Daniel Ricciardo feared for his podium finish in the Singapore Grand Prix, expecting Fernando Alonso to take advantage of technical issues that had plagued his Red Bull for much of the race.
The Australian held on to finish third behind Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel, but admitted that he was surprised not to have been subjected to more pressure from Alonso, as the Ferrari driver homed in at the end of the longest race on the schedule.
“I could see, after the restart, that he wasn't attacking as much as I thought with a new set of primes, so I thought he was holding back to make a late charge at the end,” he explained, “But we all piled up and I caught the back of Sebastian and [Alonso] caught up to the back of me. We were all in a train and not many opportunities arose for any of us. It is what it was - I did expect him to come on a bit stronger at the end but, when you start following, you have to get the pedal down to set up a pass and you start hurting the rears, so you all sort of fall into each others' pace.”
Ricciardo started third on the grid but, with Nico Rosberg's Mercedes missing from the front row, was open to attack from team-mate Vettel into turn one. Although both Bed Bulls were passed by the fast-starting Alonso, the Spaniard had to take to the run-off area at turn one, and eventually ceded his second spot back to Vettel. There was no such grace for Ricciardo, however, and the Australian spent a lot of the race chasing the Ferrari.
It was not easy for the Red Bull driver, however, as his car had already started to develop problems that would restrict its performance for the entire two hours and 60 laps.
“The start wasn't initially too bad but, just before turn one, we had an issue and lost a bit of power, so whether we could have held on or not, who knows,” he conceded, “Obviously Fernando went wide and gave the place back to Seb and the race from there was fairly straightforward.
“We had quite a bit going on - power was coming and going and, pretty much from the safety car onwards, it was consistently down on power. Coming up through the gears, it would get a little power and then drop and come again, so we definitely had a few issues. We tried fixing them but, to be honest, we didn't quite clear them all up. We'll have to look into that and see how much it cost us. Normally, if we have these glitches, after a couple of laps, we clear it, but this one pretty much carried through all the way, so I'm a bit frustrated.
“I was concerned we wouldn't get all the way through to the flag but, luckily, it held on and hopefully we'll fix it for Japan. It was nice to get on the back of Seb and put him under a bit of pressure, but it was 'follow the leader' and not much else we could do.”
Asked whether he should have been given a place by Alonso on lap one, Ricciardo admitted that he would need to see a replay of the race to determine their relative positions at turn one.
“He went off - that was clear - and I knew he'd give [the place] back to Seb, but whether or not he had to give it back to me, I'll have to have a look at that,” he confirmed, “I was just focused on regrouping from the start to be honest, and to get on the podium is not a bad result, it's good for the team.”