Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo goes into the formula one mid-season break vowing that he’s part of a Renault team that will dig in and come out fighting again when the season resumes in Belgium next month.
Ricciardo started 20th at the back of the grid at the Hungarian Grand Prix, having installed a new power unit and managed to fight his way to 14th on Monday morning (AEST).
With his former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen scrapping with eventual winner Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes, Ricciardo’s season mid-field has been less than stellar, with his Renault suffering from a lack of power, grip and reliability.
“There are some positives and the summer break will be good for us,” Ricciardo said in a team statement after the race.
We’ll reset, take some time off, we know we’re in it together and we’ll be targeting a better second-half of the season.”
Ricciardo goes into the break sitting a disappointing 11th on the driver standings, with 22 world championship points. His Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg is in 14th with 17.
Renault’s team principal Cyril Abiteboul knows improvement is required – particularly if the team wants to hold onto Ricciardo beyond his 2020 contract.
“Daniel ran a good race, but starting last is always going to be a challenge at a track like Budapest,” Abiteboul said.
“He still managed to gain several positions and had a good fight with [Kevin] Magnussen [in the Haas] until the last corner, showing that he is a fighter who does not surrender.
“His attitude on track must be an inspiration for us as we head towards the summer break, with a first half of the season well below our objectives.”
Ricciardo said his race had positive moments.
“We made the Hard tyres last well and then had good pace on the Soft tyre towards the end. It was frustrating not to get past Magnussen,” he said.
“I felt he was moving under braking, and I couldn’t do anything. I wasn’t happy about that as we could have progressed even further at the end.”
Hamilton’s latest win has seen hm surge 62 points clear in the championship standings.
The championship leader reeled in Verstappen four laps from the end after changing onto fresher tyres.
“That was definitely a tall order but I’m grateful we did it,” said Hamilton of a strategy that left him with a gap of almost 20 seconds to close in the final 22 laps. “Man, that feels so good, guys.”
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished third.
Hamilton, who also triumphed in Hungary last year and is heading inexorably towards a sixth title, now has 250 points, with teammate Valtteri Bottas on 188 and Verstappen closing in fast on 181.
The win was Hamilton’s eighth in 12 rounds this season and the 81st of his career – 10 short of seven-times champion Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.
Verstappen, who made a late pitstop after being passed and then made sure of an extra point for the fastest lap, crossed the line 17.7 seconds behind Hamilton.
“I think Lewis today was on fire as well,” Verstappen said.
“We were just not fast enough but I tried everything I could on those hard tyres to stay alive. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough but, to finish second with the fastest lap, it was a good weekend overall.”
McLaren enjoyed another strong afternoon with both drivers in the points, Spaniard Carlos Sainz fifth and British teenager Lando Norris ninth.
Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly, his future at the team increasingly questioned, had another lacklustre race and was lapped by Verstappen on the way to sixth place.
Kimi Raikkonen was seventh for Alfa Romeo and Thai racer Alexander Albon, who went wheel-to-wheel with team mate Daniil Kvyat, took the final point for Honda-powered Toro Rosso.