‘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: Max Verstappen provides late-lap thrills at U.S. Grand Prix

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Leave it to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to provide some late-race thrills at the U.S. Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s key block on Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton late in Sunday’s race denied Hamilton a chance to maybe chase down Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to win. And it helped deny Hamilton’s bid for the season championship.

Verstappen’s defensive skills allowed the Red Bull driver to finish second, his best result yet at the U.S Grand Prix, his fourth podium in six races. By keeping Hamilton third, it kept the season championship alive, even if just another week to the Mexican Grand Prix.

Last season, Verstappen had surged past Raikkonen on a final-lap pass to finish third. It was the kind of aggressive move that earned him the “Mad Max” nickname. Before he could even reach the podium, race officials declared Verstappen’s move illegal and bumped an angry Verstappen down to fifth.

The Circuit of the Americas this week installed a new curb on the same corner, dubbed “Verstoppen,” to punish drivers who tried anything similar this year. It worked when Verstappen hit it hard enough in qualifying to knock his car out of the session with a damaged suspension and gear box. He started Sunday’s race 18th.

The Dutch driver launched a furious attack through the field and found himself in the thick of things late Sunday. His move to block Hamilton wasn’t on the same corner with the curbs, and it came with him playing defense instead of being the aggressor.

Verstappen had to make multiple moves to keep Hamilton behind him and finally drove the Mercedes wide, forcing Hamilton to finally concede the position and the race.

“I was trying to get close to Kimi but at the same time keeping an eye on Lewis in my mirror. It was close, but we managed to hang on,” Verstappen said. “It is safe to say today went a lot better than expected.”

Knowing Verstappen’s aggressive nature, Hamilton said there was too much at stake to risk a collision.

“The key to me was to make sure I finished ahead of Seb. I don’t care when you win a championship, just that you win,” Hamilton said. “”For Max, to come back from so far, he did a great job.”

Verstappen has been just as aggressive at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

In 2016, race officials ruled he improperly left the track to gain an advantage on Vettel to finish third and he was bumped from the podium. Last season, Verstappen’s strong start sent him into the lead out of the first turn, while Hamilton and Vettel bumped each other. The collision ruptured one of Hamilton’s tires.

Verstappen won the race while Hamilton limped home in ninth place, but still won the season championship.