Daniel Ricciardo believes he “definitely” could’ve finished higher than seventh in the Mexico Grand Prix without the red flag stoppage.

Having endured a tough return outing in the United States, Ricciardo excelled from the outset at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, winding up fourth in qualifying.

Although Lewis Hamilton soon overtook him on Lap 11, the Australian was comfortably sitting fifth when Kevin Magnussen’s hefty crash prompted a red flag on Lap 33.

Ricciardo, who could only opt for the Hard tyre on the restart, lost out to George Russell on Mediums at the second start before the recovering Lando Norris also passed him.

“I think everything was actually working pretty well,” he reflected. “Honestly the red flag I think hurt us. But I don’t want to say it too selfishly, because there was a big accident, I believe a car failure, so nothing Kevin could do. Yes, as much as that hurt our race, I would like to think because strategy and everything was looking pretty smooth; obviously the main thing is he’s OK.

“It obviously bunched everyone up and allowed some cars to use the Mediums, which we didn’t have. So yeah. I think at that point, it was probably a bit more nervous on [the] pit wall, but to still come out with seventh and six points, and nearly eight points, we got very close to George at the end, I think big picture, we have to be very happy.”

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) AlphaTauri AT04. 29.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day.

With Russell increasingly struggling in the latter laps, Ricciardo closed up and had a look into Turn 4 on the final tour, but his advances were rebuffed by the Briton.

However, Ricciardo asserts that even battling a Mercedes in his AlphaTauri usurped the frustration of marginally missing out on securing an extra points position.

“I was honestly trying as much as I could,” he said regarding the late tussle. “It was a little weird, at the start of the stint, I didn’t feel as good as towards the end. It felt like it took me a little bit to get a rhythm with the tyre.

“Then the last probably 10 laps, I was able to really start pushing harder, and yeah, I think Lando getting George probably hurt George’s tyres a little bit, so that brought him back to me.

“It was tough. I probably didn’t expect to get that close. When you’re that close, you’re like ah, we could’ve! But he protected well in Turn 4. At one point, I was trying to go on the outside, but I could see we were both going to run off and had to abort mission. He did well, he did well to defend.

“We tried, but yeah. I think ultimately, just to be battling a Mercedes at the end, that makes me more happy than just missing out on sixth.”

While he is unsure whether he could have held Norris at bay, Ricciardo is certain he would have bettered seventh if the race hadn’t been suspended midway through.

“I don’t know if Lando’s pace in that second half of the race was as good as the first half,” he assessed. “Yeah, we were let’s say holding Oscar [Piastri] at bay.

“We had gaps… it felt like at that moment, I was like, this could be a nice, lonely fifth place, and I was OK with that.

“I definitely think we could have been better than seventh, let’s say that, without the red. That’s racing. On one hand, you could say unlucky, but it can always be worse. The restart we could have had a crash or something, so to still come through, I’m happy.”

Ricciardo’s six-point haul followed up Yuki Tsunoda’s five points from Austin last weekend, elevating AlphaTauri into eighth position in the Constructors’ Championship.

“I think after last week, Yuki got five points and it was huge for the team, everyone was cartwheeling and backflipping,” he remarked. “A week later to do six points, I’m very happy.”

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