RESULTS: Japanese Grand Prix – Race results
Daniel Ricciardo says that his grid promotion in the wake of Kimi Raikkonen's five-place gearbox penalty proved detrimental to his race after the Australian was moved to the opposite side of the grid.
Originally saying that moving to the inside of the grid would possibly be of benefit to the Red Bull driver, an overnight shower dampened the circuit with support races only clearing a properly dry line on the outside part (pole side) of the home straight.
With the inside of the circuit, where Ricciardo and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton started from, remaining damp both drivers got away slowly, allowing Sebastian Vettel to jump both drivers and move his Ferrari into a position where he was able to fight for a podium position.
“Raikkonen's gearbox penalty was the opposite of a blessing in disguise,” Ricciardo said after finishing sixth in the Japanese GP.
“It put me on the wet side of the grid. And it looked like all of us on that inside line struggled a bit, especially Hamilton. My initial launch was not bad, but then having to go around him I crossed the wet patch and lost out, so then Perez (got by).
POINTS: The F1 World Championship standings after the Japanese Grand Prix
“On the first stint we struggled to stay close, and it just seemed like we couldn't follow the cars that well with the dirty air. And we didn't have the straight line speed to make an attack. We saw Vettel make quick work of me on the straight, and then the first lap he caught Perez he got him. So we just struggled with traffic today and fell behind the eight ball from that first stint.”
For most of the race, the Australian found himself in a race of his own after initially fighting for third position.
Once he made his final pit stop, Ricciardo's race looked as though had come alive, as he was the only driver in the top ten lapping Suzuka in the 1min 35s on the hard tyre and tracking down Raikkonen at almost a second per lap.
Ricciardo was able to cut his deficit to Raikkonen from 10 seconds to 4.5 seconds – setting the fastest lap on the way - until his charge ran out of steam, as his pace dropped and was unable to continue to bridge the gap to the Finn's Ferrari.
“I didn't feel that there was anything else we could do; it was a bit of circumstances how the race panned out. The last stint we finally got some clean air, and it looked like we could put in some quick times at the beginning. But in the end we sort of conceded sixth and that was it.”
While Ricciardo was one of many frontrunners battling with traffic, the Red Bull driver sympathised with the backmarkers, as Suzuka is not the easiest circuit to get out of the way due to its tight and twisty nature.
“I was not on the radio getting angry at anyone today,” Ricciardo continued. “It was just a bit lonely out there trying to do my thing.
“There have been races in the past where I felt a bit more hindered. The first sector is tricky to get out of the way, it is tight, twisty, and not as easy as say Malaysia with a wider circuit.”
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