Daniel Ricciardo described his victory at the Belgian Grand Prix as “surreal”, after the Australian ace effectively picked up the pieces from the controversial Mercedes collision and powered to an impressive and somewhat surprise victory. This now takes Ricciardo’s tally of wins to three, after Canada and Hungary.
Despite starting from fifth position on the grid, behind the Mercedes duo, team-mate Vettel and the Ferrari of Alonso, Ricciardo was expecting to fight for no higher than third position between the Williams duo, Alonso and his team-mate. However, once Rosberg collided with Hamilton and threw the race purely on its head, Ricciardo was able to capitalise and go on to overtake his team-mate, who ran wide at turn 11 during the early stages of the race.
From there Ricciardo never looked back, only losing the lead once to Bottas for one lap after making his first of two stops. With Rosberg opting for a three-stop strategy after his collision with Hamilton, the German was quickly closing the gap to Ricciardo during the final few laps. The Australian driver explained after the race that remaining out during the final few laps was tough, however it paid dividends as he crossed the line with just over three seconds separating himself to the late charging Rosberg on fresher and softer tyres.
“You know everyone was saying we didn’t really have a chance around here, but I think we had some really good pace today and surprised ourselves,” enthused Ricciardo after the race. “It feels a bit surreal, but another win is very cool, very cool. It was difficult staying out at the end of the race.
“When you’re the leader as well you always feel like you’re the most vulnerable when it comes to a pit stop or not, but Simon [Rennie] my engineer came on the radio and said I think it’s 11 laps left, can these tyres get to the end? And I said I think I can keep more or less this pace, and we were able to, and then on the last lap I found a couple more tenths, so I was having a bit of fun then!”
With Ricciardo securing a second consecutive victory, and third of the season overall, he currently sits only 35 points behind the Mercedes of Hamilton who was unable to score any points after retiring towards the latter half of the race. With double points on offer at the season finale at Abu Dhabi, many could well be forgiven for eyeing the Australian as a potential Championship contender despite Mercedes’ dominance.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic