Daniel Ricciardo’s time at Renault might be winding down, but his barnstorming performance at the Belgium Grand Prix and a near-miss podium have put some spice into his tattoo bet with team principal Cyril Abiteboul.
The Australian finished fourth at Spa and also snared a point for fastest lap, prompting an excited expletive deleted over team radio.
“Yeah, I f—ing sent that last lap,” Ricciardo said, having now snared fourth three times this season and twice in the past four races.
Teammate Esteban Ocon was fifth, capping a good weekend for Renault and underlying the improvement in power that has put the French team back at the top of the midfield battles on the faster tracks.
“What a race and definitely an excellent result for the team. We had a lot of pace today and fourth is a strong result,” Ricciardo said.
“It’s been a while since I’ve had the fastest lap of the race, so that was also nice. My engineer told me what the current fastest was and I thought ‘I got this’!
It was a proper big lap; I used all the track and went for it. Maybe it was better than my qualifying lap yesterday!’’
The Australian is also looking forward to the next round at Monza, which should also suit his car.
“This was a good track for us last year and Monza was even better. We’ll see what happens, but we can go there with a lot of confidence.”
All of which must be making Abiteboul nervous, given his much-publicised bet with Ricciardo about getting a tattoo if he manages to snare Renault a podium before leaving for McLaren next season.
“That’s the bet. I believe he chooses placement and size, but I choose the design,” Ricciardo has said.
“It’s a big deal for Cyril.
“I think it will be something spontaneous, spur of the moment. It has to be something funny, when he looks at it, he shakes his head and goes ‘ah, remember those times’. One of those ones.”
For his part Abiteboul dedicated the race to Anthoine Hubert, the young Renault driver who died in the support category at Spa last season.
“While we’re satisfied with today, we have to stay focused,” Abiteboul said.
“It’s the same car that failed to be in the top 10 in Barcelona and that shows a lack of consistency for competitiveness and improving this will have to be our priority.
Great weekend. Held it flat a lot. Last lap of the race may have been better than Q3 😅📮
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) August 30, 2020
“In addition to the strong finishing positions that brings us closer to the teams ahead in the championship, the fastest lap today by Daniel rounds off in style the result and I see that as a reward to everyone in Viry who has been working so hard for several years to get on top of the complexity of the power unit.”
Ricciardo’s excellent drive means he’s jumped two places to eighth in the drivers standings, albeit level-pegging on points with Racing Point’s Sergio Perez on 33.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton led from start to finish on Sunday to win at Spa-Francorchamps to clinch his 89th career win with his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas second and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen third.
We're excited to confirm that @supercars are back on The Bend's calendar with back to back OTR SuperSprints on the weekends of Sept. 19 – 20 and 26 – 27.
— The Bend Motorsport Park (@thebend_msp) August 31, 2020
Meanwhile, South Australia is ready to host the Australian Formula One Grand Prix should the event be moved from Melbourne because of COVID-19 concerns.
Premier Steven Marshall says The Bend Motorsport Park, east of Adelaide, would be a suitable location to stage the grand prix next year.
“We’re not going over to poach, but we stand ready with a fantastic track in South Australia,” he said on Monday.
“We don’t have the ability to put together a street circuit which would be suitable for Formula One, so the only option for the grand prix to come to South Australia would be at The Bend.”
Mr Marshall said the state government would look at “every single option” to bring the race to SA, including financial support.
But he said any plan would have to “stack up” from a commercial perspective.
“We don’t have buckets and buckets of cash lying around,” the premier said.
“But to bring quality events to South Australia that promote economic activity and get our economy moving again, is exactly what we’re looking at.”