‘A strong defence’ was needed says Ricciardo after contact in battle with Sainz at COTA
There were thrilling fights throughout the field in the United States Grand Prix, with Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz playing their part as they went wheel-to-wheel for several laps in the battle for fifth.
Ricciardo got ahead of the Ferrari at the start, having gone three abreast with Sainz and the second McLaren of Lando Norris on the opening lap – but Sainz’s pace improved once he ditched the soft tyres at his first pit stop and the battle resumed.
At one point, they touched, which caused damage to the front wing of Sainz’s Ferrari and saw the Spaniard fall back and ultimately lose a place to Valtteri Bottas to cross the line seventh, while Ricciardo held on to an impressive fifth.
“Carlos was putting pressure on me the entire race, and we actually had a really good battle the first lap,” said Ricciardo. “We actually went back and forth I think three times. I managed to get him and that set up my race and allowed me to fight for fifth so that was really important.
“And then a pretty good battle with him and let’s say a strong defence which I need to do to hold him of because I think realistically if he’d have got me, I’d have fallen back into Bottas and I think he probably would have had a much better chance of getting me as well so fifth could have quickly become seventh. I’m very happy to have got a top-five here in the great city of Austin, Texas.”
Sainz had shown strong pace all weekend, but after getting caught out by the track not improving on second runs in Q2, he was forced to start the race on the soft – which left him a little exposed after the initial benefit at the getaway.
Once he was on the harder compound, the Spaniard showed the kind of pace that matched his team mate Charles Leclerc, who finished fourth, but by then he was too far back, especially having encountered a slow pit stop.
“I was stuck behind Daniel the whole race,” said Sainz. “I tried a couple of moves on him and nearly made it stick and then obviously the slow pitstop that cost us, the undercut of him and we couldn’t make it happen. Yes, a tough one out there.”
Regarding the contact with Ricciardo, with which he was annoyed at the time on team radio, he said: “There was a bit of contact there, he pushed me wide.
"Obviously I was on the outside, so this kind of things’ going to happen and it’s tough – fair, on the limit racing, because obviously he bumped me out – and sometimes it’s a bit too much. If we would have done a good pit stop, we would have undercut him and we wouldn’t have fought him.”