It was a good weekend for Australians on the international stage, with a number of podiums and points accumulated across multiple championships.
Ricciardo so close to Renault podium
It was another chaotic race in Italy overnight as Motorsport Australia ambassador Daniel Ricciardo came closer than ever to grabbing his first F1 podium since joining Renault in 2018.
Just 12 drivers managed to finish the first ever Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello Circuit and only Mercedes and Ferrari had both drivers cross the finish line, as Lewis Hamilton took out his sixth win for 2020 ahead of teammate Valterri Bottas.
Surviving the hectic start, which saw the first nine laps run under a safety car and a red flag as a result of two separate accidents involving multiple cars, Ricciardo’s lighting start and impressive overtakes saw him move into fourth place when the race eventually got restarted.
A swift undercut from Renault and allowed the West Australian to move into third place where he built a solid gap and looked confident of a podium finish until Lance Stroll suffered a puncture at high speed and slammed into a barrier drawing a second red flag and another standing restart.
On that restart, Ricciardo got into second but couldn’t hold on as Bottas made light work of the less powerful Renault, before Red Bull’s Alex Albon eventually got past the Aussie to secure his first career podium in F1, leaving Ricciardo to settle for his third fourth place of the season.
“I’m really happy with today’s race and we’re so close to the podium again,” Ricciardo said.
“It was a long day, a long race with the stoppages and incidents, but the main thing is that all the drivers are okay. It looked like we were on for third towards the end of the race, so it’s a shame to come so close.
“We can’t get any closer than that and we’ll keep pushing. Our starts were good, we got Valtteri [Bottas], but he and Alex [Albon] were just too quick to hold on. It hurts not to be on the podium after that, but fourth is still a big result today.”
The FIA Formula 1 Championship now has a small break before heading to Sochi Autodrom for the Russian Grand Prix on 27 September.
Photo: Renault F1 Media
Piastri wins F3 title
The FIA Formula 3 Championship has come to a close and after a nail-biting final race on Sunday, Victorian Oscar Piastri claimed the outright championship – his second junior development title in as many years.
Piastri had it all to do over the round’s two races after he was handed a five place grid penalty last weekend and after qualifying in P11, he wasn’t able to break into the top 10 in Saturday’s race as title rivals Logan Sargeant and Theo Pourchaire both got valuable points and bridged the gap to the Melburnian.
Fortunately for Piastri, Sunday’s final race played into his favour as Sargeant retired on the first lap and Pourchaire was unable to get into the top two, allowing Piastri to hold onto the championship by three points after finishing seventh.
For the other three Australians competing in the Championship, Jack Doohan came close to picking up his first points for the year, however just missed out in both races as he finished the weekend with P13 and P11.
A fifth in the second race to Richard Verschoor helped the Dutchman replace Alex Peroni to ninth place in the standings after the Tasmanian was unable to gather any points during the weekend – his 13th on Sunday a little better than Saturday’s 20th.
Like Doohan, Calan Williams finished the year without registering any championship points and had a difficult final weekend in Italy as he was only able to finish P19 and P21 in both races.
Photo: Dutch Photo Agency
Power back on IndyCar winners list
Will Power has broken his 2020 NTT IndyCar Series win drought after taking out Saturday’s Honda Indy 200 race at Mid-Ohio.
The 39-year old put on a flawless performance throughout the race to convert his 60th career IndyCar pole into victory after finishing on the podium five times this year.
“This is the first race in about 10 years where I just decided to go hard,” Power said post-race.
“No worry about fuel. We pushed hard the entire way, went flat out. We won the race so it was a great strategy.”
Power was unable to replicate the result in Sunday’s race, however he still showed the same tenacity as he moved up 10 places during the race’s 75 laps to finish P7.
Power returns to action next month with two races as part of the IndyCar Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 2-3 October.
Back to the Podium for Shields
It’s been a solid outing for Cameron Shields in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship with the Australian claiming a podium placing during the three races at Mid-Ohio.
Throughout the 2020 season, Shields has picked up a number of top 10 finishes and the Queenslander was in form again over the weekend, starting off with a sixth place in the round’s opening race.
Qualifying in third for the second race, Shields was good enough to hold onto his position and grab the final step of the podium for the first time in 2020, before clinching a top five finish in the round’s final race.
Shields is back in action next month with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship to race at New Jersey Motorsports Park on 9-11 October.
O'Keefe solid in international TCR debut
Victorian Dylan O'Keefe has enjoyed an impressive FIA World Touring Car Cup debut after finishing 12th and 13th in the series' season opener in Belgium.
Running in the Vuković Motorsport prepared Renault Mégane R.S TCR as a wild card entry, the 22-year-old was up against some of the best TCR drivers in the world, including Argentine Nestor Girolami who competed as part of the carsales TCR Australia Series at Sandown last year.
Like he did at Sandown, Girolami comfortbly won the opening race whereas O'Keefe was locked in an intense battle with German racer Luca Engstler for 12th but just lost it.
O'Keefe went much better in the next race and avoided some serious collisions in the opening laps, eventually crossing the line in 12th place overall.