Ricciardo scores points in brilliant Baku
Monday 07 June, 2021
Photo: McLaren Media
Daniel Ricciardo has completed a solid day in Baku as he salvaged some important points during a rollercoaster Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
After crashing during Saturday’s second qualifying session and starting the sixth race of the 2021 Formula 1 season in P13, Ricciardo managed to make up some ground to finish the race in ninth place.
While he showed far more pace than a forgettable Monaco Grand Prix last month, the West Australian was slightly lucky to end the race within the points as a number of interruptions allowed him to gain positions throughout the 51 lap race.
Ricciardo had an opportunity to pick up even more places late in the race but some contact from Antonio Giovanazzi prevented him from a final push – the McLaren driver eventually settling for P9.
“We had some positive moments, but also a few difficult periods," Ricciardo said post-race.
"I flat-spotted the hard a bit, so that became tricky for the last few laps before the red flag, but not too bad beforehand.
"The last start, I felt like I got a good launch, and had a good run on the outside but there wasn’t really much room with a couple of cars on the inside. It just all bottlenecked into Turn 2 and I felt a hit from behind. I couldn’t really do much, but we’ll keep working on our plan and keep moving forward."
That contact came after one the most dramatic moments in the race as Ricciardo’s former Red Bull teammate Max Vertstappen’s left rear tyre failed with just five laps to go, causing the race leader to hit the wall hard.
The crash resulted in a late red flag, which eventually set up a thrilling two-lap dash. With the race to resume from a standing start, Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez started in P1 and on the front row alongside Lewis Hamilton.
Although Hamilton initially got the better start, there was to be one late twist in the exciting race as the Brit then locked up ahead of turn one and found himself at the back of the field.
Hamilton’s error allowed Perez a clear path to storm to his second career race win and his first for Red Bull after switching over from Aston Martin (formally Racing Point) at the end of last year.
Remarkably, the driver who replaced the Mexican at Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel, finished in second place, picking up the team's best ever result as a constructor, while Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly finished on the podium for the first time this year.
Hamilton’s lockup also had some implications for the Championship – the reigning champion unable to capitalise on Verstappen's DNF as neither driver scored points.
Although Ricciardo managed to score two points, Vettel and Gasly’s results saw them both overtake the Aussie on the standings – Ricciardo dropping to 10th behind Gasly in eighth and Vettel in ninth.
The FIA Formula 1 Championship heads to the famous Circuit Paul Ricard in two weeks for the French Grand Prix on 18 June.