Exclusive: Daniel will start the summer break with a hangover after claiming a dramatic second win.
F1 heads into its summer break with Daniel Ricciardo on top, celebrating his second victory of a thrilling 2014 season.
The Hungarian Grand Prix had it all: rain, crashes, safety periods and 22 cars seemingly running 22 different strategies all at the same time. Daniel came through it all, passing Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in the closing laps, sending the crowd, already on its feet, into delirium, and F1 into its summer break on a massive high.
Daniel, Niki Lauda says winning gets easier after the first time. Well, do you agree or disagree?
Oh it makes complete sense. I guess it’s the nerves when you take the lead. I took the lead today with three laps to go, not very different to Canada, but I was much more calm. Not that I made any mistakes in Canada but the heart rate definitely goes up. Today I felt much more in control of that. I think being there, knowing the feeling, knowing that I can do it… yeah, the second time feels easier.
Presumably the heart rate got pretty high with a committed move to pass Lewis Hamilton and take second?
A little bit! That was also like Canada. I could see the lead. Fernando was in sight; I knew I had the quicker car but laps were running out so I wasn’t going to hold back. It took a while to get that first opportunity. I tried at Turn Two but I went in too deep. The second time I made it stick. Obviously I had the tyres so I was able to drive around the outside. I was fully committed. It was very cool.
You took the lead on lap eight after opting to make a first pitstop as the Safety Car came out. There wasn’t much time to think about it – who made the call to pit for slicks?
We’d been discussing it for a lap before the Safety Car came out. I was asking if anyone had tried slicks yet, we were talking about how close it was to the crossover point. Also, my Inter tyre wasn’t holding up too well. The Safety Car coming out made the decision easy: Simon [Rennie, race engineer] and I were both saying “yeah, let’s do it.”
You pitted from P1 in the second Safety Car period – but the following cars didn’t. Were you sure that was the right thing to do?
Ah, hmmm… well… the first Safety Car certainly helped us but the second stop, when I pitted and they all stayed out, I was thinking “maybe we’ve lost some time here”. It all worked out in the end but at the time I wasn’t so sure. I had been reporting some tyre degradation and, knowing I was suffering a bit, they decided to call me in and not take a risk.
Afterwards, you were asked to “think about how you use your tyres”. Was there a cryptic message in that or was it just what it sounded like?
It meant was it sounded like. Basically the message was that I was out of sequence, the guys in front were going to be pitting a lot earlier than me, so I shouldn’t kill my tyres fighting them if I couldn’t get past quickly. The idea was to look after the tyres and have something left to make the gap with when they pitted.
It left you with a bit to do towards the end…
Yeah, the last couple of stops were a question mark, particularly the final stop. We knew it was going to get us to the end safely and with a good tyre – but it meant giving up the lead and having to overtake two fast cars right at the end. It was the right decision – but at the time it wasn’t black and white. Simon was good: he said: “You will catch Lewis and Fernando – so don’t kill your tyres trying to catch them.”
So, where to from here?
I think I’ll probably retire now. It’s the only way. Get a dirt bike, some sheep to round up… Nah, maybe not. It’s time for a holiday. Ten days off, chill out, see some friends who are over in Europe on holiday. But first I’m going to celebrate for a couple of days. I’ve told my engineers and trainer to cancel their flights. The plan is to wake up with a hangover. I’ve been lucky to win two races in really good party towns and I intend to enjoy it. (Red Bull)