After suffering heartbreak in Australia when he was disqualified for exceeding the fuel flow limit, Daniel Ricciardo has finally secured his first podium in Formula 1 with a brilliant third place finish today in Spain.
The Australian driver started the race in P3, but dropped behind Valtteri Bottas off the start. However, when Williams went too far into the race before pitting the Finn, Ricciardo got the advantage back and moved into third place once again. He then had quite a lonely race from then on, but eased home to finish in third ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
He came home almost 50 seconds behind the Mercedes drivers, but he knew that third was the best he could wish for today.
“They were a long way ahead,” Ricciardo said on the podium after the race. “I think coming into the race today, we knew a boring race would have been a pretty good one for us.
“We knew we didn’t really have the pace for Mercedes, and we looked like a third placed car. In the end that’s what it was.”
Ricciardo acknowledged that it was a relatively trouble-free race, and merely about managing his pace and his tires to secure a podium finish.
“We had a pretty comfortable third place, and we just had to focus on getting the tires to two stops,” he said. “Really nice to be on the podium, and I’m sure I’ll get to keep it this time.”
Ricciardo has made a superb start to his career with Red Bull, and with third place is now just six points behind esteemed teammate Sebastian Vettel. The team will now be hoping to make up some ground on Mercedes at the Monaco Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, but for Ricciardo, finally getting this monkey off his back will mean a lot.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.