Daniel Ricciardo admits his defending against Carlos Sainz at the United States Grand Prix was “strong,” but he claims it helped him finish fifth.
As they battled for position in the Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas, Sainz was dissatisfied with Ricciardo.
After trading blows at the start of the race, they were pitted against each other in tight quarters later in the race, with Sainz declaring “that got a bit filthy, he did that on purpose” after they collided when the Ferrari driver attempted to pass him for fifth place.
Ricciardo held onto the position while Sainz later lost out to Valtteri Bottas, a fate Ricciardo believed awaited him if he didn’t keep the Ferrari behind him.
“Carlos was putting pressure on me the entire race, and we actually had a really good battle the first lap,” he said.
“We actually went back and forth I think three times. I managed to get him and that set up my race and allowed me to fight for fifth so that was really important.
“And then a pretty good battle with him and let’s say a strong defence which I need to do to hold him of because I think realistically if he’d have got me, I’d have fallen back into Bottas and I think he probably would have had a much better chance of getting me as well so fifth could have quickly become seventh.”
Ricciardo finished sixth, returning to the points after missing the Turkish Grand Prix.
“I’m very happy to have got a top-five here in the great city of Austin, Texas,” he said.
With Charles Leclerc fourth and Carlos Sainz seventh, and Lando Norris eighth, McLaren’s Constructors’ Championship lead over Ferrari was cut by 3.5 points with five races left.
When asked about his meeting with Ricciardo, Sainz said it was challenging but fair.
“Obviously I was on the outside,” he explained, “so this kind of thing is going to happen.
“It’s tough – fair, on the limit racing, because obviously he bumped me out – and sometimes it’s a bit too much.
“If we would have done a good pit stop, we would have undercut him and we wouldn’t have fought him.”
He added: “I was stuck behind Daniel the whole race. I tried a couple of moves on him and nearly made it stick and then obviously the slow pit stop that cost us, the undercut of him and we couldn’t make it happen. Yes, a tough one out there.”
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