Daniel Ricciardo claims 'bizzare' podium at Imola Grand Prix
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Daniel Ricciardo has pulled off a second podium in three races, finishing third with an incredible drive at Imola.
In a return to the historic track, the race wrapped up a seventh straight constructors’ championship for Mercedes and guaranteed the Silver Arrows would be celebrating an individual world title too, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas the only competitors left in the running for top spot.
Hamilton claimed another victory after staying out for a lot longer on his first set of tyres before a safety car helped him grab first place, while Bottas was second.
Mercedes’ dominance aside, Ricciardo won the battle of the rest.
In the most Ricciardo of celebrations, he said over his team radio: “Holy mac and cheese balls, that’s another f***ing podium.”
It appeared as though Max Verstappen was headed for a second placed finish but just before the final 10 laps, a rear tyre puncture ruled him out of the race.
Ricciardo had moved from fifth into fourth early on as Pierre Gasly had to pull out of the race due to a coolant leak that saw him retire after nine laps.
But the Aussie was pushed back into fifth after Haas’ Kevin Magnussen held up the midfield, allowing Racing Point’s Sergio Perez to move into fourth with fresher tyres than Ricciardo.
Seemingly headed for a fifth-placed finish, Verstappen’s incident was a stroke of luck for the Aussie and he was smiling again when Perez pitted for fresh tyres, dropping back to sixth.
That decision brought Ricciardo back onto the podium and after Verstappen’s issues and Williams’ George Russell crashing, it left five laps of helter skelter racing.
It was actually AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat who put the pressure on Ricciardo, but he was unable to get close enough to his former Red Bull teammate and the Renault driver held on for his podium.
“It was a bizarre one, I got into fourth off the start and I felt that was the best we could do,” Ricciardo said post-race. “But Perez had really good pace and he passed us in the pit sequence and then he pitted for the softs at the end with the safety car.
“We kept our position. I’m not sure what happened to Max but obviously that put us in the fight. Kvyat came out of nowhere at the end but it was fun.
“Two podiums in three races. It all just happened very quickly at the end there, it was fun.”
Ricciardo then lived up to his promise of not forgetting the shoey, celebrating with his trademark drinking ritual along with Lewis Hamilton, who didn’t seem to like it too much.