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Ricciardo was running fifth at the time and looking to keep the pressure on Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in P4, but an uncharacteristic error at Turn 10 under the VSC – brought out after Esteban Ocon’s Force India came to a halt – left him facing the wrong way, and then his attempt to return to the track put him even further behind.
The Australian then bounced back to set the quickest lap of the race before eventually sealing a lonely P5, and Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has no doubt that the mishap was crucial in the surprising gap between Ricciardo and his third-placed Dutch team mate.
“He had a sneaky spin the camera didn’t pick up behind the Virtual Safety Car on the re-start,” Horner said. “He dropped about 12 seconds to that pack and that point. But you could see his pace in clear air at the end of the race there.”
Ricciardo started sixth on the grid on Sunday, but took advantage of Kimi Raikkonen’s retirement due to a power issue in his Ferrari to move up one spot – a position he had to settle for after the spin left him in “no-man’s land”.
“It was certainly a strange race. At the beginning we had good pace and it seemed like Kimi was a bit slower than Max and myself," he said.
“I thought I was faster than them, but then once they picked up the pace I wasn’t really able to go with them. When we pitted for the medium tyre we came out in traffic and lost some rhythm.
“I also had a spin on the VSC re-start, struggling to keep heat in the tyres, which really put me out of the race. Fortunately there were no walls, but it put me in no-man’s land.
"There were moments where the car was really fast, but it was just too difficult to get it every lap. I would set the fastest lap and then the next lap I would nearly spin."
The result leaves Ricciardo fifth in the drivers’ standings, one place adrift of Ferrari’s Raikkonen – and he’ll be looking to leapfrog the Finn when F1 resumes at the Monaco Grand Prix.