Daniel Ricciardo’s run of five consecutive podium finishes came to an end in Sunday’s British Grand Prix with fifth place, and Max Verstappen’s run of five DNFs in his last seven races also came to an end with fourth place.
Their feelings after Red Bull’s first double points score since Monaco – when Ricciardo was third and Verstappen fifth – could not have been more mixed.
In Ricciardo’s case, fifth place was a minor miracle after an apparent turbo issue prevented him from getting a timed lap in qualifying. But as he had a five-spot grid penalty coming anyway for a gearbox change, Ricciardo told NBCSN he was actually happy he was already last, since he wouldn’t need to fall back any further.
Ricciardo’s race was a yo-yo from 19th on the grid. He got up to 12th in the first few laps but after a Safety Car period for contact between the Scuderia Toro Rosso teammates, Ricciardo ran off the road when trying to pass Romain Grosjean on the outside of Luffield into Woodcote. That dropped him to 18th.
But in a methodical charge forward from there, Ricciardo made it into the points before half distance with a move on Felipe Massa’s Williams from 10th. It got even better from there as he got by the pair of Sahara Force Indias on fresher tires following his quick pit stop from supersofts to softs to get to eighth, seventh once Kevin Magnussen’s Haas pitted, and then into fifth by the flag with a pass of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and then inheriting a position with Sebastian Vettel’s late race tire trouble.
Ricciardo recapped his race to NBCSN’s Will Buxton.
“That was a fun race, absolutely!” the usually happy Australian exclaimed. “The whole race was a fight. Coming through, then I made a really good restart, got two cars by Turn 4, but I went for three and that was a bit optimistic going on the outside of Grosjean. I shouldn’t have been there. It wasn’t the smartest place to put the car. Went off track, probably damaged a bit of floor. Fell to last and made it almost all back up. It was fun. Good times!
“But coming through traffic was fun. I do believe I damaged the car. I was still passing cars but not as easy as I thought or hoped. We had a fight on our hands. I caught Hulkenberg… and danke, Sebastian.”
Although this result was two spots worse than where Ricciardo has been the last five races – no worse than third – Ricciardo was still over the moon.
“I’ve been so happy with how I’ve put my Sundays together. From the back to fifth, I couldn’t ask for much more. There was no way I could do better. I’m pleased.”
Verstappen, by contrast, had a podium slip away from him in the final stages of the race. While the Dutch driver was finally able to avoid the first lap or early race disasters that have struck him so frequently this year, a podium went away from him in the final three laps with a left front puncture requiring a pit stop with just two to go.
Verstappen enjoyed a thrilling battle with Vettel earlier in the race when scrapping over third but had a slow stop from his switch from supersofts onto softs.
But as first Raikkonen, then Vettel, had left front issues, so too did Verstappen and it promoted Raikkonen back to the podium in third.
Verstappen said Red Bull didn’t have podium pace so wasn’t too disappointed with fourth.
“You have to be realistic. We weren’t fast enough for a podium on pace,” Verstappen told NBCSN. “We got lucky with Seb’s puncture, so this is OK. I finished the race as well.
“All the fast corners are to the right, so it’s quite normal it wears out the left,” he added. “We pitted early so struggled with that. There’s a bigger risk with punctures.”
The Red Bull team heads next to Hungary in two weeks after a solid points haul of 22 points between them, only the fourth time in 10 races this year Red Bull has banked more than 20 points in a race.