It was a lonely day at the races for Daniel Ricciardo but one which nevertheless yielded a positive performance and a podium finish.
The Red Bull Racing driver lost his position at the start to team mate Max Verstappen, but also to Force India’s incisive Esteban Ocon.
Ricciardo eventually got the better of the pink panther however but could not bridge the gap with the men ahead, eventually settling in to race on his own for most of the afternoon, as was the case in Sepang.
“The race was pretty lonely when I lost out at the start and then lost touch a little bit like last week,” said the Aussie.
“It was just the jump off of the line and then I was on the outside and didn’t get a good drive on the outside of turn two being hung out to dry on the outside and that is where Ocon got the better exit.
“It all started with the initial launch where we lost out. It was something I could have done better.”
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A fast moving Valtteri Bottas started snapping at his heels in the second part of the race. Keeping the Finn at bay instilled a bit of fun and excitement for the remaining laps.
“It wasn’t that exciting from my point of view, but I then had Valtteri coming at the end so actually having a bit of pressure made it more exciting, it was good fun,” he said.
“I felt confident I could keep third place in the closing laps if I drove cleanly and hit all the apexes, which is what I did.
“I’m happy to spray some more champagne, it’s my ninth podium of the season which is a new record for me and to be in the position that we are now makes me pretty happy.
“It’s really encouraging for the team to have another double podium, both cars are getting to the finish reliably now and we are also quick.
“This is my first podium here, my objective today was to get the Suzuka podium and I have it and it feels great.
“It’s a circuit I’ve always enjoyed and now with this year’s cars it’s a lot of fun.”
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