28 July 2014
Hungarian F1 Grand Prix: Ricciardo ‘riding crest of a confidence wave’
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes that Hungarian GP race winner Daniel Ricciardo is benefiting from a blend of ability and good fortune as he wins F1 races.
Daniel Ricciardo doesn't believe in making life easy for himself when it comes to taking F1 wins, reprising his come-from-behind success in Canada to claim a second victory of 2014 in Hungary at the weekend.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was once again full of praise for the young Australian, who maintains his position as the only driver other than Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton to have triumphed this season, claiming that he did everything right in a race that could easily have caught him and the team on the hop.
“It was an incredible performance,” Horner enthused, recounting the difficult start on intermediate tyres and the appearance of the safety car to cover the recovery of Marcus Ericsson's crashed Caterham.
“We called both the boys to 'box, box, box', but Seb [Vettel], being a bit further up the road, was halfway around the last turn, and Daniel, being a bit further back, managed to make the pit-lane. The first 4-5 cars didn't make it into the pit-lane, and the group behind, the ones that did, were then in the pound seats.
“Jenson [Button] obviously stayed on inters - which were the right tyre for half a lap at the restart - and then Daniel was able to get into an aggressive strategy, and I think the bit that really made it work for him was his penultimate stint, when he was able to go so long on the option [tyre]. We were looking at [Felipe] Massa and thinking he might be able to go to the end and were trying to get a pit window to him.
"Then it was a question of saying 'okay we have to stop again, so we'll stop as late as we can, to have as fresh a tyre as we can for the last 10-15 laps'. It didn't look like it was going to work, because although [Daniel] closed up very quickly, the guys [ahead of him] were fighting each other so hard, we were probably going to cook our tyres. We hadn't been quick on the straight all weekend and it didn't look like it was going to happen but, as they got into deg, Daniel just paced himself and then made a fantastic move on Lewis [Hamilton], around the outside at turn two, and a pretty straightforward move on Fernando [Alonso]. Job done.”
Although the second safety car period came a little earlier than would have been ideal, it still fell into RBR's window, and Horner revealed that the team decided that whatever the cars behind Ricciardo did at that point was irrelevant. The Australian was one of only three drivers to take the opportunity to pit at that point, and both Williams cars fitted the harder medium tyre where he took on more softs.
“It was a question of running our own race and where Daniel was intelligent was in not burning up his tyres in the pack,” Horner noted, “He then had enough rubber when those guys [ahead of him] pitted for their stops to use his pace and put in a long stint.”
Insisting that Red Bull would have coped with the necessity of stacking both cars in the pits had Vettel been able to duck in at the original call, Horner also admitted that Ricciardo was combining both supreme ability and the sort of good fortune that often went the way of his more vaunted team-mate in the past.
“The guy is riding the crest of a confidence wave at the moment,” the team boss claimed, “You probably heard it in his radio message after he passed two world champions...
“He's driving the car with such ease at the moment - and things are just falling right for him as well. Being able to get in at the right time for that first stop was a critical element of the race, but we then had a problem on one of the cylinders in his engine in that penultimate stint. Again, the Renault guys were able to find a way around it, to disable the sensor, and then his passing moves in the last five laps just topped a fantastic race.”
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