Daniel Ricciardo took his first podium finish since last year’s Mexican Grand Prix with a measured Spanish Grand Prix drive that saw him claim third place when Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas dropped out of the race with mechanical issues. There was disappointment for Max Verstappen, though, with the Dutchman exiting the race after just a single lap following a Turn One collision with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
I'M HAPPY TO BE BACK ON THE PODIUM TODAY.
After an excellent Saturday that saw him qualify within six tenths of a second of pole position, Max lined up fifth on the grid. When the lights went out he made a good start, initially hugging an inside line as the field streamed toward the first turn.
As Raikkonen went to pass the slower starting Bottas ahead, Max switched to a wide arc, anticipating a move on both the Ferrari man and the Mercedes driver if they tussled.
The trio squeezed into the turn and Raikkonen's rear right clipped the front left of Bottas. The contact pitched the Ferrari to the left, straight into the front right wheel of Max's car. Raikkonen suffered with broken suspension that soon forced him to stop. And while Max limped back to the pit lane, damage to his front right suspension meant he was forced to retire.
Daniel, meanwhile, avoided the trouble and as the fast-starting Sebastian Vettel stole the lead ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Bottas, the Red Bull racer slotted into fourth place.
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE A BIT OF LUCK, LIKE LAST YEAR, SOMETIMES YOU DON'T...
Unable to quite match the pace of the front three over the opening stint, Daniel then settled in for the long haul, pitting for the first time on lap 21 for medium tyres. He the did a short stint on the harder compound, pitting again on lap 38 for a second set of softs.
Fortune then favoured the Australian, as ahead Valtteri Bottas ran into trouble.
On Friday night Mercedes had detected an issue with the power unit the Finn was set to use this weekend and so swapped it for an older engine, used in Russia. That issued appeared to bite the Finn when he dramatically lost power on lap 39, with flames appearing at the back of his car. He ground to a halt and Daniel swept past to claim third.
With the leaders a long way distant, Daniel reported that he was in a bit of a "no-man's land". He pushed hard when Vettel and Hamilton began to tussle for the lead after their second stops, and there might have been fireworks, but when the Mercedes driver passed the Ferrari man under DRS on lap 43, Daniel settled back and took his 19th career podium finish behind winner Hamilton and runner-up Vettel. His straightforward assessment of the race over the radio: "the honey badger will take what he can get".
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
- 7 - races since Daniel's last top-three finish – at the 2016 Mexican GP.
- 19 – Daniel's 19th career podium at the circuit where he had his first – also P3 – in the 2014 edition of the Spanish GP.
- 2 – Max's second DNF of the season, but his first retirement caused by a collision during his Red Bull Racing career.
- 7 – Red Bull Racing's seventh podium at the Spanish GP and 10th in Spain (the others were scored in Valencia at the European).
Behind Daniel, Force India scored a fifth double points finish in a row, with Sergio Perez in P5 immediately ahead of Esteban Ocon. Nico Hulkenberg rose from P13 on the grid to take sixth ahead of Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz and Sauber's one-stopping Pascal Wehrlein.
Daniil Kvyat in the second Toro Rosso made the day's biggest positional gain, rising from P19 on the grid to P9 with what was also effectively a one-stop plan. The Russian started on mediums, shed them after one lap and then drove two long-ish stints on soft tyres to climb through the order. The day's final point was claimed by Haas' Romain Grosjean.
Get Daniel, Max and Christian's post reactions here.