Daniel Ricciardo has lamented the timing of the Safety Car during the British Grand Prix which caused him to get stuck behind one McLaren after already undercutting the other.
Ricciardo finished seventh at Silverstone, the same position from which he started the 52-lap race, although his afternoon was far from straightforward.
The Renault driver lost a spot to Lando Norris at Maggotts in a big opening lap battle, but re-passed that McLaren by taking a slightly earlier first pit stop.
He was therefore an effective seventh until Antonio Giovinazzi beached his Alfa Romeo and drew the Safety Car on Lap 20, handing a free pit stop to not only eventual race winner Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, but also Carlos Sainz in the other McLaren.
Ricciardo was called in to make a second pit stop under the Safety Car, completing a switch of tyre compounds by taking on hards, and lined up in 11th for the restart.
He made quick work of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg when the field was let loose again, also quickly passed Alexander Albon, and inherited another spot when Norris did have to pit a second time from just in front of him.
Ricciardo also caught a break when Vettel shunted Max Verstappen on Lap 37, which effectively removed the Ferrari from in front of him, but found the sixth-placed Sainz impossible to pass in the final laps of the race.
“It was hard but in the end frustrating because I was there, I was there, I was putting pressure, but I never got close enough,” said Ricciardo of trying to get by the McLaren.
“There were sometimes, just before braking, my nose would get there, but with the way that some of the corners like Turn 6 or Turn 15 (are), you carry so much speed in, that it was not like I could really brake later; unless I was alongside, I was not going to get the move done, because you brake so late into the corner.
“Certainly, I think the big winner was Carlos; with the Safety Car he got a free pit stop on everyone, so he benefited from that.
“At the end I was catching him, catching him, in his DRS for 10 laps or something, but just never close enough there. They’re quite strong off the corner, through the high-speed (sections).”
Hulkenberg finished 10th, making for Renault’s second double-points finish of the season, just a race after neither of its drivers could make the top 10.
After Ricciardo spoke positively of the turnaround from the Austrian Grand Prix a fortnight earlier, with both the yellow cars making Q3 in Britain, team principal Cyril Abiteboul picked up on the theme post-race.
“Overall we can be satisfied with today’s result of having both cars inside the top 10,” he declared.
“However, we know that higher finishing positions were possible. Firstly, with Daniel, without the intervention of the Safety Car, but our reaction to pit him was the right one after a perfect execution of an undercut earlier in the race.
“Secondly, while Nico drove an excellent race to make the hards last to the end, we could have stopped him earlier as he ran out of tyres before Daniel. He still deserves a lot of credit for taking the final point in adverse circumstances.
“But overall, at a power dominated track, in qualifying like in race, our competitiveness level has been stronger, even if the areas of weakness are still here and will be our focus for the coming weeks.”
Ricciardo is now 10th in the drivers’ championship on 22 points, five points and a position ahead of Hulkenberg, while Renault remains fifth in the constructors’ standings, albeit at a slightly enlarged 21-point deficit to McLaren.