to hunt down. After a couple of laps of being on his tail, he finally got round him in lap nine.
A lap sixteen incident involving George Russell and Kimi Räikkönen brought out the Virtual Safety Car where the front three decided to pit. Ricciardo pit under the next lap of the Virtual Safety Car but it finished while he was in pits meaning he was unable to get the undercut and found himself down in ninth, with all the other cars round him yet to pit.
On lap eighteen, Valtteri Bottas was forced to retire after a lack of power mean theoretically, after everyone in front of him pitted, he would be sitting in third. This was the case, however Sergio Pérez, who was now up to fourth, was on much newer tyres and gaining on him quick.
Lap forty-two brought out an actual safety car this time with Lando Norris grinding to a halt, also with loss of power. Majority of the field pitted for some slick softs in a battle to the end. When racing resumed on lap forty-eight, Pérez was all over the back of Ricciardo but was never able to capitalise and Ricciardo crossed the line in the final podium spot.
Ricciardo said: “Oh wow, it feels like the first time I ever got a podium. These emotions and that feeling you get when you get out the car, hug the team, the mechanics slapping you on the helmet, it’s just amazing and I am so happy we did it! It’s obviously my first one with Renault and it’s something I wanted to achieve when I set out on this journey with the team.
“It’s been two and a half years since I’ve been in this press conference too, so it’s been a while for me. I felt like it was coming with our performances in recent races, so I am so happy to have done it. The race itself was pretty tight and there was some discussion on whether to pit for a second stop or not, but we had the luxury of track position. The Safety Car then gave us an advantage, so we made that call and, in the end, it was the right one. What a day!”
“We were definitely in line for a top five finish” – Esteban Ocon
Esteban Ocon’s race was nowhere near as successful as his team-mate. He had made a strong start and was in the battle of the midfield with Pérez, Carlos Sainz Jr. and Norris. His pace was looking good on the softs and was still out on his starting wheels come lap 22.
However, that’s where it all went wrong for the young French driver. He took the escape road to head into the pits citing “I lost something” which was later confirmed to be a hydraulic issue. He unfortunately had to retire from the race.
“It’s a fantastic team result today and congratulations to Daniel and the team for the superb podium. It’s a massive result for the Constructors’ Championship – that’s the most important thing – and it also underlines the team’s progression this season,” said Ocon.
“On my side, it was looking decent to be honest and we were definitely in line for a top five finish. I did not have the best start but on the first stint, I was managing the tyre quite well and we were in a good place. I basically lost steering, brakes and gears and it’s a hydraulic issue, which we’ll investigate. It’s a shame, but we’ll come back from it and we look forward to the next race.”
“Daniel drove a great race and fully deserved this” – Cyril Abiteboul
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul will now be on the hunt for a good tattoo position. He and Ricciardo had a deal that if Ricciardo achieved a podium before he left the team at the end of the season, he would get some ink.
Talking about the podium, Abiteboul knows the team deserves this, after coming so close to being on one of the steps on multiple occasions.
Abiteboul said: “It’s a great feeling that and I would like to share this emotion we had at the track with every team member. It’s been a huge, huge journey to get here and today is a milestone. We earned that podium: we’ve seen it coming for some time. We have had the potential to be there and today we had the right circumstances.
“While we might need events in front to happen, we have a car that is a good all-rounder and when this type of opportunity comes we have the right team to capitalise. Daniel drove a great race and fully deserved this – we will have to see about that bet now! It is a bit bittersweet as only one car was at the finish line.
“Esteban was driving a solid race until his car developed a hydraulic issue and we had to retire him. Without it we could have got a huge points result, which is very important as reliability is what will eventually define the championship in Abu Dhabi. But for now we need to celebrate and enjoy this moment as it is a moment that matters in the life of the team.”