Daniel Ricciardo could not hide his overwhelming happiness after his unexpected race win in the Malaysian GP. The young Australian said in the post-race interview that he dedicated his triumph to Jules Bianchi.
The now four-time GP-winner said that he expected himself to win at least a GP in this campaign, but he could not hope that the Sepang International Circuit would be the track of his next success.
“What a day, I’m feeling a bit emotional and overwhelmed! It’s been a long time between drinks! A couple of weeks ago I said we’d win a race this year but to be honest I didn’t expect a win to come at this circuit.”
Ricciardo kept his spectacular celebration alive after his win on the podium and drank some champagne from his shoe. He also offered his boss Christian Horner, his team-mate Max Verstappen and Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg a ‘shoe of champagne’.
“This is probably the sweatiest race to win and do a shoey, but for me it’s not so bad, I felt a bit sorry for the others though having to drink from my shoe, but the crowd was encouraging me! We had an opportunity today that we needed to capitalise on and I was determined to not let it go.”
The Perth-born driver who started the race from the fourth position had to take on the battle against his team-mate Max Verstappen who executed a different, more aggressive strategy because of his early first pit stop.
“We had a good battle with Max, he is a hard racer and we have that in common. We fought hard and aggressive but I think we showed we can push to the limit but still keep it on the track. We had a fair and clean fight and I think we both enjoyed it. My tyres were a little more tired than his but I was going to hold him off as long as I could.”
“When the Virtual Safety Car came out and we both came into the pits for new tyres, that made me a little more comfortable for the last stint.”
The Australian was delighted by the progress his team has made over the season and especially compared to last year when it was struggling for pace.
“This year has been an awesome year of progression for the team. We started the year a step higher from last year and kept going and getting better, and it really is amazing to win at this circuit. I want to thank the team for making this all possible and I’m very grateful for today. After Monaco I had a lot of mixed emotions and it was a hard one to take but I felt as a team we came through that stronger and better.”
Finally, Ricciardo said a big thank you to his parents and sister for motivating and helping him on his difficult way towards the pinnacle of motorsport. He also said that he has been waiting for his first win after the tragic death of Jules Bianchi to be able to dedicate it to the beloved, talented Frenchman.
“I want to thank my parents and my sister as well for the support they gave me growing up. I also want to dedicate the win to Jules (Bianchi), I have been waiting for a victory to dedicate to him. My life definitely changed since that incident and I am extremely grateful and appreciative of everything I’ve got,” said Ricciardo emotionally.