Daniel Ricciardo praised the efforts of his Red Bull team, and team-mate Max Verstappen, as a double podium finish in the German Grand Prix helped it move ahead of Ferrari in the F1 constructors' standings.
The Milton Keynes operation has been closing steadily on its Italian rival through the summer and, heading to Hockenheim just a single point adrift of second place overall, knew that a strong result would be enough to turn the tables. A stellar start allowed Verstappen to assume second on the road after going around the outside of Ricciardo in turn one but the decision to split the drivers' strategies at the first round of pit-stops effectively handed the advantage back to the Australian.
RESULTS: German Grand Prix – Race results
With Verstappen struggling on supersoft Pirellis in his second stint, he was switched to the soft compound next time around, while Ricciardo completed the opposite move, having used the yellow-ringed rubber from his first stop. The change coincided with Verstappen being forced off the road by polesitter Nico Rosberg - who was attempting to recover the large amount of ground lost to team-mate and title rival Lewis Hamilton after a nightmare start – and prompted Red Bull to order a swap of position between its two drivers so that the charging Ricciardo, at least, could capitalise on Rosberg's impending penalty.
“We obviously wanted to finish the first part of the season on a high and, after Friday's long runs, we knew we would probably be more competitive in the race stint than we were in Budapest,” the Australian explained, “The start, initially, felt quite good. Obviously, Nico's was quite poor so we got past him, and then I covered the inside in turn one but then Max had a good run on the outside and, much to my disappointment, he pulled off the move. Then it was trying to keep Nico back on the first lap. It was a good little battle there for a few corners and that was quite important for my race.”
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Ricciardo revealed that the initial battle plan was for him to try and stretch out his race over just two stops for tyres, but it quickly became clear that that wasn't the optimal way to take the fight to Mercedes once Rosberg had fallen behind the two Red Bulls.
“It wasn't really the intention to do a three-stop at the start of the race [but] then it looked, as the race was going, that it was more and more likely,” he confirmed, “Because both myself and Max were in front of Nico at the time, we'd split the Mercedes, so one of us was trying to cover what Nico did and that then allowed me to try something else. I think the reason why we split the tyres.
“The supersoft worked a lot better [for me], and I was happier with that tyre the last two stints. That was how, I guess, I got the second place. I think that was all it was. Obviously, once I caught Max in the second last stint, I had the DRS, but he made life easy for me so that was, let's say, a good little bit of teamwork for us – and, obviously, the team was happy that we played nice and got maximum points today.”
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Although he homed in on leader Hamilton at one point, Ricciardo's dreams of winning on his 100th start – and in front of his spectating parents – were quickly quelled by the Briton, who briefly upped his pace to show he had more in hand while attempting to preserve his engine life.
“Once we put the supersofts on, the last two stints, that's where I really felt like I could push the car,” Ricciardo revealed, “We really capitalised on a good day and we had a good car. Obviously, we couldn't win, but second and third isn't too bad. It's two weekends in a row with a podium and, for the team, we're now second in the constructors' [standings], so I think we can be really proud, both of us, to split the Mercedes today. It's a really good effort.”