It was a bag of mixed fortunes for Red Bull Racing pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen at the European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan on Sunday.
Ricciardo stunned the field by putting his Tilbrook-built RB12 on the front row on Saturday, but limped to seventh come raceday, while Verstappen, who struggled in qualifying and had to start ninth, improved to finish eighth.
Australian Ricciardo was running second in the early stages, but was clearly holding up the chasing field as race winner Nico Rosberg built an unassailable lead. After he was passed by Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, Ricciardo dropped like a stone, eventually recovering late on to finish seventh.
“We managed to hold second and I felt pretty good in the first few laps, especially as I could see Seb wasn’t catching me,” said Ricciardo. “After lap three we started to slide the rear and there was no way of controlling it.
“I went from being very optimistic about our race to being uncertain. I don’t think we had the wrong strategy, one stop would have been ideal but we had to adapt and were forced into a two stop race.
“I don’t think we could have done anything else today. We need to understand why because we usually perform well in hot races, like Singapore.
“Today was a bit unexpected. I got everyone’s hopes up yesterday by saying it could be the race of the season, It was, however, pretty uneventful.”
Verstappen also had an uneventful race. Avoiding any conflicts at the start, the Dutchman, racing his fourth race for Red Bull, made his way around the Baku street circuit without much incident, passing Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg on the penultimate lap to take eighth place.
He said: “My lap times were coming down very nicely – I managed to drive back to eighth and almost seventh.
“With the start position I had it was going to be difficult to catch the front guys, but I think in the end we did a good job. Of course you want to finish higher up but that was not possible today.
“I had the third-fastest lap today in the race so I can’t complain.”