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‘Tough end’ as Ricciardo misses point

17 November 2013

Daniel Ricciardo left the Circuit of the Americas empty-handed after losing grip of the final point late in the US Grand Prix.

The Australian started from the outside of row five and held his ground through the first third of the race but, having lost ground to Nico Rosberg, battled back into contention as he made a one-stop strategy work in his favour. Starting on the option tyre, Ricciardo finally got back into the points by lap 42, and appeared set to hold on to tenth place until his primes began to drop off in the closing stages.

With just over a lap to go, Jenson Button was all over the back of the Toro Rosso and, having had a series of looks rebuffed by the Red Bull protégé, finally made a move stick around the outside of turn one.

“It was a tough end to the day, really tough,” Ricciardo lamented, “It was very difficult to overtake in the early stages, when the cars were full of fuel, and it wasn't easy to stay with the car in front through the fast corners, so we had to be patient.

“It looked as though we were going to hang on to the flag to get the point for tenth place, but then, in the last five laps, I lost pretty much all the grip I had and saw the guys closing in on me.

“I tried to hold them off, but I didn't have enough left in the tyres to do it. It's frustrating to get that close, but I put up the best fight I could and there was nothing more I could have done today.”

Team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne started with the intention of completing a two-stop gameplan but, with the relatively durable Pirelli tyres lasting longer than expected, was switched to a similar strategy to Ricciardo. Even though he initially had to take care of the medium compound, he was allowed to push in the final stages and came close to adding to Ricciardo's misery before tangling with Esteban Gutierrez with the flag in sight.

“The final result was nothing special, but I feel I had a good race,” the Frenchman reported, “We had planned a two-stop [strategy], but switched to a single tyre change and, for the second part of the race, I was told I had to manage my options carefully.

“I was given the go-ahead to push again with 15 laps to go and, at that point, my race pace was quite good, so I feel we did a good job with the car we had. On the last lap, I tried to pass my team-mate at turn one, but it didn't work and we ran wide - I think he had used a bit of KERS on the straight, so I couldn't pass him.”

Vergne's result would alter an hour or so after the chequered flag, when he was adjudged to have been at fault for the clash with the Sauber.

“I used all my KERS on the next straight to try and outbrake [Ricciardo], but then Gutierrez clipped my rear wheel at turn twelve as he tried to pass me...,” was the Frenchman's assessment of the incident.

Team boss Franz Tost, while praising the efforts of his drivers on raceday, admitted that the result could have been different had qualifying gone better.

“It's never a pleasant feeling to lose a point in the final lap, but it was a solid performance, which would have looked much better if we had qualified further up the grid on Saturday,” he noted.

“We approached this race with an open mind regarding strategy and our original plan was to run Daniel on one stop and 'Jev' on two. However, it soon became clear that a one-stop would work for both and we moved 'Jev' to that, after he had been the only driver starting on the prime. [tyre].

“He did a good job dealing with the others around him on the option and then fought his way back up the field to P12, two places higher than he started. Overall, it was a good performance in terms of his pace and 'Jev' drove a very strong and aggressive race.

“As for Daniel, he got stuck behind [Paul] di Resta for a while, but passed him in the second part of the race and built up a nice gap. Unfortunately, in the very last few laps, his tyres were giving up and he could not fend off Button...”


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