‘Crazy’ race ruins Ricciardo’s ‘insane’ start
Renault's Daniel Ricciardo finished sixth in a dramatic Italian Grand Prix, avoiding the disaster that struck most of the top drivers but failing to take advantage like some others.
The Aussie enjoys racing at Monza and was hopeful of his first podium in the yellow and black after a fourth-placed finish at Spa the previous race, but it was far from smooth sailing despite Ricciardo ultimately moving up one place after qualifying seventh.
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Ricciardo started the race brilliantly, overtaking Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull's Max Verstappen on the first lap.
But a safety car saw nearly every driver pit, Ricciardo re-emerged just behind Bottas and he was unable to launch another attack on the Finn.
There was drama aplenty in Italy as Verstappen retired, Lewis Hamilton climbed through the field after a 10-second drive through penalty, Charles Leclerc suffered a horror crash and Pierre Gasly shocked the grid with a stunning victory at Monza.
It was Gasly's first career victory, while McLaren's Carlos Sainz came second, followed by Racing Point youngster Lance Stroll in third as the F1 pecking was flipped on its head.
Ricciardo was quick to praise Gasly for his incredible performance.
"Congrats to Pierre, I was just saying while the circumstances were in his favour today with the restarts and red flags it's not easy," Ricciardo said. "You've built up all this adrenaline, you try to cool yourself and then you get kind of jacked up again.
"Mentally it's really hard. It's fun, don't get me wrong, I like it, but I think for him to maintain that for his first win around a track that's an overtake-able circuit, congrats to him, he deserves it."
Ricciardo called the race "crazy" and was happy to accept sixth, as teammates Esteban Ocon finished eighth.
"Sixth isn't bad for us today, I felt I couldn't have done anymore in the situation," he said.
"We weren't the only ones, but the safety car and red flag did not go our way today. After a good start and good pace, the timing wasn't on our side, but that's something we can't change.
"The first thing was the engineer told me was that Charles (Leclerc) was OK (after his crash) because he was pretty deep in the barrier. So I didn't want to complain too much.
"He said he was OK and then I started showing a bit of frustration but it's racing man, these are the circumstances and I think we recovered well and this is how we move forward.
"I honestly did the best race I could and sixth is what it was today."
Former world champion Jenson Button was in awe of Ricciardo's opening-lap overtake of Bottas, calling it "insane", but the West Australian was dudded when, after Leclerc's crash, the race was restarted from the grid.
Button said he'd "never seen that before" and Ricciardo was forced to restart in 10th in bizarre circumstances.
"It obviously feels unfair going backwards but I actually liked that more than the rolling start," he said. "Because you've got a bit more chance to do more on a standing start so I like it.
"Obviously the first start was good so I had confidence going into the second one but also I was like, 'I've already done a good one'. Turn one here is so chaotic so it can go either way.
"Look, we did well, we held on and I think both of them were good for us.
"I'm convinced there will be another race like this this year, another chaotic one, and we'll get the better end of it."
While Ricciardo was impressed with his own effort, he'll also like what he saw from the two McLarens. The 31-year-old is joining the team next year to link up with Lando Norris, who finished two spots behind Sainz in fourth.
It was McLaren's best result of the season and bodes well for what Ricciardo can hope for in 2021.
"Hats off to them, they did a great job today," Ricciardo said. "I think Carlos and Lando were running second and third already before the restart."
Originally published as 'Crazy' race ruins Ricciardo's 'insane' start