Daniel Ricciardo is starting to make a habit of charging through the Formula One field with dazzling overtaking.
The Red Bull driver claimed his fifth career win in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June after starting 10th and went all the way from the back to fifth in the British GP in July.
The Australian did it again at Sunday’s Italian GP, slaloming through the field to finish just off the podium in fourth after another grid penalty imposed a 16th-place start.
“Two of my favorite races this year have been starting from the back Silverstone and this one,” Ricciardo said. “I had some real pace in the end.”
The moves in Monza added some much-needed excitement to a race that Lewis Hamilton dominated from start to finish.
“I think he’s one of the best overtakers out there. His judgment of being able to brake late enough for the apex is quite phenomenal,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, adding that Ricciardo’s driving reminded him of 1992 Formula One champion Nigel Mansell.
A bit too much wheel spin at the start meant Ricciardo remained 16th but as soon as he got a bit of open road to work with, he started passing one car after another.
After an expert pass of Force India driver Sergio Perez at the second chicane put Ricciardo firmly in the top 10, he became the last of the front-runners to visit the pits.
A perfectly executed stop prepared Ricciardo for an assault on Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen. On Lap 41 of the 53-lap race, Ricciardo blasted past Raikkonen at the end of the main straightaway when the Finn broke earlier entering the first chicane.
“I’ll give him the credit and say he raced clean and fair, but I would have done it on anyone to be honest,” Ricciardo said. “Especially when you are coming up through the field and you have that momentum, it doesn’t matter who you come up against.”
Sitting fourth, Ricciardo took aim at Sebastian Vettel in the other Ferrari. Ricciardo was gaining more than a second on Vettel each trip around the “Temple of Speed” and set the race’s quickest lap in the process but ultimately ran out of time.
“I could see Seb and the thought of a podium was tempting me, so I was obviously trying to catch him right up to the end,” Ricciardo said. “But I think then he was able to turn it up a bit and I was using every part of my tires.”
Still, the result meant Ricciardo extended his lead over Raikkonen in their battle for fourth place in the drivers’ standings. Ricciardo gained two more points than Raikkonen and is now six points ahead with seven races remaining.
“The boys did the quickest pit stop and I also got the fastest lap so that’s very cool,” added Ricciardo, who is among the fan favorites in Monza because of his Italian roots. “You can almost call it a perfect day. We couldn’t have done much more from where we started.
“Of course I wanted to be up there on the podium as it looked unreal, but I believe it will come next year.”