Having been damaged and dead last after the first lap, Daniel Ricciardo’s fight back to grab two points for Toro Rosso was something special – though he left it pretty late in the day to get into the top 10.'
'That was… crazy. I haven’t had my debrief yet, haven’t changed out of my overalls, so you may know more about what happened in Albert Park today than I do but from where I was sitting it was a pretty intense afternoon.
As I limped back to the pits on the first lap, if someone had told me I’d be finishing ninth I’d have said ‘no way’. I was convinced we had more damage than just a front wing but the team changed that and said I was good to go. The car was still, let’s say, acting a little strange but it was good enough to stay out and keep going.
My engineer came on the radio and gave me the times of the leaders and also the people we were nominally racing against – though at that time I was a long way behind and not really racing against anybody – I saw we were quite competitive and I pushed on. Obviously the Safety Car helped me catch up to everyone, and then it was just a case of trying to do what we could to make the most of the situation.
I’d picked up the damage at the first corner. I wouldn’t define it as someone hitting me or me hitting someone, it’s too chaotic in there to use language like that. I’m pretty sure there was a Red Bull in front, and Jean-Eric on the outside of me and maybe Alonso or Maldonado on the other side. I’ll figure it out when I see a replay – or maybe I won’t because sometimes that still doesn’t help.
I’d thought my start was pretty good but when I saw my team-mate on the outside of me I realised the corner was going to be bit close and then it all bobbled up. Lots of cars were jostling and it was pretty intense.
After pitting for a new nose it took me a while to clear my head. I was down on myself after what happened at the first corner and it was a job to keep composed and get back on it. But when I saw the safety car was out I realised I had an opportunity to turn it around. In that second phase of the race it all just fell into place.
The last lap was wild. I saw most of the drama unfold in front on me. I went past one of the Mercedes, which was moving pretty slowly with some damage and got a good run out of the fast chicane at Turns 11 & 12. Jean-Eric was in front of me and he covered into 13, so I knew that maybe I could get a switchback. I dropped back to second gear, I think he was in second as well and we both came out of the corner sideways. I managed to get a better run and hold on to the place.
Crossing the line I had no idea what position I was in. I thought 11th. Maybe 10th but honestly I thought 11th. When my engineer came on the radio and said ‘P9, well done’, I thought that was crazy.
Someone’s just mentioned that I’m not the first Australian driving for this team to score two points in his first Australian Grand Prix. Honestly that hadn’t crossed my mind! But then ten years ago Mark had to finish fifth to get them, so it’s not quite the same – but I am feeling pretty good right now. Disregarding the first turn, everything was pretty cool. I’m proud of 90 per cent of the day.
It does feel good to beat your team-mate – it wouldn’t be human to think otherwise – but it would have been nice for both of us to finish in the points. The good thing is we both have good pace and we were both strong today. If we can continue that hopefully we’ll have some strong results in the future.
Certainly this gives us confidence going to Malaysia but at the same time Albert Park has a reputation as a unique race so we’ll be keeping our feet on the ground. We’ll obviously push like hell to get further up the grid next weekend but we’ll know a lot more after Friday practice than we do right now.
I’m staying in Melbourne tomorrow to spend a bit of time with my family and to chill out a bit, and then I’ll be going up to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. I know Sepang fairly well, as I did a lot of Formula BMW there, I also know what it’s like when the weather hits the track– it might make this race look very straightforward!'
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