PERTH racer Daniel Ricciardo overcame a first-lap collision with Sebastian Vettel to slot home fifth in an entertaining Mexican F1 Grand Prix.
The Duncraig ace qualified fifth on the grid and had a great start in his Red Bull Renault, overtaking Vettel’s Ferrari in the charge to the first corner, but Vettel tried to close the door, with dire consequences.
After a touch of wheels, his car needed a new tyre, while Ricciardo continued unaffected and despite protests by the petulant German, cleared of any blame by race authorities.
It was the start of an awful event for Ferrari. Vettel later spun, also had an off-track excursion and ended his race with a crash.
Teammate Kimi Raikkonen had a similar touch of wheels in a corner with fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas’ Williams-Mercedes, which put his Ferrari out of the race.
Up front, Nico Rosberg led from start to finish in his Mercedes, turning the tables on teammate Lewis Hamilton.
The race was the first on the spectacular 4.3km Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez since 1992.
Its location, in rarified air more than 2200m above sea level, gave the cars phenomenal speed, with many clocked at more than 350km/h along its main straight.
Vettel’s crash, on lap 52 of the 71-lap race, caused a flurry of pit activity as cars shot in for fresh tyres, with the Williams of Bottas emerging in third place.
The Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo were fourth and fifth, Felipe Massa ended up a distant sixth, followed by the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenbergand local hero Sergio Perez, whose every passing was wildly applauded by the massive crowd.
Max Verstappen was eighth for Toro Rosso and the Lotus pair of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado completed the top 10.
Ricciardo had mixed feelings about his first race on the Mexican circuit.
“It was a bit of a frustrating race,” he said.
“But it’s nice to come to a new place, especially when it puts on a show like this.
“The drivers’ parade was awesome too. I had goose bumps to see so many fans cheering for us.
“As for the incident with Sebastien, I was on the inside and he took the apex, so I had nowhere else to go.
“We’ll see what happens in Brazil in two weeks.”