Daniel Ricciardo insists he doesn't want to overshadow new team-mate Max Verstappen's stunning victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, but admits he is 'bitter' to have lost a potential win due to an incorrect strategy call by Red Bull.
Having assumed first position on the opening lap in the wake of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton's collision at turn three, Ricciardo proceeded to lead for the majority of the race over Verstappen – making his Red Bull bow – and a looming Sebastian Vettel.
With Ferrari rolling the dice by placing Vettel onto a three-stop strategy, Red Bull reacted by doing the same with Ricciardo. Re-emerging behind the two-stopping Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen now running 1-2, as well as Vettel, it was hoped Ricciardo's fresher rubber would carry him back through to the front in the closing laps.
However, it would prove to be an incorrect call, Verstappen and Raikkonen able to maintain their advantage out front as Ricciardo became bottled up behind the robustly defending Vettel.
With a puncture a lap from the end ending his podium challenge anyway, if not stopping him from securing fourth, the Australian couldn't help but feel aggrieved by the unsatisfactory outcome for him despite the bigger story it subsequently created.
“I don't know [why we did the strategy],” he said. “Obviously in hindsight it was the wrong thing to do. Maybe during the race it seemed like it made more sense, but then I tried with Vettel. At least I had a crack, but it didn't work out. Mixed emotions to be not even anywhere on the podium, it sort of sucks, and then the puncture at the end just (put) salt into the wounds.”
Pointing out it made little sense to lose track position given the Red Bull RB12 is not the strongest car in terms of top speed to fight-back successfully, Ricciardo admits he is unsure as to why his comfortable lead was sacrificed to Ferrari's actions.
“When you are leading the race, to then say alright let's still try and win but pass three cars, when you don't have the quickest car down the straight, and it is not the easiest place to overtake. I am not really sure why that was the case today.”
Indeed, though Ricciardo remained full of praise for Verstappen, who in turn became the youngest ever F1 race winner, he says he is 'bitter'.
“I definitely don't want to come across as a bad sportsman, so he was won today, his first race with the team. Whatever happened on track he still crossed the line in first. Sure it is a big day for him, and congrats to him. I briefly saw him now. I mean, sure, it is every man for himself out there, and I am bitter right now. Not bitter obviously with Max, not at all, he did what he had to do. But I am just bitter at the situation.”