Aussie fans out in force to cheer Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo in full flight.
Daniel Ricciardo in full flight.

It was Ricciardo’s seventh podium finish of the season, which kept him secure in third place in the driver’s championship behind the dominant Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

But the final 15 laps were a nailbiter for the four leading cars: Hamilton’s Mercedes, the Red Bull Renaults of Sebastien Vettel and teammate Ricciardo, and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

The Mercedes was clearly the fastest, but needed a 27-second gap over second-placed Vettel to allow a final pit stop for fresh tyres.

Hamilton achieved that in the dying laps, rejoined the race in second place and reclaimed the lead within a lap as his three closest rivals battled on to the finish with severely worn tyres.

The win put the Briton at the top of the driver’s title, three points clear of teammate and bitter rival Rosberg, whose car failed on the start line with a hardware problem.

Ricciardo, who qualified third, finished just 0.73 seconds behind Vettel, with Alonso’s red Ferrari a scant 1.11 seconds adrift.

‘It feels like a home race in Western Australia,’ the 25-year-old Perth star said of the tremendous cheers he won from the crowd when he qualified third on Saturday and again when he stepped out on the podium after the 61-lap, 308km race on the demanding Marina Bay street circuit.

The next grand prix is at Suzuka in Japan on October 5.