Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo feared that McLaren’s Lando Norris would have passed him with a the two-stop in F1 US GP after a hefty fight.
The F1 mid-field pack never fails to produce a great battle and in F1 US GP at Circuit of the Americas, the fight that got good coverage – apart from the usual top pack – was one between Renault’s Ricciardo and McLaren’s Norris.
Their tussle began on Lap 1 itself with both Norris and Ricciardo passing a slow-running Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The two then stayed together on track with the Australian eventually passing the British racer on Lap 8 to take fifth.
From then on, Ricciardo was ahead as Renault opted to keep him on the one stop, while McLaren changed the strategy for Norris and put him on two-stop. It nearly worked with the British driver finishing only 0.398s behind the Australian.
Ricciardo feared that in another lap or so, Norris would have passed him, considering the fresh tyres he had. They both were passed by Red Bull Racing’s Alexander Albon though, with Renault beating McLaren to be sixth and seventh respectively.
“The start was fun and the first lap was cool,” said Ricciardo to the media. “It went back and forth a bit with Lando and then, initially I got him, he got me back and then I got him a few laps later. So that was fun.
“And then I think he could see his one stop wasn’t going to work, behind me, so they called them in for a two and actually I think just before that Albon had boxed for a two, and I know he’s got more pace with the Red Bull.
“But he came back through us so quickly, so when I knew Lando had pitted for a two stop I feared the last few laps of the race were going to be not too fun. He got on my gearbox in the last corner actually but we held off, so I think one more lap, the two stop had us.
“It was nice to finish P6 and beat them and get more points, and two good weekends in a row now so that’s nice.” At the same time, Norris enjoyed the initial fight but was slightly frustrated to get over the line as yellow flags helped Ricciardo as well.
“He got ahead of me on the first lap into Turn 2, I almost didn’t see it and we almost had a huge shunt,” said Norris. “But it was a bit of a surprise seeing him come on the inside, he must have been in my blind spot around Turn 2. But I got him back.
“But their pace was better than us, in terms of outright, maybe not outright pace. On one lap, like we proved we were the quicker team and we had a quicker car, but race pace we were expecting them to be definitely stronger than us, especially with the wind conditions.
“I wasn’t shocked that he was able to get past me, I was kind of expecting it at one point. We tried the alternate strategy, we tried the two-stop, and missed out by one corner, under a second. Then I was a bit more frustrated.”
Despite the points for Ricciardo as well as Nico Hulkenberg, it is unlikely that the French manufacturer will be beat the Woking-based team, with the difference of still 38 points and only two races remaining in the 2019 F1 season.
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Additional input from Duncan Leahy