REDBULL ‘s DANIEL RICCIARDO CLINCHES AZERBAIJAN GP VICTORY.
After starting in 10th and even dropping down to 17th after an early pitstop, a sensational but in the end comfortable Azerbaijan Gp victory was probably the last thing Daniel Ricciardo expected.
There’s a reason the Australian claimed he “would have put all my money” on not ending his Sunday evening on top of the podium.
If there was an ultimate beneficiary from a chaotic and crazy race – it was Ricciardo. But while the ever-smiling Red Bull star was certainly helped by Mercedes and Ferrari’s faulty cars and raging drivers, not to mention his speedy team-mate Max Verstappen’s retirement, he would not have secured his first victory of the season without what was surely the move of the day.
After already executing a double pass on Marcus Ericsson and Carlos Sainz on his way into a point-scoring position, Ricciardo took two Williams and a Renault in an incredible three-car overtake on Lap 25 following the final Safety Car restart, which lifted him up to third and behind the yet-to-be penalised nor troubled championship leaders.
“That was, in a way, the winning move,” admitted Ricciardo. A Red Bull holding off a Williams is no sure thing these days but the 28-year-old displayed his increasing maturity and kept his nerve in the trouble-free closing laps.
Ricciardo crashed out in qualifying and was seemingly off the pace set by his younger team-mate in the sister RB13 all weekend, but will that matter to him? No way. This may not go down as one of his best performances, but it could be his sweetest victory
Incredibly, Valtteri Bottas pulled off an even greater recovery than Ricciardo. The Mercedes driver was last after contact with Kimi Raikkonen at Turn Two on the opening lap and a lap down by the time he had rejoined the field after a pit stop to replace his front wing and punctured tyre.
But the three Safety Cars allowed Bottas to first unlap himself and then be in a position to fight his way through the field. And the Finn showed why you should never give up as he astonishingly passed Lance Stroll right on the line to claim second place by just a tenth of a second.
“A completely crazy race,” was how Bottas summed up his afternoon. And crucially for him and Mercedes, Bottas is quickly developing a habit of bringing home big points when team-mate Lewis Hamilton hits misfortune.
Maluki Bernard / writer