Aussie Daniel Ricciardo has reached a massive milestone in his Renault career in a brilliant drive at the Eifel Grand Prix, hanging on to third in a thrilling finish.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton equalled Michael Schumacher’s all-time race wins record with 91 but the Aussie ended plenty of pain with a stunning drive behind second-placed Max Verstappen.
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It’s been a long time coming for Ricciardo, who claimed his first podium since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix when he won in a Red Bull.
It’s been much longer for Renault, whose last podium was at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix when Nick Heidfeld finished third.
“Is that a podium boys?” Ricciardo said over team radio. “Is that a f***ing podium?”
His engineer replied: “That’s a f***ing podium, good job Daniel.”
“Good job Daniel,” team principal Cyril Abiteboul said. “Thank you.”
From there, Ricciardo could only laugh before saying “persistence pays off, merci. Woo. Oh wow, enjoy this one guys, enjoy it, it’s a good feeling. Wow, feels good, feels good.”
Ricciardo was equally pumped in the post-race interview.
“It’s been a while. It feels like the first podium all over again,” he said.
“It’s been two and a half years or something and the feeling is really nice. It’s fresh.
“Wow. So happy. To see everyone as well, we’ve all waited a long time for this so I think everyone is going to soak it up.”
Ricciardo’s podium also saw him win his bet with Abiteboul – who promised to get a tattoo when the drought was broken.
“It’s real – it’s going to happen,” Ricciardo said. “We’ll have to do some thinking now. Probably something to do with me but with a German flavour. This is the place we did it, so a little tip of the hat to something traditional in Germany as well.”
After a shockingly calm start to the race, it took until just before the 20th lap for something interesting to happen.
The real action started when Williams’ George Russell was shunted by Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, almost flipping the Williams.
It was a spectacular moment but luckily didn’t slam Russell into the barriers, although it shredded his tyres and appeared to ruin his suspension, forcing him out of the race.
Then Red Bull’s Alexander Albon knocked the front wing off AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat.
But it was when pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes ran out of power, it was all happening.
A matter of laps later, Ricciardo’s Renault teammate Esteban Ocon and Albon needed to retire as well.
In the space of 10 laps, Ricciardo was set up for a run at his first podium.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was the main threat. He was closing in but a safety car – called when Ricciardo’s future teammate Lando Norris’ car died – gave both drivers fresh tyres for a 10-lap sprint to the finish.
From there, Ricciardo’s Renault held on by a second to claim third. The result moved him up to fourth in the driver standings.
Hamilton’s historic win ended with Schumacher’s son and F2 star Mick Schumacher gifting him one of the German legend’s helmets.
“Congratulations. This is from all of us,” Mick said. “A great achievement.”
Hamilton was stunned by the gesture.
“I don’t even know what to say,” he said. “When you grow up watching someone you generally idolise them in terms of the quality of the driver they are but also what they are able to continuously do race on race, year on year, week on week.
“There was a game called Grand Prix 2 and I remember playing as Michael and seeing his dominance for so long I don’t think anyone, especially me, didn’t imagine that I’d be anywhere near Michael in terms of records.
“So it’s an incredible honour and it’s going to take some time to get used to it.
“When I came into the pit lane that’s only when I realised I had equalled it, I hadn’t even computed it when I had crossed the line. I couldn’t have done it without this incredible team.
“A very big thank you and huge respect to Michael.”
EIFEL GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING RESULTS
1st: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2nd: Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3rd: Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
4th: Sergio Perez, Racing Point
5th: Carlos Sainz, McLaren
6th: Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
7th: Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
8th: Nico Hulkenberg, Racing Point
9th: Romain Grosjean, Haas
10th: Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
Daniel Ricciardo has dropped back to fourth but has got a fresh set of tyres in a shootout for third with Sergio Perez.
It came as Perez was closing in on Ricciardo with the Renault with nowhere near big enough a gap to hang on to the podium.
“Ricciardo has just been told the team are considering Plan B,” reports Paul Di Resta in Sky Race Control.
But then McLaren’s Lando Norris’ car just konked out and brought out a safety car.
It allowed Ricciardo to pit – Perez too – but it just might help the Aussie onto the podium.
But it also meant that Perez is now right on Ricciardo’s tail.
There are 10 laps to go – here we go.
At the 37th lap, Daniel Ricciardo is currently 15 second ahead in third.
But it’s somewhat misleading as the fourth place Sergio Perez has 14 lap fresher tyres, after the Aussie pitted on the 16th lap under a virtual safety car.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out as the Aussie will rarely have a better chance to secure a podium than today with Valtteri Bottas already out of the race.
Nothing much had happened early in the Eifel Grand Prix but out of nowhere, the drama has erupted.
It started when Williams’ George Russell was shunted by Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, almost flipping the Williams.
It was a spectacular moment but luckily didn’t slam him into the barriers.
But it shredded his tyres and appeared to ruin his suspension.
Then AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat had his front wing knocked off by Red Bull’s Alexander Albon.
The third issue came when polesitter Valtteri Bottas reported “no power”.
“I have no power, no power, it’s like limp home or something! Is there any driver default?” he said over team radio.
He is out of the race and it appears that Daniel Ricciardo could be on track for a potential podium – sitting in seventh behind drivers who haven’t pitted.
Strap yourselves in Australia.
But at lap 23, his Renault teammate Esteban Ocon is out of the race as well with his car just dying.
And two laps later Alexander Albon retired as well – what is going on!
It’s taken almost 10 laps but finally Daniel Ricciardo is into fourth.
But there’s a 17 second gap to the podium as the drivers settle into the race.
Daniel Ricciardo has moved up one position to fifth from the start but that’s about as interesting as it go to start.
While there have been a few moves with the Mercedes’ forcing each other off the track on the first corner but otherwise there wasn’t much to write home about.
Valtteri Bottas is in first ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.
Nico Hulkenberg will take the seat of Racing Point’s Lance Stroll for this week’s Eifel Grand Prix after the Canadian couldn’t “get off the toilet” long enough to race.
Stroll, the son of team owner and billionaire Lawrence Stroll, withdrew from the event meaning Hulkenberg, who replaced Sergio Perez earlier in the season when he was sidelined with COVID-19, came in.
But it was always going to be hard for Hulkenberg, who wasn’t allowed any practice time and had to qualify immediately, qualifying 20th.
It was a big day for Hulkenberg who was having coffee with a friend before Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer called him and said “Hulkenberg, hurry we need you here”.
“I stepped in the car, came here and the rest is history,”Hulkenberg said. “We saw what happened here. You saw what happened now, obviously. A 2.0 return in the moment of a heartbeat.”
Szafnauer said Stroll tested negative for COVID and instead had a stomach bug.
“He doesn’t have the classic COVID-19 symptoms. He just doesn’t feel well in himself,” Szafnauer said.
“He has a bit of an upset stomach. So he was on the toilet the whole time. And he said ‘I’ve just got rid of a lot of fluid and I can’t get off the toilet for long enough to get in a race car’.
“So I don’t know if it’s something he ate or if it’s a tummy bug. He just said ‘I’m just not feeling up to it’.”
But fellow Canadian and 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has slammed Stroll for a stomach bug keeping him out of the car.
“Even if you have a stomach ache or have not eaten for a whole week, you still go racing,” he told Sky Italia.
“If you’re really hungry to make it in Formula 1 , you’re always going to race and not quit.
“So either Lance is really in a lot of pain and pain, which means he has something bad going on, or he simply doesn’t have the absolute will to make it.”