F1: Hamilton wins, but Ricciardo steals the show at drama-filled Belgian GP
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Lewis Hamilton has claimed yet another win ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen but Aussie Daniel Ricciardo has snatched an all-important extra point with the fastest lap despite finishing fourth.
Ricciardo was fighting all the way to the end, making up huge ground over the final few laps, cutting the deficit to the podium from 15 seconds with five laps remaining, to just three and a half seconds to Max Verstappen.
As the drivers ahead of him complained about tyre issues, Ricciardo appeared to get stronger towards the end of the race, pulling off the fastest lap of the race in the final lap and earning an extra point in the drivers’ championship.
It’s the first time Ricciardo claimed the fastest lap since the 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix.
It was a great day for Renault with Ricciardo’s teammate Esteban Ocon finishing fifth. With 23 points on the day, it was the most points Renault had ever made as a constructor in a race and it was the first time Renault had a fastest lap since Robert Kubica in Monteal in 2010.
Maybe a bit of frustration or what could have been with some more laps, Ricciardo was in good spirits after crossing the line.
“Ha ha ha ha, I was f***ing pushing,” he said over team radio. “I f***ing sent that last lap.”
Ricciardo was a nagging presence all race for the leaders, having a first lap tangle with Verstappen as both drivers sent each other wide after driving wheel-to-wheel.
He then made it uncomfortable for the Mercedes’ and Verstappen late, with all three complaining of the issues with their tyres.
In fact, Hamilton lost grip going through the final corner with seven laps remaining and Valtteri Bottas did the same with five laps remaining.
Ricciardo also finished the strongest, despite doing a one-stop during the safety car during the crash between Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Williams’ George Russell on the 11th lap.
Giovinazzi lost control and crashed into the wall, before sliding across the track with his wheel flying off and hitting Williams’ George Russell with both men taken out of the race.
Both men walked away from the incident.
Sky Sports commentator David Croft added that Ricciardo was unlucky the race wasn’t another two laps as it may have been all he needed to get on the podium.
However, it was still a great day for Ricciardo, even dropping in on McLaren driver Lando Norris’ Sky Sports interview.
As it probably breached the social distancing protocols, the Sky Sports moved Norris on, with Ricciardo saying “Let me have today, let me have this moment” as his future McLaren teammate dismounted the interview stage.
Karun Chandhok said: “You guys are going to hug it out next year.”
Ricciardo added: “We’ll probably hate each other after Melbourne.”
Sky’s Simon Lazenby said it was so close for Ricciardo to take a shot at third, with talk immediately going to the bet Ricciardo and Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul have that if the Aussie gets a podium, his boss will have to get a tattoo.
“I feel our podium this year, if it happens, when it happens, is going to be overshadowed by a tattoo,” he said. “We’re going to be spraying champagne and it’ll all be about a tattoo.”
Chandhok said with fast track Monza coming up next week and the Renault performance at Spa, Ricciardo might need to look out for a tattoo artist in Milan.
“We had a lot of pace,” he said. “I got a little bit frustrated by Gasly and Perez’ stategy (they stayed out on the safety car), it put a buffer between Max and myself on the restart so without that, I genuinely think we could have stayed with him on the hards. Whether we could have passed I don’t know but we could have had a much better chance.
“I honestly felt the pin was out as soon as I passed Gasly. I wasn’t really leaving anything on the table, then the last lap I put everything into it but that wasn’t sustainable to hit those laps for much longer so I feel I used everything.”
Speaking about the early battle with Verstappen, Ricciardo didn’t hold back, putting the pressure on his former teammate.
“I was trying to overtake and if he passed me later than so being but it wasn’t worth putting myself out in the first few corners,” he said. “I was there and I was trying but keeping that one per cent of maturity and discipline in me.”
Post-race, Verstappen wasn’t happy and said “it was pretty boring”.
“There wasn’t much to do. I couldn’t really keep up with the Mercedes,” he said. “It was not really enjoyable out there today.”
Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle asked Verstappen about how annoying Ricciardo had been throughout the race with the Dutchman unable to open a 20 second gap to maintain his position with a pit stop.
“I wasn’t sure with their top speed if it would be easy to pass, so we’ll just stay out,” he said. “I think was was very close to a puncture.”