With the throng of Dutch fans making the quick trip to Spa to support Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, they were instead left to watch the teenager incur another retirement in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix while teammate Daniel Ricciardo again seized the opportunity at his disposal for a surprise podium finish.
Verstappen had his sixth retirement in 12 races this season in the Renault-powered, TAG Heuer-badged Red Bull just on Lap 8. He slowed on course and exited La Source, then limping up the hill through Eau Rouge before parking on the side of the track, driver’s right – game over.
“I’m very disappointed. I can’t believe it keeps happening. Six times this year. Fifty percent retirement,” Verstappen lamented to NBCSN’s Will Buxton post-race. “It’s unbelievable. I can’t believe these things happen. I’m competing against Fernando (Alonso) in terms of retirements.
Ricciardo, quite by contrast, parlayed Verstappen’s retirement and Kimi Raikkonen’s 10-second stop-and-go penalty for failing to slow down in a yellow flag zone into another podium finish himself.
Following a restart from the Safety Car period when Sahara Force India teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon clashed, Ricciardo and Raikkonen swallowed Valtteri Bottas at the end of the Kemmel Straight, in a move reminiscent of Mika Hakkinen’s famous overtake on Michael Schumacher in the 2000 race where Ricardo Zonta got swallowed wholely.
Ricciardo then pulled away from Raikkonen the rest of the race by several seconds to score the surprise podium result.
“That was huge. Max dropped out early. I know it’s full of Dutchies. Thanks for hanging around – we all do!” Ricciardo said on the podium.
“Kimi had a penalty so we got into fourth. Had good mid-race pace, then the Safety Car came at the right time. We had an opportunity and great to capitalize on it with Valtteri on the restart.”
The podium is Ricciardo’s sixth of the year, matching Verstappen’s DNF number.