Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a chaotic Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, to clinch fifth place at the inaugural Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Team-mate Lando Norris suffered a frustrating race and finished tenth.
After not making it into Qualifying Three, Ricciardo recovered brilliantly in the race thanks to the chaos that pursued ahead. The race featured two red flags and saw one big incident involving Sergio Pérez, George Russell and Nikita Mazepin, all of which retired from the race. Ricciardo capitalised on the mayhem and launched himself up the field.
The Australian didn’t pit during the first safety car period, where the red flag was eventually flown. This elevated Ricciardo right up the front end of the order, as the majority of drivers gambled on pitting.
Ricciardo spent much of the race once it had properly restarted for longer than a lap, defending from Valtteri Bottas, the Honey Badger defended brilliantly. Eventually though Bottas’s pace was too much, leaving Ricciardo a relatively comfortable drive to the flag in fifth.
Ricciardo is happy to have kept hold of a top five finish in what he believes felt like “the longest race ever”.
“That felt like the longest race ever. The race start was so late, so it already felt like a long day, and then with all the restarts it felt even longer. The starts were good, I always made up positions until the last one where I stayed fourth.
“I used the Hard tyre for the race start, so we couldn’t really use it for the restart and were forced to go on the Medium, and I think the Hard was the better tyre. So, I couldn’t quite get Esteban [Ocon], and I tried to hold off Valtteri [Bottas] as long as I could. I was surprised how long I held him off, but I think once he let his tyres reset, it was quite hard to keep him behind. I defended him one lap, re-passed him and then he got me. I struggled a bit at the end with the tyres, so I’m happy to have held on to a top five. It certainly makes up for yesterday.”
“We deserved much more” – Lando Norris
Lando Norris was unfortunately one of the drivers who opted to pit during the first safety car period before the red flag was flown, dropping him from a strong points position to almost the foot of the field.
The British driver did manage to salvage his way back up to tenth to clinch a point but was clearly capable of so much more. It does leave the question whether drivers should be allowed to change tyres during a red flag, something which has been debated for many years now.
Norris was disappointed with his result but is glad to have at least scored a point.
“A very unlucky day. I think we deserved much more today. The team did a good job and I thought I drove a good race, but the red flag changed everything and ruined any chance of a stronger result, just by being unlucky. It was a long race after that. So, I’m disappointed. On the positive side, we scored one point again – but I feel we deserved a lot more.”