Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo had a crazy few hours in Canada. In a breathless finale that had a huge Circuit Gilles Villeneuve crowd on its feet, Daniel passed Sergio Pérez for second place and then Nico Rosberg for the lead in the last few laps. He stood on the top step of the podium, along with his teammate Sebastian Vettel, drenched in champagne. He poured champagne on his crew and then went into the glare of the media. After that, it was the usual long debrief with his engineers and a bowl of pasta. He had a bag packed to head straight to the airport, but plans change in the face of momentous events so Daniel and his crew headed into the city.
GPT:Daniel, first opportunity to win a grand prix; first grand prix win. That must be very fulfilling.
DR:It’s what I’m most pleased about really. We had an opportunity today and we were able to take it. Mercedes have been so strong this year, but they had an off day. Towards the end of the race, I had glimpses of Rosberg whenever Pérez moved off line. I knew he was the leader. I knew there were only a few laps to go, and it was there for us. I’m incredibly pleased we took the most out of it. Once we got around Pérez, I knew we were going to win. I was simply convinced of it.
Your mood wasn’t so great this morning…
No. My quali lap had been scrappy. I was disappointed with sixth and carried a bit of anger about that into the race. It was good I got to use that in a positive way.
Did anything go wrong in qualifying or was that simply the pace that was in the car?
The warm-up lap was really tricky for us and that had an effect. The supersoft tires are good for one timed lap but the warm-up lap had to be fast or they wouldn’t be ready for the start of the lap. We didn’t have a fast out-lap which compromised us, and that was probably playing on my mind because I made a couple of mistakes on the lap itself.
You held sixth at the start but were one of the first to dive into the pits. Was that a tactical decision or were your tires giving up?
It was tactical. We were trying an undercut on Felipe Massa in front. The Williams was suffering a little bit more than us with its tires but trying to stay out. We didn’t have enough to pass them on track so the team called me in. The strategy was great today. They called me in at the right times and the pit stops were really quick as well.
Perhaps the crucial phase of the race was the second round of pit stops. You were running seventh behind Valtteri Bottas with Seb just in front of him. You emerged in front of both. What happened?
Valtteri pitted to attempt the undercut. I would have responded on the next lap but Seb was the lead car and so took that option and I came in one lap later. I think I just had a very clean in-lap and got away well after the guys gave me a phenomenal stop. I think Seb must have come out in traffic and wasn’t able to get on it 100 percent and so I was able to get it done. That set us up for the end of the race, definitely.
Is it easier to win when you grab the lead on lap 68 of 70, than if you lead from the start?
Perhaps there’s less time to get distracted by the possibilities?
Ah, well, yes, there is that. It doesn’t have as long to soak in – but don’t get me wrong, on that last lap my adrenaline levels were sky high. It’s a tough one because if you lead the whole race, you have time to get used to the sensation and you get to set your own rhythm. It was actually quite shocking to suddenly think “wow! I’m leading now.” I think it was pretty exciting for the fans. It certainly was for me.
The race ended behind the Safety Car and you were quite muted on the in-lap for obvious reasons.
Yeah, the responses were a bit mixed because the priority was to make sure Sergio and Felipe were OK. I saw the replay on the big screens around the circuit and then saw the cars when I came through on the last lap, so I knew it was a big one. Simon [Rennie, race engineer] was able to tell me that they were getting out of the cars OK, and after that I was surrendered to the emotions and didn’t know what to do.
What was the atmosphere like in the green room before the podium ceremony?
Nico was a bit disappointed, but at the same time he’d increased his championship lead so he wasn’t bitter – both he and Sebastian were very complimentary which was very nice. Actually everyone has been. Fernando came down to Red Bull hospitality to shake my hand. It’s a side of motorsport that people perhaps don’t see: We’re desperate to beat each other out on track, but afterwards there’s a pat on the back and a handshake.
Q10: Presumably you’ve imagined walking out up to the top step of the F1 podium a few times. Did the sensation match up to your expectations?
Ricciardo: When I got up there I didn’t know what to do! It’s all a little bit unreal. It’s very cool but I wasn’t sure whether I should be jumping up and down or not. Under other circumstances it’s something that you just do without analyzing it.
What happens now? Niki Lauda likes to say the first win is the difficult one.
I know what he means. Certainly in junior categories it gets easier after the first one. Not so much doing it but dealing with it. At the end of the day it comes down to confidence. I think I controlled the adrenaline pretty well today, but the next time I’m in this position – hopefully soon – it should be easier to push that down. Unfortunately winning doesn’t really scratch the itch; it just makes you want more and more. I’m going to become greedy to do this again.
Have you spoken to anyone outside the paddock yet? Your phone appears to be quite excited.
There’s a big list of messages I’ve got to answer but I haven’t had time yet, including from my parents. Actually it’s my Mum’s birthday in a few days so this’ll be a nice present.
Are you heading to the airport?
No, I’m going to stay in Montreal to celebrate. I’m going to enjoy it. I was booked on a flight tonight but there’s no way I could spend tonight in an airplane. It’s just not the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve got the whole team who wants to celebrate with me, and frankly it’d be rude to not go out.