September 18, 2021

Ricciardo proud of fourth and ‘big’ fastest lap

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Ricciardo and Renault were on the charge at Spa

Last Updated: 30/08/20 6:40pm

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Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth in Spa and was pleased to pick up the fastest lap late on

Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth in Spa and was pleased to pick up the fastest lap late on

Daniel Ricciardo says he relished Renault’s straight-line speed at the Belgian GP as the in-form Australian secured fourth and a surprise fastest lap around Spa to highlight the team’s podium-challenging threat.

It was Ricciardo’s second top-four finish in four F1 2020 races, and he was just 3s off Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after stonking closing laps – the last of which sealing him Renault’s first fastest lap since 2010.

“We had a lot of pace,” admitted Ricciardo, who is desperate to break Renault’s podium drought before joining McLaren next year, to Sky F1.

Ricciardo battled fairly through the opening few corners with Verstappen after starting behind his former team-mate on the second row, lunging down the inside into Les Combes, but after the Red Bull pulled away he was unlucky with the timing of the early Safety Car.

Without cars between him and Max, Ricciardo feels a podium could have been on.

“The Safety Car put a gap between Max and myself with (Pierre) Gasly and (Sergio) Perez staying out,” he explained. “By the time I got past them the leaders were gone.

“I genuinely think we could have hung with him on the hard [tyre]. Whether we could have passed I don’t know.”

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Renault’s Esteban Ocon was very pleased to take fifth after a last-lap pass on Red Bull’s Alex Albon

Renault’s Esteban Ocon was very pleased to take fifth after a last-lap pass on Red Bull’s Alex Albon

After dispatching both Gasly and Perez with ease – and comfortably holding off Albon in the other Red Bull – Ricciardo was lapping much faster than the leading trio at the end of the race, leading to a last-lap charge for a bonus point.

“My engineer told me the current fastest lap with a lap to go, and it was about half a second quicker than what I’d done,” said Ricciardo. “And I wasn’t really wasting too much time but I thought I’d put a proper qualifying lap in, used all of the track everywhere and it was a big lap – probably better than my qualifying lap yesterday!”

F1 heads to the Italian GP next weekend, where Renault secured 22 points last season and where Ricciardo sealed his only 2019 fourth-place finish.

“This was a good track for us last year but Monza was even better,” said Ricciardo. “We’ll try not to get ahead of ourselves, but I certainly think we can go there with a lot of confidence.”