Sebastian Vettel was pleased to bring home his Red Bull Racing car fifth at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday after team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was forced to retire with suspension damage.
The four-time world champion was embroiled in a race-long battle with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso - the driver Vettel looks set to replace at Maranello - before making a move stick, but he was unable to catch McLaren’s Jenson Button for fourth in the closing stages.
Starting from sixth, Vettel was held up in the opening lap after a bold move from the other McLaren of Kevin Magnussen forced him to take evasive action, dropping him down the order, setting up the battle with Alonso.
Ricciardo meanwhile was forced out of the race with suspension failure, in what the Australian described as a ‘bit of a boring race’ as he closely followed the Vettel-Alonso dice ahead, without being able to make a move of his own to leap-frog the pair.
Braking into the Senna S, Ricciardo’s front left suspension buckled, forcing the Australian to radio to the pits, believing he’d had a brake failure.
However, replays and inspections confirmed suspension damage, eliminating Ricciardo for the first time since the Malaysian Grand Prix back in April.
“When I went into Turn One, the car went to the right and I knew there was a problem,” said Ricciardo afterwards. “I came into the pits and the team told me it was suspension failure and we retired.
“It had been a bit of a boring race, we were close to everyone but not close enough to have many fights; I would have liked to have had a bit more fun, but it didn’t really happen.
“It’s a shame, but I had a pretty good run until now, so I can’t be too greedy.”
For Vettel, after dispatching Alonso, his hunt for Button came to a premature end with the chequered flag, but overall, he was pleased with fifth.
Vettel said: “I had to fight hard to get the positions back during the race which we did, especially with strategy.
“I hoped to get maybe one more position to finish fourth, but in the end it was a good result for us here.”
The result means Red Bull secured second place in the constructors’ championship.
Team boss Christian Horner said: “Sebastian unfortunately lost some time on the first lap, but thereafter he recovered very well through good strategy and pit work to get back up to fifth, which I think was the maximum at this circuit.
“With Daniel, unfortunately we had a front suspension issue, he thought it might be a front brake, but in the end it turned out to be the front suspension that had failed so we need to investigate what happened.
“Despite all that, we managed to secure second in the Constructors’ Championship which, considering where we started the season, is a huge credit to the entire team for the fight back that we put up this year.
“We now look forward to the last race in Abu Dhabi.”