Ricciardo: We will keep fighting

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo goes from strength to strength as a Red Bull driver, winning over fans every time he races and at Spa-Francorchamps again he defied the odds to notch up a famous victory at the Formula 1’s most daunting venue to score his third win of the season (and of his career for that matter) and kept his ahead while those around him lost theirs. He spoke after the Belgian Grand Prix.

You are responsible for keeping half of Australia up until this hour!
Daniel Ricciardo: Yeah, I think obviously back home there is a huge following, but this is nearly as many Australian flag as there were in Melbourne. It’s impressive, a lot of Aussies or at least Aussie fans out this weekend, so thank you very much.

We saw you for the first time… because with the previous two wins you just happened to get in there in the last three or four laps. This time you led from the front. Different task, different pressure? What was it like?
DR: Yeah, definitely a bit different. When you lead the race, I guess, for that long it’s more about composure, just looking at your lap times, just trying to be as consistent as possible and once I heard Rosberg came in for a third stop we knew he was going to be quick at the end, I just had to try to keep the lap times up and keep it clean.

What was it like for those final couple of laps, just as you must have known that Nico was closing in on you. What was going through your head?
DR: The first thing obviously that you hope everything holds together. You hope mechanically everything gets you to the finish line. Then it’s just trying to hit your marks and keep consistent but always the last few laps the chequered flag can’t come quick enough.

Did the boy from Perth always dream of a Spa win?
DR: Yeah, I guess so. You dream of… there’s definitely a few on the calendar that stand out more than others and Spa is one of them, but to be honest any win is special in Formula One. Yeah, the first part of the race: we had pretty good pace. On lap one I actually had the inside of Alonso at five but then I locked up and went off so he got me back and then we were able to get in front a few laps later. And then Seb, looked like he just dropped a wheel on the astroturf exit of Turn 10 and obviously with the rain overnight and this morning it was still a bit slippery, so I was able to get him and then I think Nico came in for a front wing change and we were able to get into the lead and then the pace was pretty good. We were happy with what we were doing and the consistency was there and we were making the tyres last. Yeah, it was just really up to me at the end to stay consistent and stay focused. Yeah, it was good fun.

The car wasn’t supposed to be fast here but how do you see the rest of the season unfolding for you and the team?
DR: I see good things, obviously good things ahead. If we can collect maximum points around here, you know it gives us a bit more hope for the circuits that are going to come later in the season: Singapore, Suzuka, just a couple to mention. Obviously it’s great. We’re really motivated right now. It’s been a really good day for us on a track we didn’t expect to get maximum points from, so yeah, it’ll keep us smiling for a while. At the same time we’ll stay grounded. Monza we know will be tricky again but obviously the package we brought here was pretty racy, so, try and take something from here to Monza and then I think, as I said, Singapore and Suzuka will be pretty good for us.

Did Red Bull change the philosophy of the car because usually you were very bad at those circuits and now the speed on the straight was very good?
DR: Yup, we pretty much came here with a low downforce setting. We knew it would maybe affect us a bit in the second sector but we believe the car has a good base of downforce to sort of get through the second sector good enough and then what we lose naturally on the straights, running this type of wing, was something that put us back in with a fighting chance for sector one and two. Yeah, I guess on TV you could see by the images that the rear wing was pretty simple, there wasn’t much to it but obviously it was a good package here and we’ll see if the Monza wing can get any smaller – I don’t know, otherwise we’ll just run with DRS open all the time!

You’re 35 points behind Lewis now and I think about maybe 65 behind Nico. With double points at the last race, do you consider yourself firmly in the championship hunt now?
DR: If I’m within fifty coming into Abu Dhabi then yeah, but there’s still a few races to go. While it’s still mathematically possible, yeah, we’ll keep fighting. Today was a big day for that. To come and steal some points on a circuit where let’s say we weren’t supposed to is nice but I think what’s important, looking ahead, is to capitalise on the circuits that we should be strong on and if we can take maximum points, let’s say, at a couple of those then it’s never over.