Daniel Ricciardo delivered a mature and well calculated performance to win an incident packed Canadian Grand Prix, his maiden Formula 1 victory, and with it end Mercedes winning streak while etching his name among the greatest in the history of motorsport. The big smiling Australian reflected on his afternoon at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the Ile Notre Dame in Montreal.
What a race, tell us about this first win…
Daniel Ricciardo: Yeah, I’m still a bit in shock. Thanks everyone. This is ridiculous! Lots of Aussie flags, that’s nice. The race really came to life in the last 15 to 20 laps. We saw Hamilton had a problem and then we saw Rosberg was slow on the straights. I was really struggling to get past Perez. They had a pretty good car on the straights and he was holding me off well in the corners. We finally got a run out of the last chicane and made a nice move into turn and then set my sights on Nico and then a couple of laps to go just found myself in the right spot to get the DRS. It’s just an amazing feeling right now, I’m really grateful for this. Thanks everyone.
How does it feel?
DR: I’m a grand prix winner! I think it still seems a bit surreal to be honest, just because it all happened so quickly at the end. I was third for a while and then it all happened in a really exciting fashion.
We go to a new track. It’s going to be let’s say your home track, so what do you expect on this new circuit and are you happy?
DR: Yeah, very excited for the next race, it’s going to be a home race for Red Bull and if Seb and I can stand on the podium again I think it will be awesome. It’ll be great, they’ve done a lot of work there at the track. I think the facilities are going to be awesome. Yeah, it’s just a couple of weeks away and I’m sure it’s going to be a great weekend.
You started and you’ve just joined a very exclusive club of men who’ve won a Formula One grand prix. How does that feel?
DR: Yeah, really nice. It’s still a bit surreal but yeah, just realty cool. It’s not that we were leading the whole race, so it’s not that I had time to understand that I was going to win, it all happened in the last few laps, so I think that’s why it’s still taking a while to comprehend in my head. But really nice, a really good feeling. The race came to life at the end. Mercedes had their issues and it enable us to close on them. We had a good fight with Perez and we were really struggling to pass them. They had, as we know, a really strong car down the straight and it was doing a good job through the corners as well to keep me behind. But then out of the last chicane I got a really good run on him and made the move stick in turns one and two. I was close to overshooting it, dropped a couple of wheels in the grass but it was fine and then Nico in the closing stages. Really, really nice. I wasn’t sure if the two drivers on the last lap were OK, so I just wanted to make sure they were cool before we got celebrating, but I believe they’re fine so really, really happy with the result.
You mentioned the mistake that Pérez made – but you were pretty close to him, you must have been planning something. Were there points on the circuit where you felt you could have got past him, in spite of his greater top speed? And were you planning something pretty quickly after what in fact happened?
DR: To be honest I was trying the whole time I was behind him. I was looking for opportunities and, as I said, he was driving well and wasn’t making any mistakes and realistically I needed a bit of a mistake from him because they were just getting off the corner so well. But then I think, yeah, he got quite close to Nico and perhaps just overshot the braking a little bit in the last chicane. I managed to just stay with him on the exit, get the tow and use the DRS. I knew we were strong braking into Turn One, we were really quick into there so, yeah, once I had the outside line free I just basically went in and made it work. Yeah, that was the place I wanted to do it – but as I said, I was trying all the time and it was just then that the opportunity came – but I wasn’t really holding back!
Alan Jones once and he said he had to acquire a meaner attitude when he left Australia to race in Europe and in Formula One. What is it you think you’ve acquired this season that’s enabled you to achieve this victory?
DR: I think it’s confidence and the more time I spend here, the more comfortable I feel – here being Formula One – and the environment. In any sport a lot of it comes down to belief. If you truly believe in something then you tend to make it work. So, yeah, just a couple of things this year. I knew I’d have a great team behind me and I believed with that I’d be able to get some great results. It’s really nice to have the first victory. Yeah.
Were you expecting it to arrive so early at this point in the season – and also, today has been a pretty much big day for Red Bull as it’s been revealed Adrian Newey’s going to sign for the next few years, even if his involvement is going to be less present in Formula One.
DR: I think it surprised us, yes, because the pace Mercedes has had all year. As we saw they… Obviously I’m still going to take the victory, don’t get wrong but they had their issues today which allowed us to really make an attack but it’s nice that we capitalised on that. I think it would have been disappointing if they had their issues and they were able to still get the best of us. At least we capitalised when we could. It’s nice, the news with Adrian. He’s a good guy, so let’s try and keep this momentum going. We know we’ve still got some work to do but really happy for the team today, it’s really big points for us in the Constructors’ as well. Let’s enjoy the moment.
Now that Adrian Newey will continue in Red Bull, the previous time it happened you extended your contract Sebastian. Will it interfere in your future in the team? And you, Daniel, as a rising star, if it also influences your decision?
DR: I think I’m still in the very early stage of my Red Bull Racing career. I’m more than happy where I am now, so I’m more than happy where I am now and obviously it’s very good news that he stays. I’ve only just started working with Adrian. We know that the car is strong. We’ve got a few other areas we can work on but it’s good news, so… yeah… I can’t see any change happening soon!
You said earlier in the season that your first goal was to tick off your first win. You’ve done that; if you could think ahead, what becomes your next goal now from this point?
DR: I think I’ll just enjoy this for now and not look too far ahead. I think this is definitely a moment I should embrace. I’m actually supposed to fly back tonight but I don’t know if I want to spend (the night of) my first victory on a plane so I will see what happens.
What does it feel like to deliver a home town Grand Prix for your race engineer, Gavin Ward…
DR: Yeah, it’s really cool. I called him down after we did the podium celebration, I called him down underneath the podium to pour some champagne over him. Gav, my performance engineer is a fellow Canadian, so it’s really nice to give him this one here.