While he enjoyed racing wheel-to-wheel with his teammate Max Verstappen, Malaysian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo admits they were on the limit in the latter stages of the race.
Before Lewis Hamilton’s engine blew up, both Ricciardo and Verstappen were scuffling for second position as the Australian was attempting to fend off his younger teammate who was on fresher tyres.
While racing your teammate is always a risky venture, especially when both drivers are in a podium position, Ricciardo was confident that they wouldn’t have a coming together.
“Sure it was close,” Ricciardo said. “It felt like it was on the edge, but at the same time I didn’t at one point think ‘Okay, we are going to crash here.’
“I think we are both in control. So it was fun. At that point did I think it would be for the win? Probably not. But I was obviously going to hang on as long as I could.”
At this point in the race it was unclear what Red Bull Racing was going to do with Ricciardo, given his tyres were older than Verstappen’s, leaving the Australian to defend from the quicker Dutchman.
“I thought by Turn 5 he will probably already be in front of me and probably just cut in front. But he was still there, and I was like, ‘Oh, I am still in this!’
“So I just drove into Turn 5 deep, just enough to not let him take my line away. So he saw me in the mirrors and meant that he had to stay wide. Once I was still there, I was like, ‘Keep going’. I remember pretty much at the apex of Turn 5 – normally we were taking it in sixth gear – I remember at the apex just smashing it down to fifth [gear] just to try and get off the corner.
“Obviously we went in a bit slower, just to try get off the corner. I remember the revs going up to get down into fifth, and it was sort of like the revs in the engine made me get quite excited. And I was like ‘Okay, I am going to try and hang on to this as long as I can’.”
Once Hamilton retired from the lead of the race, his stricken Mercedes brought out a Virtual Safety Car, which allowed Red Bull Racing to pit Ricciardo along with Verstappen, leaving both drivers on a new set of tyres for the remaining 16 laps.
Image via Red Bull Content Pool