F1 pit lane tales: 'Mercedes destroyer' Ricciardo in mood for a party
Beating Mercedes is a tough job but someone has got to do it and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo stepped forward again on Sunday as the man who can.
Already the only driver to have beaten Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to the top step of the podium this season, the Australian added to his Canada success with a victory in Hungary.
"This year you are the only Mercedes destroyer," he was informed by a local reporter at a post-race news conference. "Good. Someone's got to do it," he grinned in reply.
The current tally from 11 races stands at Mercedes 9, Ricciardo 2.
The 25-year-old has been a revelation at Red Bull this season, arriving as replacement for departed compatriot Mark Webber and promptly putting quadruple champion team mate Sebastian Vettel in the shade.
Canada was the first win of the Perth driver's career and in Hungary he showed he was no one-hit wonder with another remarkable drive from fourth on the starting grid in changing conditions and two safety car periods.
Please click NEXT to read more...
Image: Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo with grid girls
Photographs: Getty Images
'Party for a few days'
"Amazing, absolutely amazing, sensational. You deserve that, well done," said team principal Christian Horner as the Australian whooped and roared in delight as he crossed the line.
"It feels as good as the first, it really does," gasped Ricciardo, whose wins have both come after making the final overtaking manoeuvre three laps from the finish.
The Australian is third overall in the championship, 71 points adrift of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg with eight races remaining.
If the drivers' title battle looks like a duel between Rosberg and team mate Lewis Hamilton, 11 points behind, Ricciardo was still determined to make it difficult for them.
"On a normal weekend with normal conditions on pretty much all circuits, they’ve been dominant. I think days like today, with some changing conditions, some safety cars, it helps us keep our nose in the fight," he said.
"If you look at today, I closed in on the championship but realistically we’re still a long way off. It doesn’t really change the approach in any case. If we’re in it or not, we still race for the highest position possible."
Formula One now heads off on an August break before returning for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, a driver and fan favourite.
But before then, Ricciardo was determined to make the most of his triumph.
"Definitely going to celebrate tonight and party for a few days I think," he said. "Got a few mates here this weekend, so we’ll party hard tonight."
Please click NEXT to read more...
Image: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing celebrates victory on the podium
Photographs: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Alonso keeps Ferrari sweet with second place
Fernando Alonso gave himself an early birthday present, and kept Ferrari sweet, after finishing second in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.
The result was the Spaniard's best result of the year, after a third place in China, and came at the circuit where he took his first win in Formula One with Renault back in 2003.
Last year Alonso earned himself a rebuke from Maranello on his 32nd birthday, the day after he finished fifth at the Hungaroring and told reporters he wanted the car the other drivers had.
Asked at the same time what he planned to do over the August break, the Spaniard had replied: "I will pray".
Those remarks led to a sharp telephone conversation with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, in which the driver's ear was officially 'tweaked', and came after speculation about Alonso's future with the team.
The double world champion can expect a more effusive conversation with the big boss this time after steering well clear of any such controversy on Sunday.
Please click NEXT to read more...
Image: Second placed Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain kisses his trophy
Photographs: David W Cerny/Reuters
'This podium means a lot to me and the whole team'
"I am extremely proud of the team, extremely proud of the job we did today and very, very happy," declared the Spaniard, whose 33rd birthday is on Tuesday.
"This podium means a lot to me and the whole team, because after so many difficult races, we managed to get the most out of everything, also taking a few risks and second place seems like a win.
"To do 31 laps at the end on used soft tyres was a great challenge. At that point, the strategy suggested that if we had made a third stop, we could have finished fourth, but we decided to run to the flag instead."
Asked what he might wish for his birthday this year, he recognised that his words had caused a stir in Italy last time round.
"So, this year, I will not wish anything about the car and I will wish a happy day to everyone in Italy," he said.
Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci, who replaced Stefano Domenicali in April, sounded happier already than he has been in a while.
Image: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing speaks with Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari as he celebrates victory on the podium after the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at Hungaroring on July 27, 2014 in Budapest, Hungary
Photographs: Drew Gibson/Getty Images
Mercedes team order came from panic, says Lauda
Mercedes panicked in asking Lewis Hamilton to move over for Nico Rosberg in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix and the Briton was right to ignore the request, according to Niki Lauda.
The Formula One team's non-executive chairman, himself a triple World Champion, refused to blame Hamilton and told reporters he would have done exactly the same in the circumstances.
"The team was under enormous stress," he said of an incident that became a major talking point after Hamilton raced from the pitlane to third place while Rosberg started on pole and finished fourth.
"Mercedes was used to being in the lead and racing against each other. This race, with the safety car at the beginning and wet conditions, was a completely different race so every minute you had to decide something different.
"Why the call came was out of the panic and we have to make up for what we are losing," he added.
Mercedes had won nine of 10 races until Sunday, when Australian Daniel Ricciardo took his second victory of the year for champions Red Bull.
Hamilton was told over the team radio, after his second and final stop with a third of the race to go, not to hold up Rosberg behind him because the German needed to get past to make his three-stop strategy work.
Hamilton made clear Rosberg needed to be a lot closer to overtake and would not slow down or move aside. After eight laps behind him, Rosberg pitted and then had to fight back in a thrilling chase to the finish between the top four.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso finished second.
The result allowed Hamilton, who had suffered an engine fire in qualifying, to cut Rosberg's overall lead to 11 points with eight races remaining.
Had he let Rosberg pass, the German might have won for Mercedes and extended his lead but Lauda said Hamilton had to look out for his own interests rather than the team's.
Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff recognised after the race that the title battle had entered a new phase.
"We cannot really ask either driver to give up their position or jeopardise their own championship chances for the benefit of the team," he said.
Lauda said it was "completely normal between drivers that they want to be in front of the other. So the reaction of the drivers for me is completely normal.
"I think when everything calms down, there is nothing wrong. It was good racing; this is for me the most important, between the Mercedes guys and the rest."
Image: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP with team-mate Nico Rosberg of Germany
Photographs: Paul Gilham/Getty Images