RESULTS: Malaysian Grand Prix – Race results
Daniel Ricciardo says it will take time for his fourth career Formula 1 victory to sink in after prevailing in a thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix characterised by a dramatic late exit for long-time leader Lewis Hamilton.
Around a Sepang circuit Ricciardo expected Red Bull to struggle on relative to Mercedes and even Ferrari, the Australian enjoyed a clean race on an otherwise troubled day for most of his rivals, beginning at the start when Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel's tangle lifted him to second place early on.
POINTS: F1 World Championship Standings after the Malaysian GP
Consolidating the position as the race entered the latter stages, Ricciardo was in the midst of fighting a rear-guard action against team-mate Max Verstappen when Hamilton retired ahead of him with technical issues.
Promoting him into the lead, though he and Verstappen were free to race, Ricciardo would hold the youngster off to the chequered flag to secure his first win since the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, Red Bull in turn celebrating its first 1-2 since 2013.
Though Ricciardo acknowledges the fortune in his success, he insists he was still made to work hard for the result and is thrilled to be back on top of the podium after more than two years.
“What a day! I realise what has happened, but a lot went down in the last two hours. It is a lot to take in. It has been, let's say, an interesting two years since my last victory. So, it feels awesome for sure. Very grateful for it.”
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Reflecting on his battle with Verstappen after the pair went side-by-side in the fight for second just two laps before their tussle took on a new dynamic, he praised his team-mate for his aggressive but fair attempts to pass.
“It was a good battle. Max was on a little bit fresher tyres and I knew he would come at some point. But obviously I was trying to do everything I could to hold him off and it was fun. It was hard racing, for sure, but we are both determined to win and we want to beat each other. But I think we did it very fair and with a lot of respect. So obviously I thank him for that and it goes both ways. It was good fun.
Celebrating with a 'Shoey' on the podium – before inviting Verstappen, Nico Rosberg and Christian Horner to join him -, the result marks Ricciardo's fifth podium in six races, the Australian saying his win goes a long way to making up for his Monaco Grand Prix disappointment.
“I am not sure still what happened to Lewis. Obviously we got that one today, but obviously we gave him that one in Monaco, so I like to think it has evened out and I'll definitely take the win today.
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