Daniel Ricciardo believes that fourth place was the most that Red Bull could expect from Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix after he sustained damage to his front wing and floor early on.
Ricciardo gained a position before the start after Sebastian Vettel suffered an engine failure en route to the grid, leaving the Australian to follow Nico Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton home.
“I saw some smoke out of Seb’s car on the warmup lap, and I knew that was his race done,” Ricciardo told NBCSN after the race.
“So it put us in fifth to fourth, and we finished fourth.”
Ricciardo got tangled up in an incident at the first corner that saw him suffer damage to his front wing and floor, but he managed to continue.
“Quite a bit went on in the first lap,” Ricciardo said. “We got tangled up and damaged the front wing, A big sort of part flew off.
“But we carried on and made the most of it. Fourth was a bit lonely at times but we couldn’t expect much more.”
Ricciardo’s closest rival was Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who ran an aggressive three-stop strategy en route to finishing fifth.
Despite passing Ricciardo on track, Grosjean eventually dropped behind in the final stint as he was forced to run the soft tire as per the sporting regulations.
“I think so far we’ve had two races, having an extra set of tires, for me has made it really exciting,” Ricciardo said of Pirelli’s new tire rule for 2016.
“Things change. For the race you can go for different strategies, different variables. I saw [Grosjean] coming and was a bit surprised by pace, but I saw the strategy, I knew fourth was still on for us.”
Ricciardo sits third in the drivers’ championship after two races, trailing the runaway Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Hamilton ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.