Daniel Ricciardo admits he knew he was zero chance of making a splash at the Spanish Grand Prix after finishing outside the top 10 yet again.
Lewis Hamilton continued his procession towards a seventh Formula One world championship with a comfortable victory on Sunday.
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The Mercedes driver led every lap at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, taking the chequered flag a mammoth 24.1 seconds ahead of Max Verstappen, with Valtteri Bottas in third.
Ricciardo finished 11th after missing the final qualifying session on Saturday, the latest disappointing result in his failed stint at Renault.
The race was widely panned by fans and commentators as “boring”, and Ricciardo knew it would be hard to make his way through the field on the notoriously tight circuit.
“Having raced around here a few times, it’s one of those ones where I can see that I’m catching the top 10, I can see the battle for points is right in front of me,” the Aussie said.
“I know I’m closing but deep down I knew they (rivals) need to make a mistake to pass.
“Even if you have a few more tenths a lap, passing is so tricky around here and once you get close, you hurt the tyres more.
“I pushed to the end and stayed optimistic that something could happen but deep down I knew unless they made a mistake, it’s probably going to stay as it is. It’s one of those ones where I think everyone knows this track so well, it is hard to pass and once you get in a DRS train, it is tricky.
“We got close but it’s always a bit of a shame when you come close but it’s not close enough.”
With teammate Esteban Ocon finishing 13th, it marked the first time all season that Renault had missed the top-10 in a race.
“It was tough today and certainly not where we want to be,” Ricciardo added.
“It was a pretty difficult race and making the one-stop (pit strategy) work was difficult. Obviously, it’s a bit disappointing as we came here expecting much more, especially after two decent races last time out.
“We didn’t expect to have a difficult weekend, but it was very tight out there. We were close to the top 10 in qualifying and in the race, so we’ll try and find out where we lost those couple of tenths and move on to the next race.”
Fans and pundits were on the same page as Ricciardo, with many slamming the boring race as a “shocker” and “disgrace”.
— Jeff Pappone 🇨🇦 (@jpappone) August 16, 2020
This was a bad race, F1.
— Jonathan Gitlin (@drgitlin) August 16, 2020
— Nikhil Chinapa (@nikhilchinapa) August 16, 2020
— Kendra Kiss (@kendrakissgolf) August 16, 2020
— Gianluca Sartori (@spaghettidba) August 16, 2020
Lewis Hamilton makes more F1 history
The win marked Hamilton’s 88th career win, moving him to within only three of Michael Schumacher's all-time record.
Hamilton could match the German at Ferrari’s 1000th Grand Prix in Mugello next month.
The Briton has now also secured more podium finishes than any other driver in the sport’s history, spraying champagne for the 156th time, one more than Schumacher managed.
Bottas pitted for new tyres late on to claim the fastest lap, but Hamilton, who lapped the entire field up to the third, will head to the next round in Belgium with a commanding 37-point lead over Verstappen in the standings.
Sergio Perez finished fourth but was demoted to fifth after serving a five-second penalty for ignoring blue flags.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll took the position with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in sixth.
Hamilton’s winning streak came to an end at last weekend's 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone after Verstappen won for Red Bull.
Hamilton’s afternoon was plagued by tyre woes on that occasion, but in the 30-degree heat on the outskirts of Barcelona, he had no such worries as he led from the front in impressive fashion.