Daniel Ricciardo believes his first top-five finish of 2022 at the Singapore Grand Prix can be attributed to he and his McLaren team having taken a mature approach to such a challenging race.
Teammate Lando Norris started from sixth on the grid but Ricciardo was down in 16th and facing a tall order on a track that is difficult to overtake on. In wet conditions he made a strong start and then both McLaren drivers stayed out longer than the rest of the field before pitting for slicks, allowing them to take advantage of a safety car caused by Yuki Tsunoda’s crash as Ricciardo finished fifth behind teammate Norris in fourth.
“Finally, I would say,” Ricciardo said. “It’s one of those ones where it was 50:50. We certainly had some fortune — I feel like it finally did something for us — but I also think we were patient and mature by not jumping to the slick.
“It was very tempting, I think as well when you’re just outside the points it’s very tempting to be a bit of a hero and try to make something happen but we had the right conversations and I just said as much as I wanted to be a bit of a hero, it didn’t feel right. And then once George (Russell) went on and then Pierre (Gasly) I think it sounded like it took a long time for them, so we thought, ‘keep going.’
“Also in my mind I was like, ‘OK, the track is very slippery, especially on a slick, then the chance of someone going off is high, so obviously all we need is a safety car to pit and we gain a lot of positions basically. That’s what happened. It was kind of an ideal scenario for us and it played out. Obviously I don’t wish anyone to crash like that with Tsunoda — I think he’s fine anyway, which is good — but it was more that the safety car was perfect for us, so I was happy that we got it.”
Leapfrogging Alpine for fourth in the constructors’ championship in one race was an unexpected bonus for McLaren, and Ricciardo admits he’s proud to produce a significant contribution to that score in what was only his fifth top-10 finish of the year.
“You’ve got to cash in and it’s one of those days — it’s unlikely we get another big day like this when Alpine don’t, but you never know. I’m just happy that we cashed in when we could’ve, should’ve, and finally both sides of the garage there’s some content.
“It’s big, because obviously I’m aware of the championship situation and the lack of points I’ve been able to get this year has certainly been pretty sad. So to contribute on a day when we certainly needed to with both Alpines retiring, that was big for us. I’m happy to have done my job for sure.”
Ricciardo rates it as one of his best performances of the season to go along with the strong result, because of the calm approach he and McLaren took.
“It’s up there. I feel it was a 33-year-old drive in terms of being at times… I didn’t have the pace as the track started to dry on the inter, I was starting to get a bit antsy, like, ‘Guys I’m not that quick right now, let’s put a slick on and see what it does,’ but then it was, ‘OK that’s kind of an emotional decision,] so we kept the conversation going and I think that’s ultimately what put us in a top five position.
“It helped with a good start and a good first lap, so certainly I take some of that credit, but I think just having good dialogue made it… It’s not often you come from 16th to fifth here, so I’ll take it. I had fun in Australia too — it was nice to get a good one at home.”