A POOR tyre choice and some blatant baulking by a rival dropped Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo from a potential win to fifth place in Sunday night’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Up front, a jubilant Sebastien Vettel had a joyous drive in his Ferrari, finishing ahead of the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth in the other Ferrari.
“At the beginning of the race I genuinely thought we had a chance to win,” a frustrated Ricciardo said.
“I was at the tail end of the front pack and I could see everyone else in front of me. They were struggling and at that point I was thinking it could be on today, not only for a podium but for a win.”
The Perth driver started from fourth on the grid and had moved up to third place but when it was time for a tyre change in the second half of the race, was delayed by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who deliberately slowed in front of him as they entered the pit lane.
Race stewards were not impressed with the Briton’s tactic and Hamilton was hit with a five-second penalty for his unsporting move.
To compound Ricciardo’s woes, the fresh tyres failed to give the expected grip and he quickly dropped three places, but he managed to get past Felipe Massa’s Williams in the closing laps to finish fifth.
“I wanted a hug in those last few laps,” Ricciardo said.
“It was a bit lonely out there.”
Teammate Max Verstappen crashed out on lap 12 with a brake problem.
Force India’s Sergio Perez also had a lonely race in seventh spot, ahead of Roman Grosjean in a Haas, Nico Hulkenberg in a Renault and Estaeban Ocon claimed the final championship point for Force India.
The next race is the Russian Grand Prix on April 30.