Mixed emotions for Ricciardo after run to fourth in Chinese GP

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Daniel Ricciardo was left with mixed emotions after finishing fourth in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, losing out on a podium to Red Bull Formula 1 teammate Max Verstappen late on.

Red Bull entered this weekend’s race uncertain of its chances after lagging far behind Ferrari and Mercedes in Australia, and struggled to put up much of a fight in qualifying, with Ricciardo finishing a distant fifth.

Damp conditions at the start of the race played into the RB13’s favor, with Ricciardo and Verstappen running in the top three early on, only for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to battle past both in pursuit of leader Lewis Hamilton.

Ricciardo was left chasing Verstappen, who was struggling to manage his tires late on, leading to a frantic battle between the two Red Bull drivers in the closing stages.

Verstappen put up a robust defense to keep Ricciardo back, clinching Red Bull’s 100th podium finish in the process and leaving his Australian teammate slightly disappointed.

“I have mixed emotions. It’s obviously disappointing to miss out on the podium as it was so close today but as a team it’s a good result to finish third and fourth,” Ricciardo said after the race.

“I lost a lot of time in the first stint as I struggled to keep my front tyres alive and that pretty much put us out of a podium position. After the first pit stop I had good balance and speed which meant I could claw some time back and close the gap to the leaders.

“Towards the end of the race I could see that Max was struggling with his tyres but as soon as I got close to him I also began to struggle with mine. The team let us race but even though I was in the DRS zone I was not really close enough to pull off a convincing move.

“I had a look but the inside lines were still quite slippery into the hairpin and I was honestly never really close enough to make a move stick. It was also quite noticeable that the DRS effect is far less on the cars this year which didn’t help.

“As a team we should be pleased with the result and we learnt a lot today but we still have some work to do to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari.”

F1: Valtteri Bottas urges Lewis Hamilton to clear up Mercedes future and sign

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MONACO (AP) — Valtteri Bottas is urging Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to sign a new contract, even though his own future is uncertain.

Bottas needs to convince Mercedes to give him a new deal for next year. Hamilton, meanwhile, is stalling on signing a new one even though an offer is in place. Hamilton was again asked about his contract situation on Wednesday, and maintains he’s in no hurry.

“There isn’t any sticking point. There just hasn’t been any rush,” Hamilton said. “There’s no discussion with anybody else, there’s no consideration for anybody else, it’s just (me) taking my time.”

But Bottas would like Hamilton’s future cleared up.

“For sure I would. First of all, I would like to stay here. That is my goal for the long term. It would be nice if Lewis wants to stay and finds an agreement,” Bottas said at the Mercedes motorhome. “I enjoy working with him, I enjoy the challenge he gives me. I enjoy the fact he’s four-time world champion and at the moment I’m none. It makes me try harder to be better.

“It wouldn’t change my mind that I want to stay here, but I think we work well together,” he added.

Last season was their first together. Bottas was drafted in from Williams as an emergency replacement after Nico Rosberg retired. He won three races but he stood out more as the ideal support driver as Hamilton reclaimed the F1 title.

Bottas understands Mercedes expects improvement.

“We had a chat before the season and naturally we expect performance gains compared to last year, being closer to Lewis,” Bottas said. “That’s what you need to do in the second season.”

However, Bottas says he has not been set a specific target in terms of points or where he finishes overall.

“There’s no magic number,” he said. “There’s no clause or anything, so it’s how the team feels I’m performing.”

Bottas finished third overall last year behind Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton.

He is in the same overall position – 20 points behind Vettel and 37 adrift of Hamilton – heading into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The Finnish driver would be closer if not for a dramatic finish at the Azerbaijan GP last month. With victory seemingly guaranteed, he sustained a tire puncture and ended up with no points. He bounced back with a fine drive for second place in Spain two weeks ago.

“I feel like I’ve met my performance targets. Pace-wise I’m on the level I need, but result-wise I’m not happy,” Bottas said. “It’s been strange. But I know if I keep improving very good things will come.”

He has faced a considerable amount of criticism with observers questioning whether he can compete at the top level. Yet driving under the constant pressure of having a point to prove has also made him more resilient.

“For sure it makes you tougher and better,” he said. “From each difficult weekend, I feel I’ve been able to turn it (around).”