Aussie pushes hard but settles for fourth while Verstappen recovers from a spin.
Daniel Ricciardo equalled his best ever result at his home Grand Prix and outlined his pace by setting the fastest lap of the race with a 1:25.945.
Ricciardo started eighth at the season opener in Melbourne but made his way through the field and pushed Kimi Räikkönen in the Ferrari extremely hard for the final podium spot in the closing laps.
World champion Lewis Hamilton was in control early on in the race but was overtaken by Sebastian Vettel during a virtual safety car period with the German holding on to claim a dramatic victory.
Max Verstappen recovered from an early spin on lap 10 to finish sixth while Brendon Hartley in the Scuderia Toro Rosso came home 15th.
In There Own Words:
Finish Position: 6th, Start Position: 4th
“The start was ok but I got a bit unfortunate at turn one and ended up in the wrong position so lost out on fourth. I tried to follow as best I could but experienced a few issues with the feeling of the car. I think at about lap four or five I sustained a bit of damage on the car, I’m not sure what from as I didn’t have any contact or hit any curbs hard. When I jumped out of the car I could see some damage and I also think something broke off so we need to investigate what that was. The issue made it hard to hold on mid corner which eventually led to me spinning and then struggling for the rest of the race. Luckily I didn’t lose too many positions due to the spin and still managed to have a battle to the end. It is still really hard to get past the cars ahead as soon as you are within a second. This track is hard to overtake also but when you have limited grip it is extra hard. The car has been running and feeling really good all weekend so it’s a shame to have the damage and then the bad feeling during the race. We are happy to score some points considering the circumstances, as soon as we had clean air the pace was good. Looking ahead I think if we can have a good Qualifying and clean start then everything else should sort itself out in the race and we can be competitive.”
Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 8th
“I woke up this morning happy because it’s race day and it’s been too long since we raced so, already before the race I was just happy and smiling. It’s a long wait and in the week leading up to this race, you talk so much about the race and it’s like, let’s just do it. I’m happy with the way I drove today and we had a very fast race car. It’s not often I sit behind someone for most of the race but it’s a tight track and one of the more tricky ones for passing. There were a couple of times I had a look at turn three but Kimi was wise to that and could see what I was planning. Towards the end I applied more pressure on him but he was able to up the pace as well. I think we’re pretty close with Ferrari and our race pace is strong, which I thought would be the case, so we just need to get a few more tenths out of Qualifying and then we should be looking good. Being so close to the podium and getting fastest lap is definitely an encouraging way to start the season. I want to thank all the fans for coming out and supporting us today and now it’s definitely time to go and put my feet up for a couple of days after a busy week!”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal:
“A strong recovery from Daniel from P8 on the grid to P4 at a track that is incredibly difficult to pass on. I think the only pass of the entire grand prix was the one he made on Nico Hulkenberg. What we could see in the closing stages of the race was that he was pushing Kimi very hard and he had very good pace, demonstrated by posting the fastest lap, which is encouraging for the season ahead. Max’s afternoon was a frustrating one for him. He made a good start initially but then got boxed in on the right hand side and dropped a place to the Haas. He picked up some damage to the floor on lap four or five that compromised the performance of his car quite significantly but he kept pushing and, despite a spin, was able to bring the car home in sixth place, having fought with Fernando for over 20 laps. He was always within a second but had no opportunity to overtake. We also saw some fantastic work from the pit crew, starting the 2018 season as they mean to go on and scoring the fastest pit-stop of the grand prix.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Finish Position: RTD, Start Position: 20th
“It wasn’t a great start to the season for me. After Turn 12 the engine just switched off, it came back on again but I was really slow and I couldn’t upshift. I tried to return to the pits and then I was told to stop. It’s a shame, especially since we didn’t have anything go wrong in testing. I think everyone in the team is disappointed to have an issue at the first race but we need to look at the positives and learn from the negatives to come back stronger in Bahrain.”
Finish Position: 15th, Start Position: 16th
“It wasn’t a great race for me today, I locked the brakes into Turn 1 at the start and flat-spotted the tyres, so I had no choice but to pit because it was probably the biggest flat spot I’ve ever had. Then on the second stint I had a puncture, so it was game over from that point onwards and I think I had a little bit of damage on the rear from that, so I was driving around by myself all day. It was always going to be tough to get into the points today.”
FRANZ TOST, Team Principal
“As we had a successful test in Barcelona, we expected of course a much better race result in Melbourne, but for various reasons we couldn’t get it together. For sure it didn’t help that it was raining in FP3, because we would have needed a dry track to evaluate the tyres and to find out if our set up changes were going in the right direction. As for Qualifying, Brendon did a reasonable job but Pierre had a problem in Turn 3 so today we had to start from the back of the grid. Pierre had a good start and gained some positions, but unfortunately we faced a power unit issue that forced him to retire. As for Brendon, he locked the front tyres in braking for the first corner – he got a flat spot and we had to call him in to change the tyres and from then onwards he was at the back of the field. Now we can put behind a disappointing weekend – we have a lot of work to do to hopefully achieve a better result in Bahrain.”
Next up, the teams travel to Bahrain in two weeks’ time. See the full race results HERE.