Ricciardo third again as Mercedes clinch title

Monday 02 November, 2020
Photo: Renault F1 Media
Daniel Ricciardo has claimed his second Renault podium in three races after a chaotic finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, as Lewis Hamilton's 93rd career race victory helped Mercedes win a historic title. 
Having started in P5 after a strong qualifying session, Ricciardo finished the race in third place behind Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas as the Mercedes duo’s results saw the German manufacturer win a record seventh consecutive Formula 1 Constructors title.
For Ricciardo, the Motorsport Australia ambassador had a brilliant start to the race, jumping Pierre Gasly off the line to slot into fourth where he stayed for much of the opening half. 
As Ricciardo spent the first half locked in tight battle with Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon, the trio were then held up in by slower cars, allowing Sergio Perez to slot into fourth place after all opening stops were completed.
However as the race turned on its head towards the final 10 laps as a result of Max Verstappen’s shock puncture, an extended safety car period saw Racing Point roll the dice to pit Perez, leaving Ricciardo behind the Mercedes and ahead of the rest of the field on old tyres with just five laps remaining.

Surprisingly, it was Daniil Kvyat on the fresher tyres who proved to be Australian's biggest threat after a frantic restart, but as Ricciardo has done on so many occasions throughout his career, the cool-headed 31-year-old held off the late challenge and crossed the line third.

“It was a bizarre one. I got into fourth off the start. I thought it was the best we can do with the three in front,” Ricciardo said post-race.
“But Perez had really good pace. He passed us during the pit sequence and pitted for softs at the end with the safety car. We obviously kept track position. Not sure what happened to Max but that put us in the fight.

“Kvyat came out of nowhere in the last few laps but that was fun. It all happened really quickly in the end there, it was good fun.”

While it was another memorable 2020 outing for Ricciardo, the day belonged to the dominant Mercedes who made history with title number seven thanks to another dominant performance. 

Despite Hamilton crossing the chequered flag ahead of Bottas, the latter would consider himself unlucky after taking an early lead, only to have Hamilton make the most of a perfectly timed Virtual Safety Car period to claim P1.
Hamilton’s win means seventh F1 title could be secured as early as next race, depending on results.
"It was an exhausting race,” Hamilton said.
“The speed we were having to go after a poor start. It is very overwhelming right now. I look at my crew and I know all the men and women here and back in the factory and they are the unsung heroes."
The Formula 1 Championship returns in two weeks with the Turkish Grand Prix on 15 November.
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