Ricciardo all smiles as he secures a popular first win
Daniel Ricciardo scored a hugely popular maiden GP victory in Canada, and while it took a little bad luck for Mercedes to make it happen, the Aussie had to be there to take advantage.
Crucially he got ahead of team mate Sebastian Vettel during the final stops, and then passed Sergio Perez with four laps to go. Two laps after that, he was able to blast past the Mercedes of a struggling Nico Rosberg to claim the lead and the win.
“It’s not that we were leading the whole race,” said Ricciardo. “So it’s not that I had time to understand that I was going to win, it all happened in the last few laps, so I think that’s why it’s still taking a while to comprehend in my head. But really nice, a really good feeling. The race came to life at the end. Mercedes had their issues and it enable us to close on them. We had a good fight with Perez and we were really struggling to pass them.
“They had, as we know, a really strong car down the straight and it was doing a good job through the corners as well to keep me behind. But then out of the last chicane I got a really good run on him and made the move stick in turns one and two. I was close to overshooting it, dropped a couple of wheels in the grass but it was fine and then Nico in the closing stages. Really, really nice. I wasn’t sure if the two drivers on the last lap were OK, so I just wanted to make sure they were cool before we got celebrating, but I believe they’re fine so really, really happy with the result.”
Rosberg relieved to hold onto second place
Nico Rosberg may have lost a potential race victory in Canada, but the German made it clear that he was happy to bring home 18 points for second place on a day when teammate Lewis Hamilton failed to score.
Both men suffered similar overheating issues with their MGU-K units, but Hamilton’s became more critical, which led to his retirement. Rosberg managed to keep going and ultimately lost only one place.
“What happened was that I lost the ERS, and when you lose ERS then it doesn’t harvest anymore, and then all the braking on the rear is being done by the brakes and then the rear brakes overheated. So it was one problem and then the next problem happened. That just made it massively difficult. I needed to cool the brakes a lot, I lost a lot of power on the straights. At the same time, taking those things into consideration, I was just pushing flat out, qualifying laps, one after another and managing to stay ahead of that pack behind me until two laps from the end. From that point of view it was a very good result and lots of points.”
Rosberg admitted it had been a tough afternoon, but was relieved to have held on to second.
“I saw this huge train of cars behind me and I was pleased that I was managing to stay ahead and OK, one guy got by but I still managed to hold on. But then in hindsight, of course, having lost the win, that’s very, very disappointing, definitely, and also disappointing for us as a team. We have such speed and such a great car, to not win the race and even just finish with one car and come second is hugely disappointing for us, definitely.
“It was a very, very difficult day out there today and then to come home second – and I didn’t even know that I was second, I only found out afterwards – so that was positive. And extended the Championship lead, which is important, of course, and yes, we are fully aware that Red Bull is still an amazingly strong team and pushing like crazy to catch us.”
Rosberg/Hamilton fight still wide open, says Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Lewis Hamilton’s Canadian retirement had not necessarily handed a crucial championship advantage to Nico Rosberg, given the length of the season.
Rosberg gained 18 points on his rival by salvaging second place in Montreal.
“I wouldn’t say that,” said Wolff when asked if the odds were against Hamilton. “How many races are we in the season now, seven? So we are having another 13, with double points! So we have 13 races left. First of all we have to be careful in saying that it’s an easy home run for us, because you can see they have scored massive points – Red Bull today – and you can lose that gap really quickly. But I guess between the two of them it’s going to come back to an end of season with double points.”
Regarding Hamilton’s frustrating day, he said: “We’re just sorry to have let Lewis down, and it’s a shame, particularly when the championship is as close as it is. But he’s in good spirits and he’s a fighter and I have no doubt that he will come back.
“As for Nico he deserved to take those points, because he had a car which was heavily handicapped against all others. He managed to pull out a mega first sector where the power loss was not as bad as obviously the back straight, and he deserves to have that second place.”
Canada win great motivation for team, says Horner
Christian Horner says that the Canadian GP win is a big boost for both Red Bull and Renault, but stresses that the gap to Mercedes remains huge.
“Let’s not beat about the bush, Mercedes were the quickest car today,” said Horner. “They ran into their issues, whatever they were. We’ve had issues at other points in the season. They were very, very strong here this weekend. We’ve still got a lot to do. I think we were 12-15km/h slower compared to a Force India or a Williams on the straight, and that’s where we need to improve. It’s great motivation for Renault to get a double podium here, to get the first win of the year. It’s a fantastic performance.”
Horner agreed that the team has made progress, even if it still lags behind its main rival.
“If you think where we were three months ago, it’s an enormous effort by all the team in Milton Keynes, all the team in Viry, everybody doing their bit to get us into a position to not only win the race but have two cars on the podium.
“You guys were asking at one point can Mercedes win all the races? I think I said theoretically they could, and in all probability they wouldn’t. What we’ve managed to do is to keep chipping away, we’ve managed to improve the car, managed to improve the engine, and we were there to capitalize on the misfortune of Mercedes today. We’ve got to keep pushing and keep closing that gap down, because it’s still significant.”
Horner was full of praise for Ricciardo: “The way he’s driven, the way he’s made his passing moves when he’s needed to this year, he’s driven faultlessly all season. He’s grabbed his opportunity today and I’m delighted for him that he’s won his first Grand Prix. It’s a wonderful feeling for any driver. It was nice to have Sebastian up on the podium to enjoy it with him, and it’s a very special day in his life and career. It will probably take a day or two to sink in.”