Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo explains how he usurped Max Verstappen of his fastest lap in the F1 Abu Dhabi GP, and denied the Dutchman a grand slam.
Ricciardo claimed the fastest lap on the 55th and final lap of the Grand Prix, despite being on 16-lap-old medium tyres, fitted on Lap 39 after a monumental stint on hard tyres. Likened to Lewis Hamilton’s fastest lap in the 2019 British GP on 32-lap-old hard tyres, the prodigious performance left many surprised.
The Australian, though, explains that an exceedingly conservative stint on the mediums allowed him to preserve his tyres and ultimately challenge Verstappen’s fastest lap when he was made aware of the time to beat during the end stages of the F1 grand prix.
Ricciardo adds that his strategy on the yellow-striped medium tyres was the result of a misconception he had regarding the compound he was on. “I was a bit confused that last stint,” he said to TV media. “We had to get out in front of Gasly – and we did that – but McLaren was 15 seconds, even more, out in front, and still doing quite good lap times.
“Initially I was told don’t go too hard on the mediums, because there was some graining we’d heard. So I started going quite slow, then my engineer said ‘Pick it up, you’re asleep!’ I didn’t believe we could catch the guys in front, and I didn’t want to go hard and kill the tyre for nothing.
“Then I pushed really hard, I did a fast lap, and then the tyres dropped off. I just conserved and conserved. [And] then Carole, my engineer, told me the fastest lap and it was like one thousandth quicker than what I had done,” said Ricciardo, whose dramatic effort was such that it nearly caused him to crash twice, he says. “The last two laps I just pushed, and probably nearly crashed a couple of times, but it was okay.”
Ricciardo was elated upon crossing the line, immediately asking his engineer, “Did I get it?”. When told he had gotten the fastest lap, and with it an extra point, Ricciardo giggled before exclaiming, in jubilant fashion, “Hoh! Awww sh*t! Oh f**k!”
The 31-year-old continued to celebrate his triumph, and shared a joyous moment with his team after a P7 result in his final race with the team before he moves to McLaren.
Similarly, Verstappen, who was denied an opportunity to become F1’s youngest grand slam winner, celebrated his success despite that. After being mistakenly told he had also won fastest lap initially, he was informed on the radio that he had been edged out by Ricciardo. In reaction, the 23-year-old said, “Ay ay ay! It’s all good – all good”.
A grand slam is when a driver starts on pole, leaders every lap, wins the grand prix and also registers the fastest lap. The youngest grand slam holder currently is with Sebastian Vettel, who earned hos at 24-years and 119 days. Had Verstappen done it in Abu Dhabi, it would have been a record at 23-years and 74 days.
This was the second time that Ricciardo denied Verstappen of a record, the last time being when the former took pole in the 2018 Mexican GP, preventing the Dutchman from becoming the youngest polesitter. It’s a record also held by Vettel at 21-years and 72 days.
Here’s the unseen fastest lap from Daniel Ricciardo: https://www.formula1.com/en/video/2020/12/Abu_Dhabi_2020__DHL_Fastest_Lap_Award.html
Here’s post-race radio of Max Verstappen: https://www.formula1.com/en/video/2020/12/2020_Abu_Dhabi_Grand_Prix__Verstappen_wins_final_race_of_Formula_1_season.html
Here’s Daniel Ricciardo celebrating fastest lap: https://www.formula1.com/en/video/2020/12/2020_Abu_Dhabi_Grand_Prix__Ricciardo_celebrates_fastest_lap_in_last_race_for_Renault.html
Here’s what Max Verstappen said after winning Abu Dhabi GP
Here’s thoughts of Esteban Ocon
Here’s how Renault bid goodbye to Daniel Ricciardo