IT was another ‘shoey’ day for Perth’s Daniel Ricciardo when the 27-year-old celebrated his second place in the Belgian Grand Prix by drinking champagne from his shoe.
It was a repeat of his performance in the German Grand Prix on August 1, but this time he made fellow Australian Mark Webber scull some bubbly too.
“I’m not drinking from that, mate,” podium compere Webber said as he was offered the fizz-filled size 10 Puma.
But he did, and a jubilant Ricciardo responded with “I think we just made our country even more proud”.
It was a fitting end to the chaotic 44-lap race on the magnificent and extremely fast forest-ringed 7km Spa-Francorchamps circuit, where the F1 cars top 340km/h on the long straight.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg led from start to finish with Daniel Ricciardo unchallenged in second spot, 14 seconds behind, and Lewis Hamilton a further 13.5 seconds astern in the second Mercedes.
It was a remarkable finish for Hamilton, who started 21st after being penalised for a trio of pre-race engine changes, with McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso in 22nd place for a similar offence.
But luck played a big part in their spectacular charge through the field.
The race started with Sebastien Vettel spinning his Ferrari after colliding with teammate Kimi Raikkonen on the first corner, then, a lap later, Carlos Sainz had a massive moment when a rear tyre of his Toro Rosso exploded.
But on lap nine, Danish driver Kevin Magnussen lost control of his Renault at 300km/h, spun and ran nose-first into the tyre-cushioned crash barrier.
It was a sickening moment and the yellow car was utterly destroyed – but Magnussen climbed out and was taken to hospital with only an ankle injury.
That brought out the safety car and many drivers made the most of the slow pace to dive into the pits for fresh tyres.
Soon after, officials red-flagged the race to repair the damage to the safety barrier and backmarkers Hamilton and Alonso, who had kept circulating, found they had moved up among the front-runners.
There was more drama as Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen had a bruising mid-field battle with the young Dutch driver’s aggressive moves generating lurid language from the furious Finn.
Verstappen, who qualified second on the grid, made some poor tyre choices and soon dropped back. But seemingly overdosed on Red Bull, he also banged wheels with Vettel and pushed Perez off the track during his run to 11th place.
Nico Hulkenberg and Force India teammate Sergio Perez claimed fourth and fifth places, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel’s sixth, ahead of Fernando Alonso in the McLaren-Honda.
Valtteri Bottas was eighth for Williams, just ahead of Raikkonen and Brazil’s Felipe Massa took 10th in his Williams.
By comparison, Ricciardo had a lonely drive to finish a strong second, but he was clearly delighted with his podium finish.
“I knew a podium was on today,” he said.
“A win is always the big target, but Nico had the pace that we expected, so second is the best we could have done.
“There was a lot going on at the start and I actually hit some of the debris which damaged the front wing, so the red flag helped us as we were able to repair it. Before that the car was quite affected.
“Then, after that we got going; there wasn’t too much action for me, but I was just trying to be consistent and the outcome was good.
“The fans this weekend have been awesome, with 99% of the fans here for Max (Verstappen) but they were cheering everyone and it was good sportsmanship; So big respect to the Dutch and Belgian fans, they were really cool.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was equally chuffed.
“An impressive performance by Daniel today; a great disciplined drive,” he said.
“To finish second, at the type of venue that we weren’t expecting to be our strongest, is an amazing result.”
Next race isat Italy’s Monza circuit on September 7.