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Daniel Ricciardo was all smiles after the Japanese Grand Prix, in which he picked up a second consecutive points finish and third in four races. Over the closing handful of laps, the Toro Rosso driver successfully fended off seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher who had fought through from the back of the grid.
“It was an eventful race,” said the Australian, who is now just one point behind French team-mate Jean-Éric Vergne in the standings. “Immediately at the start, I got bogged down a little bit, but then going up through the gears I found more drive but I’d lost a position to Hülkenberg. Then, with the incident that later brought out the Safety Car, I managed to make up some places.
“I saw Alonso spin off in front of me and it was a close call, as quite a few of us were close to getting caught up in the accident. I managed to get around it and got past Grosjean going into Turn 3. From then on, I had a pretty good race, staying with Maldonado at first, but could not pass him. The last two stints were good, at first having a battle with Webber who was on a different strategy.”
Ricciardo admits that he was particularly pleased to keep Schumacher behind him in the closing stages of the race.
“Right at the end, I was holding off Michael and I was really pleased to have won that battle,” he laughed. “It’s always tougher when you are the slower car in a duel, but with good advice from the pit wall on how to use the KERS to defend in the DRS zone, I managed it. Our work rate as a team has improved and I’m very pleased with the way I drove under pressure.
“It’s not every day you have a seven-times World Champion on your tail and, given he only has a few more races, it was nice to have a battle with him to put in my scrapbook!”
Ricciardo is now nearing the end of his first full season in Formula 1, having debuted with HRT from last year’s British Grand Prix.
|1.||S. Vettel||Red Bull||1:28:56.242|
|7.||N. Hulkenberg||Force India||+51.159|
|9.||M. Webber||Red Bull||+54.675|
|10.||D. Ricciardo||Toro Rosso||+1:06.919|
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|Mercedes Grand Prix|
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|2012 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix|
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