Ricciardo eyes up a 2017 title shot
Daniel Ricciardo is looking forward to some time off after F1's 2016 season came to an end on Sunday, but has half an eye on next year already.
The Australian has third place in the championship sewn up long before heading to the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, so his lonely fifth place finish was academic.
Ricciardo ended the campaign with eight podium finishes, including a race win in Malaysia, and now with three months before he gets back in the car, he says he's got half an eye on next year already.
"I’m not going to get too caught up with thinking about next year, but if we woke up in February for testing and the car’s quick then you’ll see me fighting for it (the title).
"Looking at the season overall I’m super happy and very pleased with the year. It’s definitely been more highs than lows this year with a lot of podiums, satisfying races and a good chunk of points. I got amongst it when I could so I think it was a good 2016 for sure."
Starting third, Ricciardo was jumped at the start by Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. Further back, Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen spun and dropped to the back of the pack. But making his tyres last, Verstappen was able to climb back through the field and remain ahead of Ricciardo and the two Ferraris.
After battling with Raikkonen following the first round of stops though, Ricciardo was unable to keep pace with the leading pack and dropped back. He did eventually get the better of the Finn, having stopped earlier to under cut him, but was passed by Sebastian Vettel, whose late charge saw him snatch the final podium spot behind Lewis Hamilton and world champion Nico Rosberg.
But after a fairly anonymous race, Ricciardo said he wasn't too down with the final result.
He said: “I don’t want to be too down as I’m still fifth. I’m just frustrated in how the strategy played out in the end. We had the supersofts at the start and it was still going pretty well and we tried to make a move on Kimi. For sure it was close but we didn’t pull it off and that really hurt me.
"I think we should have just gone long and one-stopped but in hindsight it’s always easy to say.
"I saw Max spin in mirrors in turn 1, so I thought he was out of the race and then he does a one-stop and fights for the podium so he did well. I just feel we hurt with the two-stop strategy as the supersoft was a good tyre today."