Daniel Ricciardo has lamented his missed opportunity in the Chinese Grand Prix after a costly puncture whilst leading cost him what he felt was a certain podium result.
Having caused a stir by placing his Red Bull on the front row, Riccardo made no mistake from the lights as he led Nico Rosberg around turns one and two, maintaining a comfortable margin over the Mercedes for the opening two laps.
However, just as DRS was enabled on lap three, Ricciardo struck debris and picked up a puncture on his left-rear along the back straight, forcing him to pit. Ironically, the safety car would come out a lap later due to the debris on the track, but it would serve to put Ricciardo even further out of contention.
Nonetheless, the Australian put in a tremendous fight back up the order, working his way from a low of 18th back up the order, all the way to fourth at the chequered flag. However, while he says the performance itself was one of his best, the result remains somewhat bitter.
“Mixed emotions right now,” he said. “The puncture was unlucky, and then the safety car put us even further back. So we restarted 17th, so to get through Hamilton and the Williams at the end, and the pace we had, I'm definitely proud.
“I feel that I drove one of the best races of my life, but I'm not spraying the champagne, so it sucks! It hurts! But at the same time I am immensely proud of the way I recovered and the way the team got me back on track.
“We did the best we could. We closed it up. I could see Danny down the back straight in the last few laps. I know I could not catch him. Of course for the team it is awesome to finish third and fourth. We should be second, that is a fact, but that is racing. It is unlucky, but it sucks, it really does.”