In an interview with ESPN F1 today, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo says his early puncture at the Chinese GP “hurts a lot” because he is sure it cost him a place on the podium.
Ricciardo got a great start off the line in Shanghai and beat the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg into Turn 1. He led the two laps but soon ran over debris from the first-corner chaos and suffered a spectacular rear left tyre failure on the long backstraight, though he was able to bring his Red Bull home to the pits.
The Australian turned in a brilliant drive to finish fourth, behind teammate Daniil Kvyat, but he has stated in his interview with ESPN F1 today, that he is convinced he would have been celebrating on the podium were it not for the early blowout. Ricciardo said the following:-
‘Part of me hurts a lot right now. I think we should be standing second on the podium but it didn’t’ happen. The positives are the pace was really good, I think I recovered and the team recovered with me — we drove an amazing race, a perfect race. Just a shame we don’t get some champagne.’
Even though the puncture was very unlucky for Ricciardo, there is no doubt that this acted on him failing to capitalise on his starting position on the grid for the race today. But he put in a great drive and he should be proud of what he achieved today.
When asked further what happened, Ricciardo added the following:-
‘Not sure why, no. There was a bit of debris on the first lap and when we came around lap two I saw some debris on the track. Obviously I tried to avoid it, so I don’t know if it was anything like that — it just came very, very suddenly.
‘I did the start I needed and around Turn 11, Turn 12, I felt already something was wrong. I came on the radio and said the tyres were finished. A couple of seconds later the tyre burst and that’s where we lost the lead but also had to pit, then the safety car put us even further back.’
From what Ricciardo has stated today, there is no way he could have avoided the debris or predicted that would end up on the track and he did the best that he could do when he saw it on the track and just had to deal with the situation when it arose and regain back ground after dealing the issue.
Despite his frustration, Ricciardo admits in the latter stages of his interview that he is “immensely proud” of the drive he turned in after his puncture. Ricciardo stated the following:-
‘The puncture was unlucky, and then the safety car put us even further back. So we restarted 17th, so to get through Hamilton and the Williams at the end, and the pace we had, I’m definitely proud.
‘I am immensely proud of the way I recovered and the way the team got me back on track. We did the best we could. We closed it up. I could see Danny down the back straight in the last few laps. I know I could not catch him. Of course for the team it is awesome to finish third and fourth. We should be second, that is a fact, but that is racing. It is unlucky, but it sucks, it really does.’
Ricciardo for me sums it up best; he couldn’t have done anything more in that race. He tried to avoid the debris, he was unlucky to have picked up that puncture but he dealt with the issue and drove his heart out to get some points today; even though he did deserve more than that for his efforts.
But total respect to Daniel for congratulating his team mate on what he achieved today in the race and Ricciardo knows that the team are capable of achieving results like that this season; even if many fans doubted their ability to do so especially after the Renault engine saga last season.
All Ricciardo, Kvyat and Red Bull can do is analyse the data from today, use it as a foundation on which to build upon for the rest of the season and see what happens for the rest of the season. Because there is no doubting that if Ricciardo gets into a position like that again, he will be up for the fight and will give it everything he has got as well. That has never been questioned.