Daniel Ricciardo’s superb win in Hungary was a result of both the irrepressible Aussie’s driving, and a unique strategy that proved to be just the ticket.
For the second time this year Ricciardo and his team were able to take advantage on a day when things did not go entirely to plan for the usually dominant Mercedes team.
“I think this is even more satisfying than Montreal because we actually beat them without problems,” said Horner when asked about that double by this writer. “We got the strategy right, a great performance by Daniel today, the pit stops were good, overtaking moves were excellent, and I think we beat two Mercedes that didn’t have any problems today.”
Ricciardo did of course gain ground on those ahead when he was able to duck into the pits at the first safety car, but the key was coming in under the second safety car. Only three drivers opted to do that, and while Daniel went for soft tyres, with the intention of stopping again and thus having reasonably fresh rubber for as long as possible, the two Williams drivers went for mediums.
It was that third stint, before he put on fresh tyres for the final charge that saw him pass Hamilton and Alonso, that proved critical.
“Obviously starting on the inters the circuit in sector one was taking quite a bit of time to dry up. The safety car then came out after the Caterham had a big shunt, we immediately knew it was going to be a safety car, so we called both the boys, ‘box, box, box.’ Seb being a bit further up the road was half way up the last turn, Daniel being a bit further back managed to make the pit lane.
“The first four cars didn’t make the pitlane, the group behind, the ones that did, were then in the pound seats Jenson then stayed out on the inters, which were the right tyre for half a lap of the restart, and then Daniel was able to get into an aggressive strategy.
“The bit that really made it work for him was his penultimate stint, he was able to go so long on the option. We were looking at Massa thinking he was going to try to get to the end, and we were trying to get a pit window to him, then it was a question of we’ve got to stop again, we’ll stop as late as we can to have as fresh a tyre as we can for the last 10-15 laps.
“And it didn’t look like it was going to work, because he closed up very quickly, the guys were fighting so hard, it looked like we were going to cook our tyres, and we’ve not been quick on the straight all weekend, and it didn’t look like it was going to happen. Then obviously as they started to get more and more into deg, Daniel just paced himself, and then a fantastic move on Lewis round the outside at Turn 2, and a pretty straightforward move on Fernando, and job done.”
Horner was full of praise for his driver: “The guy is riding the crest of a confidence wave at the moment. You probably heard his radio message after he passed two World Champions. He’s driving the car with such ease at the moment, and things are just falling right for him as well. Being able to get in at the right time for that first stop was a critical element of the race.
“We then had a problem with one of the cylinders on the engine in that penultimate stint, but again the Renault guys were able to find a way around it and disable the sensor, and then his passing moves in the last five laps just topped a fantastic race really.”