‘A dream victory’ for Daniel Ricciardo in Belgium

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Daniel Ricciardo has called his victory at today’s Belgian Grand Prix a “dream” after pouncing on an intra-team clash at Mercedes to claim his third win of the season.

The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most famous and popular tracks on the calendar, making any win particularly memorable. Speaking after the race today, Ricciardo made no secret of his delight after taming Spa to beat Nico Rosberg and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas to the flag.

“Yeah, I guess so,” he said when asked if winning was a dream result. “You dream of… there’s a few on the calendar that stand out more than others, and Spa is one of them.

“To be honest, any win is special in Formula 1.”

Ricciardo took the lead of the race when Rosberg pitted for repairs following his clash with teammate Lewis Hamilton, and never looked back, seeing off the German’s advances at the end.

“The first part of the race, we had pretty good pace, and I think on lap one I had the inside of Alonso in turn five, but I locked up and went off so he got me back,” Ricciardo explained. “I was 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 ten, obviously a bit of rain overnight so it was still a bit slippery.

“Nico came in for a front wing change, and we were able to get into the lead. The pace was pretty good, Red Bull are happy with what we’re doing. The consistency is there.

“It was just really up to me at the end, trying to stay consistent, and keep focus.”

Ricciardo’s stock in Formula 1 has risen considerably this season, where he has been one of the breakout stars. This result sees him draw closer to Hamilton in the drivers’ championship, with the gap now standing at 35 points with seven rounds remaining.

The result will come as something of a welcome surprise to Red Bull, who had originally said that this weekend was about “damage limitation”.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.