Aussie F1 star Daniel Ricciardo was a man of his word after copping a five-second penalty in the Russian Grand Prix overnight.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas won a dramatic race that left teammate Lewis Hamilton fuming after he received two five-second penalties for practice lap violations in the formation lap before lights out.
There was chaos on the first lap when McLaren’s Carlos Sainz crashed into a wall on turn two, and Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was knocked out by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
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Ricciardo, who started the race on the third row of the grid, avoided the carnage behind him and although he jostled for third at one stage, remained in mostly the same position for the entirety of the Grand Prix and crossed the line fifth.
After pitting early, Ricciardo was working his way back through the field when he found himself stuck behind Renault teammate Esteban Ocon and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
After several laps without success in overtaking for Ocon, the team ordered Ricciardo to take the lead — and it almost ended in disaster.
Coming up to the second corner, which had been a difficult turn for drivers all weekend, the Aussie star locked up and ran wide, copping a standard five-second penalty.
While Hamilton raged over his penalties, Ricciardo took his medicine in his stride.
“I’ll just drive faster,” he said over the team radio when told of the penalty. “That’s my bad, I’ll make up for it.”
And he did, finishing fifth, 10 seconds ahead of Leclerc in sixth, negating his five second penalty.
Asked about the penalty post race, Ricciardo took the blame for the incident.
“I just locked up and it was pretty simple from my part,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports. “As I hit the brake I was like, ‘Oh … oh no’. My engineer came on and said I had a five second penalty, I took the blame for it and just said I’ll drive faster.”
He was praised by the Sky Sports interviewers for a “great attitude to have”.
Asked why he didn’t try to get through the bollards, Ricciardo said he just hoped he’d held on.
“It‘s one of those ones where I think from the outside it’s easy to say, ‘Just go through the cut through’ but I was hanging on until the very end,” he said. “And to be honest, in the car, you don’t see exactly the kerb and the end of it and visibility is not perfect.
“I knew I was likely over but I’ll try to hang onto it if I can. Obviously I didn’t but probably forced me to push a little harder at the end so made a race for myself.”
Social media was certainly feeling the love for Ricciardo’s classy, no-fuss radio response to his punishment.
While he couldn’t put pressure on Racing Point’s Sergio Perez in fourth place, the result sees Ricciardo move to sixth on the drivers’ championship standings, one point behind Red Bull’s Alexander Albon, who is one point behind McLaren’s Lando Norris in fourth.
If he can get past Norris and cling on to fourth, it would be his best finish since the 2016 season when he was with Red Bull.
“I‘m happy with the outcome, there were moments of the race where I was certainly a bit upset with myself,” Ricciardo said. “There were a few errors from my part. But I didn’t let it get to me and I think that was important.
“I knew I made some mistakes but I quickly snapped out of it and recovered quite well. I’ll admit I wasn’t perfect today, that’s for sure, but I think overall I’m still happy with the result.
“Team did great, fifth and (Ocon in) seventh, reliability is good, it’s a good one.”
As for the constructors’ standings, Renault is still in fifth but it sets up a tight midfield battle with Racing Point and McLaren as just seven points separate the teams.
While Ricciardo isn’t sure if any upgrades are coming in the next few weeks, he is confident going forward.
“I was pretty pessimistic coming here, I wasn’t sure how the car would be, also myself,” he said. “For us to have a strong weekend throughout, I honestly carry pretty good confidence now for the rest of the tracks this year.
“Obviously not getting ahead of ourselves but I think we can really make things happen and Nurburgring, I’m looking forward to going back.”