Daniel Ricciardo came heartbreakingly close to his first F1 podium with Renault at the Tuscan Grand Prix overnight, eventually nabbing fourth place in a chaotic race.
After enduring an inconsistent campaign in his first season with the French manufacturer last year, Ricciardo seems to have gone from strength to strength in 2020.
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Still hunting the team’s first podium since rejoining the sport in 2016, Ricciardo leapt to second place following the second race restart, which was required after Racing Point’s Lance Stroll had an enormous crash in the latter stages of the race.
The Australian superstar hung on as long as he could, but was ultimately reeled in first by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, then by Red Bull’s Alex Albon.
Just 12 drivers finished the race, and Ricciardo’s consolation prize of being voted ‘Driver of the Day’ by fans proved to be of little comfort.
“I’m smiling on the outside, but obviously there is pain on the inside,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports.
“We know we had a great race; strategy was awesome, we undercut Stroll, starts were great, put ourselves there.
“With low fuel and soft tyres, (Albon’s) car came alive a little more in the last sector and then he broke my DRS really quickly and I didn’t have an answer.
“We had top-five pace all race, so it’s encouraging. It was certainly not a dull race.”
The one thing that I didn't realise with Mugello was that how impressive Daniel Ricciardo was in the Renault. He deserves to be in a car that van challenge the Mercedes.— Sahil Mohan Gupta (@DigitallyBones) September 13, 2020
Albon genuinely does seem like a good guy. Last weekend seeing Gasly win was heartening too. Really, really gutted for Ricciardo. Awfully close yet again 😔— Manasi Pathak (@ThatUnitedLady) September 13, 2020
Lewis Hamilton prevails in chaotic Tuscan Grand Prix
Hamilton celebrated his 90th Formula One win, one short of Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's all-time record, after a crazy race on Sunday that twice had to be stopped and re-started.
The six-times world champion’s Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas completed the Mercedes one-two in a crash-strewn race at the Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit north of Florence in central Italy.
Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, whose Dutch teammate Max Verstappen retired in the gravel after a second corner collision, took third place for his first career F1 podium.
The race was stopped eight laps in following a collision among back-markers who sped up too early when the safety car had peeled off with Bottas leading and controlling the pace.
Debris was scattered across the main straight after McLaren's Carlos Sainz piled into the back of Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi with Haas's Kevin Magnussen and Williams' Nicholas Latifi also caught up.
On-board footage showed a number of cars ploughing into the back of rivals at frightening speed.
“That was f****** stupid from whoever was at the front,” Haas driver Romain Grosjean said.
“Do they want to kill us or what? This is the worst thing I’ve seen, ever.”
Luckily none were injured.
“Oh my God, that was dangerous,” Sainz could be heard saying on team radio.
“Everyone in front of me thought the race was going and we were all flat out until someone realised the race was not on,” the Spaniard added after the race.
“It's definitely not a nice feeling to do 280km/h and suddenly find three cars in the middle of the straight.”
The safety car had been deployed initially after Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri was launched into Max Verstappen's car after contact with Grosjean's Haas and Kimi Raikkonen's Alfa Romeo.
The retirement was Verstappen's second in a row and third of the season.
The front wing of Vettel's Ferrari was also damaged in contact with Sainz, his replacement at the Italian team next year.
The race was red-flagged again with 13 laps remaining when Canadian Lance Stroll crashed his Racing Point at the second Arrabbiata turn after a puncture, leaving the car a wreck.