Daniel Ricciardo always felt confident of holding on to third place in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix despite a late charge from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, giving Red Bull its seconds straight double-podium in Formula 1.
Ricciardo started third at Suzuka, but slipped back to fifth on the opening lap as teammate Max Verstappen and Force India’s Esteban Ocon battled past.
Ricciardo was able to overtake Ocon with a brave move around the outside at Turn 1 before enduring quite a lonely race, only to be caught by Bottas on a reverse strategy in the closing stages.
A Virtual Safety Car helped stall Bottas’ charge, with Ricciardo then having the pace to finish a second clear at the checkered flag for Red Bull.
“Overall the race today was a thumbs up for me. At the start of the weekend I said I wanted to get a podium in Suzuka and I got it,” Ricciardo said.
“I need to look back at the start and the actual getaway as that was what cost me the place to Max and Ocon. The first 100 meters could have been better but otherwise the race was pretty lonely in third place. As fun as this track is on one lap it’s tricky to do much in the race and very hard to follow another car.
“In the end it was actually nice to have some pressure from Valtteri to keep me pushing all the way to the finish. I felt confident I could keep third place in the closing laps if I drove cleanly and hit all the apexes, which is what I did.
“It’s my ninth podium of the season which is a new record for me and to be in the position that we are now makes me pretty happy. It’s really encouraging for the team to have another double podium, both cars are getting to the finish reliably now and we are also quick.
“We should be able to put up a good fight in Austin and Mexico and if we can keep this rolling into 2018 then absolutely we should be looking pretty good.”
With Verstappen finishing second, Red Bull’s Suzuka result marked the first time it has scored back-to-back podiums in the V6 hybrid era that started in 2014.