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Changing conditions saw Daniel Ricciardo cling onto fourth in Russia

27/09/21

A late gamble paid off for some, and not for others.

Late in the race, McLaren's split strategic decision saw Daniel Ricciardo hold onto fourth place, whilst teammate Lando Norris fell from a near-certain victory to seventh at the Russian Grand Prix.

Wet track conditions dominated discussions at the Russian GP, with several of the F2 and F3 races being delayed and cancelled. There was no running of FP3 on Saturday, with F1® Qualifying being the priority. Challenging conditions mixed up the results, with Ricciardo finishing fifth fastest and starting on the third row of the grid.


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Ricciardo had a solid start off the line pulling up alongside George Russell before getting caught out of the slip-stream and had to watch others go past. After avoiding the chaos, the Aussie found himself in seventh place. However, it wasn't long before he overtook Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to regain his starting position.

The pressure remained on Ricciardo, with Hamilton determined to get by and work towards chasing those at the front. The Brit and Aussie battled lap after lap with a DRS train formed.

On lap 23, Ricciardo was called to box to change his tyres to the hard compound. However, a slow eight-second pit stop saw him come out in traffic behind Esteban Ocon in 13th place.

Rain began to fall on lap 46 (of 53), with teams discussing whether they should change tyres to intermediates. Ricciardo eventually came into the pits on lap 49, with chaos beginning on the race track.

Norris was left in a difficult position – to risk it and remain out on track with slicks or to come in to pit and switch to intermediates and give up his win. The young driver decided to stay out; however, the rain only got worse, and his lead was lost as he struggled to keep the McLaren on the track.

Hamilton took the lead on lap 51 and went on to win the race, with Max Verstappen making up 19-places in the race to finish second and Carlos Sainz finishing in third. Ricciardo was able to recover and finish just outside of the podium in fourth place.

"Pretty eventful race," Ricciardo said after the race.

"Sometimes this track doesn't provide that, but this weekend it did with both quali and the race. There was a lot that happened. I think my start was kinda too good!

"I had to pull out and then pull back in, so we lost a few positions there, but then made a few back over the first lap. So, there were some good moments. I defended pretty well in the first stint, then in the second stint made a few good passes, but then struggled towards the end of that Hard tyre.

"Then the rain came, and that's when it all turned on its head. The in-lap was sketchy. I think Carlos [Sainz] went off in Turn Seven, then me, then Max [Verstappen]. I think Max saw both of us and just went off less and was able to pass there.

Then we got out on the Inters and I could see Carlos ahead – the last couple of laps I felt like I was bringing him in a bit, but it was a little too late.

I just missed the podium, but P4 is a solid result. Good points and, I think, for those tricky conditions, it's always nice just to get out with your nose clean. There are definitely some positives and personally still a few things to work on, so we'll keep our head down."

Hamilton re-took the lead in the Championships, with Verstappen's damage limitation drive working well. Verstappen is two points behind and Valtteri Bottas rounds out the top three with 151 points.

Round 16 of the season moves to Turkey on October 8-10.