Ricciardo relishes ‘important’ podium
Daniel Ricciardo declared his third place finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix an ‘important’ podium following a run of indifferent form.
The Red Bull driver produced a faultless weekend which culminated in an impressive drive to claim his second podium of the season.
The Australian finished behind the Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Ricciardo headed into the weekend having been out-performed by his younger team-mate Max Verstappen in the previous two races.
However, the 27-year-old issued a perfect response in Hungary by overshadowing his opposite number in both qualifying and Sunday’s race.
Verstappen finished fifth after struggling for car speed for the majority of the race.
Ricciardo admits the result is a much needed boost after being frustrated on several occasions this season, highlighted by missed victory opportunities at Spain and Monaco.
“For me personally I needed a good Sunday,” said Ricciardo, who has finished fourth in five races this season.
“From Barcelona and then Monaco it felt like I wasn’t leaving the race weekend satisfied, so it was just important to put a perfect weekend on from my side, which has translated into a podium.
“The third place is the icing on the cake but the most important thing was to finish the race with a smile.
“The last five races I didn’t feel like we maximised it so the big satisfaction is we did that.
“Obviously the first podium of the season (a second place at Monaco) was a bit bittersweet, but this is one that I can definitely enjoy. For sure, the smile is back and I’m super-happy to be here.
“It’s three years in a row that I’ve been on the podium at this circuit, so it’s been good to me.
“We (Red Bull) are continually getting better, which is great.”
Ricciardo challenged the Mercedes’ of Hamilton and Rosberg at the start which saw him briefly hold second before losing out to the latter on the opening lap.
In the end, he finished almost half a minute behind the Mercedes duo despite catching the pair during a strong middle stint.
“I was really surprised (at Mercedes’ pace). At the start of the second stint we seemed really quick and we were catching the Mercedes drivers,” he added.
“Once we pitted it sounded like they turned it up so unfortunately they (Mercedes) were probably playing games.”
Ricciardo’s podium has seen him leap up to third in the championship standings ahead of next weekend’s German Grand Prix.