‘He forced us both off the track’ – Ricciardo frustrated with Stroll move as race ‘falls apart’ in last two laps
Daniel Ricciardo was just two laps from securing a fine sixth place finish in the Styrian Grand Prix when a late lunge from the Racing Point of Lance Stroll caused his race to “fall apart”, in Ricciardo’s words, as he eventually finished behind the Canadian and the McLaren of Lando Norris.
Ricciardo had been powerless to stop Stroll’s team mate Sergio Perez breezing past him on Lap 49, but had had the upper hand over Stroll’s Racing Point, appearing to be able to hold the Canadian behind him. That was until, with two laps to go, Stroll launched an attack on Ricciardo going into Turn 3, forcing both drivers off the track, and allowing Lando Norris to sneak past Ricciardo as he recovered onto the track.
And with Norris going on to pass both Racing Points on the final lap as Ricciardo was left to come home eighth, the Australian couldn’t hide his disdain for Stroll’s move when he faced the media.
“He didn’t really get past, he forced both of us off the track,” said Ricciardo after the race. “I’ll be critical of myself – I should have closed the door – but I don’t think he was ever making the move. So I think it was desperate. Obviously Lando was coming, and I think he had to do something or Lando would eat him up. But I take the apex and we crash. Just a frustrating end.”
The Stroll/Ricciardo incident was investigated after the race, with the stewards quickly issuing a judgement of ‘no further action’ – with Stroll going on to explain how he’d viewed the move.
“I spent the whole second stint trying to get a good run on him but he was very strong into Turn 1 and out of Turn 1 and that made it very challenging for me to get by,” he said.
“Finally into the [penultimate] lap I saw an opportunity. There was a very small gap and I went for it, you know, and it turned out to be a very hectic last lap but very exciting race for everyone.”
Stroll’s words will be of little comfort to Ricciardo, who’d spoken optimistically of his chances of at least being handed back the seventh place he felt was rightfully his before the stewards’ verdict was delivered.
“It’s kind of a shame to end a race like that,” said Ricciardo. “I thought we were doing well to hold off Lance, but then obviously with two laps to go it fell apart a bit… [Then] we obviously lost the place to Lando, so it’s a little bit bittersweet.”
Renault’s drivers ended up suffering a mirror image of their results from last week, with Ricciardo finishing P8 – as Esteban Ocon did on his F1 return at the Austrian Grand Prix seven days ago – while Ocon was retired as a precaution with overheating issues, the same issue that ruled Ricciardo out of last week’s race.
Meanwhile, in a final twist to the tail, Renault went on to issue a protest against the legality of Racing Point's RP20 car going into Sunday evening, with Renault writing on Twitter: "We confirm that Renault DP World F1 Team has submitted a request to the Stewards of the Event for clarification on the legality of the Racing Point RP20. We have no further comment on this matter until the Stewards have arrived at a decision."