Daniel Ricciardo was pleased to play a part in Red Bull’s first double-podium finish of the 2017 Formula 1 season on Sunday in Malaysia, clinching third place after fending off Sebastian Vettel late on.
As Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen swept to the team’s second win of the season, Ricciardo enjoyed a rather lonely race before being hounded by Vettel with 10 laps to go, the Ferrari driver having started last.
Ricciardo was able to keep Vettel at bay with a hard-but-fair defensive move before pulling clear as his rival’s tires began to give way, causing him to drop back quickly.
“I saw Seb was coming, I closed the door a bit later towards the apex. I don’t know how it looked from the outside,” Ricciardo said.
“I don’t know if he was unhappy about it or whatever but it didn’t seem over aggressive from my side, it didn’t feel like I did a real late move or anything.
“From there I expected him to keep coming, keep coming and then I guess maybe kill the tires trying to chase me and then getting close to me.”
After starting the season well off the pace of the front-runners and lucking into a win in Baku, Ricciardo was glad to see Red Bull charge to its best result of the year in Malaysia.
“This double podium is a very positive result for us today,” Ricciardo said. “Obviously Max got the big one and drove well so congrats to him for the win, he drove strong all weekend.
“There were a few extra bits available for the cars here and I think we’re going to try that again in Suzuka. It looks positive for us at the high downforce circuits.”
Car No.: 20
Best Finish: P7 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 14th
Kevin Magnussen’s move to Haas proved to be a win-win situation for both parties through 2017 as they banished the struggles of the previous Formula 1 season.
For Magnussen, the move came after a difficult one-season stint with Renault who despite offering him a way back into F1 after a year on the sidelines were unable to produce a car allowing the Dane to fight far up the order.
Haas had not expected to be able to be that much further ahead, but Magnussen nevertheless immediately offered an uplift in performance after replacing Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to score a single point through 2016.
Magnussen picked up Haas’ first points of the season with a solid drive in China, and was able to capitalize on the bonkers Baku race to take P7, which would ultimately be his best result of the season.
Consistency was a real issue for Haas throughout the year as it continued to have teething problems most new teams encounter, and while Magnussen was more able to drive around the problems than teammate Romain Grosjean, he lacked the ultimate pace of his teammate.
That said, Magnussen’s season highlight came in Mexico, a track Haas expected to be its worst of the season. The ex-McLaren driver qualified on the last row but produced a stunning display to finish eighth, soaking up pressure from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton late on.
The signs are positive moving forward. Next year should be Haas’ best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations, presenting a good opportunity for Magnussen to prove his star quality.
Season High: Taking P8 in Mexico when Haas expected to be slowest.
Season Low: Lagging home P15 at Spa as Grosjean hit the points.