At the legendary circuit of Spa Daniel Ricciardo has led his team mate Esteban Ocon to Renault’s biggest single race score since the team came back in the sport in 2016.
P4 and P5 at the checkered flag, plus the fastest lap of the race, mean 23 championship points in the bag for the French constructor.
Daniel Ricciardo is delighted with almost the entirety of his performance at the 2020 Belgian GP: “We had a lot of pace, more so on the hard [tyre, in the second stint]”.
First, when the lights went out, the Australian managed to briefly snap the third position from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen: “The first lap was fun with Max, we were close. I was ahead and then he got ahead and we were side-by-side for a few corners. But then he and Mercedes pulled away on the soft, as we expected”.
In the closing stages of the race, Ricciardo managed to hunt Verstappen down again, gaining seconds per lap on the Dutchman, who was trying to handle tyre degradation.
The final result may therefore have been different, if it wasn’t for the Safety Car restart in the opening laps: “The safety car put a gap between myself and Max with Gasly and Perez choosing to stay out. So by the time I got past them the leaders were gone. I mean, it would have made it more interesting if I had the restart behind Max, but anyways, fourth is good.”
Fourth place is indeed a strong result for the Honey Badger, who also managed to break a 10 years long curse: on the very last lap of the race, Ricciardo set the fastest lap of the Grand Prix. The last time a Renault driver was able to achieve that was dated back to the 2010 Canadian GP and there was Robert Kubica at the wheel.
“My engineer told me the current fastest lap with a lap to go, and it was about half a second quicker than what I’d done,” said Ricciardo. “And I wasn’t really wasting too much time but I thought I’d put a proper qualifying lap in, used all of the track everywhere and it was a big lap – probably better than my qualifying lap yesterday!”
Now all the focus is towards next week’s Italian Grand Prix, and Daniel Ricciardo can now feel reasonably confident: “Spa was a good track for us last year, but Monza was even better so we’ll see. We’ll try not to get ahead of ourselves, but I think we can go there with a lot of confidence.”
So how 'bout stealing the Fastest Lap right at the end, @danielricciardo?— Formula 1 (@F1) August 30, 2020
"Yeah, I ****** sent that last lap" 🎧 😆
And a P4 finish as well for a happy Honey Badger #BelgianGP 🇧🇪 #F1 pic.twitter.com/o4EmCCcTnr