Daniel Ricciardo fluffed his lines at the start of the Monaco Grand Prix, but the Red Bull driver kept his cool and drove another impressive race to finish third, ending his race challenging hard for second place and clearly the quickest driver in the closing stages of Formula 1’s most prestigious event. He spoke afterwards;
Daniel, tell us a little bit about your race. You were in third for a while, then the pit stops, tell us a little about your strategy. Daniel Ricciardo: Firstly, it’s really nice to be up here on the podium in Monaco. The start was not great, I dropped back to fifth actually. A bit of frustration but then we saw Vettel had a problem, so we were able to get fourth and then we saw that Raikkonen had a puncture [behind] one of the Safety Cars. So we sort of inherited third after a poor start…
You got very close to Lewis. You were right on his gearbox at the end? DR: At the end we really closed in. I believe he had an issue. We tried to put some pressure on but in the end third was the best we could do.
Your first Monaco podium. Can you describe your feelings about that and looking back across Qualifying and the race is there any way you could have got a better result than the one you got today. DR: To describe the feeling, it’s really nice to be up here. Could we have done better? I don’t know. I felt yesterday that we left a little bit of lap time on there. Where that would have jumped on the grid, who knows. After that, the race itself – the start was not good, not what I wanted. I actually dropped back to fifth and then Seb had his problems, still not sure what, but pretty evident that he had problems when he slowed on the straight. Then Raikkonen I saw got a puncture under the safety car, so I got third and then pretty much was just trying to maintain the gap behind me to Alonso. Then when I thought there was enough or the right amount of laps left before the end to push and not really save tyres anymore, I did and went for it. We got close to at least one of the Mercedes at the end but you know what it’s like around here, it’s quite hard to pass. Tried to put a bit of pressure on but third was the best we could do but not a bad day.
From what we have seen today from Red Bull, are you going to have the pace to challenge Mercedes in Montreal in two weeks? DR: I think, yeah, we closed up a bit here in Monaco which we knew would be our best chance up until now. This circuit definitely suits our package a bit better than previous circuits – we still didn’t finish in front so, unfortunately, it’s still not where we want to be. Montreal is still a street circuit but unfortunately the straights go on a little bit longer there so we’re still down a little bit in that area, which I think that everyone’s aware of and we’ve made progress. Whether it will be enough by then, honestly, probably not but we are closing the gap so, that’s all we can ask for, for now, and just keep chipping away at it and be patient. I’m sure a bit of perseverance as well and we’ll get there.
For sure as a driver you must trust in yourself but in any moment did you believe you could beat Vettel in the way this season you are beating him in Qualifying and the race? DR: I didn’t really have any visions exactly on how it would go, what the race results would be or what the qualifying score would be – but I knew that I have some talent and obviously [I’ve] got a bit of experience now in Formula One. So, every year, even every six month period I feel I’m still growing and getting better as a driver as well so, I knew coming into the season with the team behind me and sort of a new opportunity, that I would be able to challenge Seb. Did I think it would be going, let’s say, as well as it was now? I don’t know. But I knew if I had everything underneath me I’d be capable of getting the results. So, fortunately the team saw that as well, back in September, I think, last year. So, it’s coming good.
You said yesterday that there was a little bit left on the table in terms of Qualifying. Do you think that there was a little bit left on the table still in the race, and was there was there any point – you got pretty close to Lewis at the end there – when you were going to go for it and then maybe not – don’t want to risk it? What was the thinking in those last few laps? DR: Everyone was trying to do a one stop today; it’s a bit of a weird one, you don’t really push much of the race because, especially after the first pit stop, we still had a long way to go, so you’re in two minds: do I push or do I just try and hold the guy off and get to the end. By the time we’d got 15/20 laps to go I knew the tyres were going to last so then I could actually start my race, so to speak, and then start to set some quicker times. We caught Lewis, the team said I was going to catch him, the pace was good so I knew I was eventually going to get on to him. Knowing it’s hard to pass around here, I wasn’t…I don’t know. I was just waiting to see what happened but I wasn’t just going to settle for third. Obviously in the end I did but if there was a clean move to be taken then yeah, I would have taken it.
The race has just finished; I was wondering what racing gives you, is it freedom of expression, a way to express yourself, adrenalin? DR: I get…honestly, freedom is definitely one thing. I remember when I first hopped in a go-kart as a kid, just being in control and not having anyone else in your space and then going at speed was a sense of freedom definitely. It’s nice as well, particularly with everything that happens around F1, all the media and everything else – when you hop in the car, it’s just you and the car and occasionally you have an engineer on the radio but it’s just you so definitely a sense of freedom along with a wicked adrenalin.