Daniel Ricciardo secured third place in this year’s drivers’ world championship after being classified as finishing third in the final result of Sunday’s turbulent Mexican Grand Prix.
The Australian driver was fifth on track at the end of the race in his Red Bull but after a detailed stewards’ investigation into several fiery incidents in the closing laps at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez he was promoted to third.
Defending three-time world champion Briton Lewis Hamilton won the race ahead of his Mercedes team-mate German Nico Rosberg to claim his 51st career victory and keep alive his title defence. Rosberg now leads by 19 points with two races remaining and can take his maiden title if he wins in Brazil on November 13.
Ricciardo said: “Obviously I’m happy to get the points and I think that means third for me in the drivers’ championship so I’m quite proud of that this year.
“Sure it would have been nice to get up on the podium and enjoy it, but none the less that was the situation today. It was a fun race!
“Even though I was quite frustrated afterwards with the incident and all that, I still had a lot of fun with that battle.
“And being the hunter at the end is so much more fun than driving around by yourself. The race came alive and obviously it became a bit spicy, but it was a cool day.
“Sure I want to race and having penalties after the race isn’t ideal, but I did feel today that it was called for.
“I committed to the move (to pass Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari on the penultimate lap) and he squeezed me. Racing should be tough and l don’t expect being waved through, but we talked about the moving under braking and that’s on paper now.
“The only thing I’m disappointed about is not to be in the stadium in that moment, but the podium is still up so I’ll go and have a few photos with the guys!”
Earlier, it was a very different Ricciardo who raged at the injustice when it seemed Vettel had taken third thanks to a five-seconds penalty dished out to Max Verstappen, in the second Red Bull, for gaining advantage when he went off in his duel with Vettel at Turn One.
“He (Vettel) is smiling now,” he told reporters. “But he doesn’t deserve to be up there (on the podium). I thought I had every right to to be there, but he kept closing the door under braking… I was frustrated with that.”
Vettel, who finished fourth on track between the two Red Bulls, ended up classified fifth. Having been held up by Verstappen, who stayed in front despite his off-track rush at Turn One, he blocked Ricciardo at Turn Four on lap 70.
The stewards lifted him to a podium finish by penalising the Dutch teenager and then demoted him, later and after the ceremonies were over, to fifth with his own penalty.
Vettel was also awarded two penalty points.
Verstappen said: “When I went off the track towards the end I think it was pretty similar to Lewis on lap one, corner one.
“He went off and I felt he gained an advantage, but I didn’t even gain an advantage… I was ahead going into braking and when I came back on the track I was the same distance in front so I don’t understand the penalty.
“I think it was a small bit of justice that the stewards made the decision to penalise Seb. It was clearly a wrong move, which has been punished according to the rules.”
Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said: “I’m glad to see the stewards made the right decision – it’s an interesting end to the Mexican Grand Prix, but not one that anyone really wants to see.
“Daniel deserves third place in the drivers championship as he has had an excellent season. Both he and Max have driven brilliantly and pushed each other and raised the bar.”