‘It’s definitely more fun fighting at the front’ – Ricciardo eager to maintain AlphaTauri’s shock Mexico pace
A hard-fought race from Daniel Ricciardo saw the AlphaTauri driver claim P7 in the Mexico City Grand Prix – with the Australian relishing being back at the sharp end of the grid and fighting with the likes of McLaren and Mercedes.
In only his second weekend back since sustaining a broken hand at Zandvoort, Ricciardo was one of the stars – and shock – performers in qualifying at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, claiming a sensational P4 on the grid, ahead of local hero Sergio Perez in the sister Red Bull car.
Ricciardo then showed strong pace throughout the race, but ultimately fell to P7 at the flag – the Australian feeling that the red flag brought out for Kevin Magnussen’s dramatic crash had cost him…
Asked if he was satisfied with the result, Ricciardo said: “I am… To be honest, when I saw the red flag, I was like ‘urgggh’, because the race was just kind of going very nice and smooth and we were in fifth and everything was kind of on plan and at that point, it looked like we could have finished fifth.
“But on the other hand, when there’s a big crash, you can’t think too much about yourself obviously. It was good to hear that Kevin was okay, and I heard it was a car failure as well, so out of his control and that’s racing, these things happen and it's the same for everyone.”
Such was Ricciardo’s pace, he spent the final few laps hunting down the Mercedes of George Russell, coming up just half a second short at the flag – with Ricciardo admitting that the P6 would have been a nice bonus.
“Some people had different tyres for the restart, so we were probably a little bit hindered [compared] to some cars with the medium,” said Ricciardo, who took the race restart on hard tyres compared to Russell on the mediums.
“I think we still did well to still grab a top-seven… I think sixth would have been even nicer but to fight a Mercedes at the end of the race – big picture, we have to be very happy.
“It’s definitely more fun fighting at the front,” he added. “It just feels better, feels right, so happy with the weekend and we’ll try to keep this thing rolling.”
Meanwhile, a day that promised a big haul of points for AlphaTauri was hampered by a crash for Ricciardo’s team mate Yuki Tsunoda when challenging Oscar Piastri for P7, the resultant spin leaving the Japanese driver 12th at the flag.
The stewards decided that no further action was warranted in the incident – with Ricciardo’s seventh place giving AlphaTauri six points, to leapfrog them off the bottom of the table and into P8, ahead of Alfa Romeo and Haas.