Saturday 18 January 2020

Ricciardo dedicates his 'dream' victory to fallen friend Bianchi

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. Photo: Joshua Paul/AP Photo
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. Photo: Joshua Paul/AP Photo

Daniel Johnson

Daniel Ricciardo paid tribute to Jules Bianchi, who died after an accident at the Japanese Grand Prix two years ago, after his triumph in Malaysia.

Ricciardo beat his team-mate Max Verstappen in a real battle to give Red Bull their first one-two finish for three years and after his now infamous 'shoey' celebration - drinking champagne from a sweaty boot - the Australian was quick to mention the tragic death of Bianchi.

"It was definitely a life-changing moment - the loss of Jules - as a competitor and a friend," said Ricciardo, who had not won a race since Bianchi's death. "That was hard to take. I would have loved to have won sooner, and dedicated this a bit sooner.

"Since that day it definitely changes you as a person for the better. I've become more appreciative of the things I have and the position I am in."

Despite Lewis Hamilton's engine misfortune, the 27-year-old Ricciardo deserved this win, having seen victories slip away in Spain and Monaco through no fault of his own.

Verstappen also impressed in second with his own aggressive but fair style.

Sebastian Vettel was in the wars again from the start yesterday, making Nico Rosberg's drive to third far tougher than he would have hoped.

The Ferrari flew up the inside, in a move reminiscent of China, when Vettel scolded Daniil Kvyat for driving "like a torpedo". He locked his brakes and hit Rosberg, turning his compatriot round. Vettel was out while Rosberg went to dead last.

"I was T-boned by a four-time world champion," Rosberg said angrily. Vettel was handed a three-place grid penalty for Suzuka next weekend.

From there Rosberg drove well to claw back ground, decisive where in the past he has been cautious until he found Kimi Raikkonen on lap 38. Rosberg saw a gap on the inside of turn two and dove for it. Only a bit of bumper cars ensured they both got round. The stewards gave Rosberg a 10-second penalty, but it proved meaningless as he finished 13 seconds clear of Raikkonen in fourth.

Out front, 20 seconds behind Hamilton, the Red Bulls duelled like their lives depended on it. They ran alongside each other for several corners, Ricciardo just keeping his nose in front.

But a battle for second soon become a fight for the lead. On lap 41, approaching turn one, flames came from Hamilton's exhaust.

Red Bull did not call the race off but by pitting both for new tyres at the same time, it gave them some breathing space. Ricciardo finally had cause to celebrate. So, too, did Jolyon Palmer, scoring his first points of the year in 10th. The highs and lows of Formula One. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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