Daniel Ricciardo believes he could have finished in the top five of the Mexico City Grand Prix if it wasn’t for the red flag timing, but took the positives of racing George Russell to the flag.
AlphaTauri was particularly competitive in Mexico and Ricciardo qualified fourth before running fifth for the majority of the race. However, a red flag caused by Kevin Magnussen’s heavy crash led to a restart that led to Ricciardo – who was already on a set of used hard tires – dropping behind Russell and then also lose out to Lando Norris later on, although he nearly re-passed Russell on the final lap.
“I think everything was actually working pretty well,” Ricciardo said. “Honestly the red flag I think hurt us. But I don’t want to say it too selfishly, because there was a big accident, I believe a car failure, so nothing Kevin could do.
“As much as that hurt our race, I would like to think because strategy and everything was looking pretty smooth then, obviously the main thing is he’s OK.
“It obviously bunched everyone up and allowed some cars to use the mediums, which we didn’t have. I think at that point, it was probably a bit more nervous on pit wall, but to still come out with seventh and six points, and nearly eight points – we got very close to George at the end – I think big picture, we have to be very happy.
“I was honestly trying as much as I could. It was a little weird, at the start of the stint, I didn’t feel as good as towards the end. It felt like it took me a little bit to get a rhythm with the tire. Then the last probably 10 laps, I was able to really start pushing harder, and yeah, I think Lando getting George probably hurt George’s tires a little bit, so that brought him back to me.
“It was tough. I probably didn’t expect to get that close. When you’re that close, you’re like ‘ah, we could’ve!’ but he protected well in Turn 4. At one point, I was trying to go on the outside, but I could see we were both going to run off and had to abort mission. He did well, he did well to defend. We tried, but I think ultimately, just to be battling a Mercedes at the end, that makes me more happy than just missing out on sixth.”
While Ricciardo feels more points were on offer without the race interruption, he says the jeopardy of the race starts in Mexico City mean he’s still satisfied to score his first points since returning to AlphaTauri.
“I don’t know if Lando’s pace in that second half of the race was as good as the first half. We were holding Oscar (Piastri) at bay. We had gaps, it felt like at that moment, I was like, ‘this could be a nice, lonely fifth place’, and I was OK with that.
“I definitely think we could have been better than seventh, let’s say that, without the red. That’s racing. On one hand, you could say unlucky, but it can always be worse. The restart we could have had a crash or something, so to still come through, I’m happy.”