Christian Horner wants Daniel Ricciardo to be able to sign off from his time at Red Bull with a win in one of the final four rounds following his impressive recovery drive in the Japanese Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was eliminated in Q2 on Saturday when a throttle issue caused him to him lose power and fail to set a lap time. Starting from 15th, the Australian delivered an aggressive drive into the top four and was just 6.5 seconds adrift of second place, and Horner wants a clean weekend for the Renault-bound driver in one of his final races with the team.
“A fantastic drive from Daniel,” Horner told Channel 4. “He has overtaken so many cars over the past few weeks that we just want to see him starting from his real grid position. To come through the field and finish fourth today… hopefully we’ll get him a podium before the end of the year, and in a perfect scenario we would be able to get him a win.
“He was very happy with the drive. To come from where he was on the grid to where he finished is a great drive. We just need engine reliability between now and the end of the year to make sure he is not incurring penalties, he’s qualifying and starting in the positions that he should be.
“We have we tried to get ourselves on the front foot for the last four races, we are not expecting to [take penalties], but you never know.”
Max Verstappen pushed Valtteri Bottas close for second place in the closing laps at Suzuka after having been hurt by a five-second time penalty and collision with Sebastian Vettel earlier in the race. No action was taken against either driver, which Horner suggested was a fair call.
“I think it was a bit optimistic [from Vettel] and I think the right result from the stewards happened,” he said. “He came from quite a way back and it is quick there with no big breaking in the corner and with Max you know he is not going to give an inch, so the outcome unfortunately was inevitable when that happened.
“You could see a few bits came off, so aerodynamically we lost a reasonable percentage of load, so he had to move his tools around to try to compensate for that. It wasn’t ideal, but he had enough in hand and enough pace at the end of the race to surprisingly challenge Valtteri on the different tires.”