Starting from seventh, Ricciardo moved ahead of Sainz and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez on the opening lap.

The Australian ran in fifth for much of the first half of the race before surrendering the position to Perez as he overtook around the outside of Turn 1.

Ricciardo managed to fend off Sainz for sixth, despite Ferrari appearing to have the superior pace in Barcelona.

Reflecting on his weekend as a whole, Ricciardo feels he’s made a significant step forward after beating teammate Norris for the first time in 2021.

“Happy all weekend,” Ricciardo said. “It was personally a better weekend for sure. It is definitely a step in the right direction, it is progress. I’m still learning, it sounds crazy to say that but still learning how to be better with this car. The race was good. We do the race five more times a day and I think six is the best we can finish.

“Every car ahead was faster, and even Carlos behind was faster. So getting him at the start was critical and that allowed me to finish sixth. The team executed a good two stops. We changed the plan later in the race and it was the right call.”

Ricciardo labelled it as his “strongest race” even though he was forced to be on the defensive for the majority of it.

“It has been my strongest race so far this year,” Ricciardo added. “I think Portugal was good but I started too far back. Today was better because we made a good start and got ahead of some faster cars, and then I had to defend the whole race.

“There was a lot of pressure and still some mistakes, but it was a much cleaner race. Sergio was much faster but to hold them off as long as I did I was quite happy with that. I’m sure it was not too fun for him, but I had to try. And in the end holding off Carlos was important.”

Teammate Norris could only manage eighth, finishing where he started.

Explaining his race in Barcelona, he said: “No surprises. Just very difficult to pass. To even get close, to get into DRS in the final sector is pretty tough. That was proved. We did what we could. That strategy that we did at the end going to a two-stop, and getting past Ocon that was the only thing that we could have done really.

“Maybe it did not look good, but as races go we had a decent race. We did what we could, and we did the best that we could as well.”

 

 

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