Daniel Ricciardo feels the high rate of overtaking during the Japanese Grand Prix came as a pleasant surprise to fuel his charge to fourth place for Red Bull.

After suffering a nightmare in qualifying with a mechanical breakdown at the start of Q2, which relegated him to 15th place on the starting grid, the Australian driver made light work charging through the F1 midfield in the opening stages.

COTA #2 - Tremendous Turn 1

Profiting from starting on the alternate strategy to his teammate and both Ferrari drivers, Ricciardo surged up to fourth getting ahead of Kimi Raikkonen using the overcut with Sebastian Vettel dropping out of contention following his early tangle with Max Verstappen.

Despite seeing his podium drought continue, having last stepped on the rostrum when he won in Monaco, Ricciardo was able to secure his best result since the Hungarian Grand Prix in July and put it largely down to overtaking being easier than predicted at Suzuka having feared of struggling to carve up the order after qualifying.

“Surprisingly I was able to come through the field, like overtake. I don’t mean that in me personally but as a track to overtake this is normally not that easy,” Ricciardo said. “I was able to use the downforce that we had. I knew we would be quite vulnerable on the straights, we had very high downforce this weekend, but I could stay close enough in the corners so that I could latch on to their tow on the straights. So, it was a good setting.

“That first part was fun, and once we got on the medium it was just to try and cover Kimi. Fourth place was kind of written after that.

“I would have loved a podium. I was kind of hoping for someone in front to fall off, but at the same time at least a fourth I feel I earned today. So that was a good recovery.”