Daniel Ricciardo started the Indian Grand Prix 11th and ran a strong race to finish in the points for the first time since Monza.
The Indian Grand Prix was the sort of race I enjoy: lots of challenges, some good running battles and a little reward at the end. Mid-race I thought we might have done a bit better than tenth, maybe a top eight, but we didn’t have the pace for that and had to settle for a point. Some weeks that wouldn’t be very satisfying but I’m really happy with the way I drove at Buddh. These last three race weekends I’ve been driving the best I have all year. You know when you’ve done a good job, so I’m leaving India and heading for Abu Dhabi in a really good mood.
Having done the last couple of races with the hard and medium tyres, switching to the medium and soft makes a real difference. It’s a more challenging weekend. The hard and the medium are pretty similar now, so you don’t really find much but the gap between the medium and the soft is much more pronounced. I think it’s nice to have a tyre for qualifying that’s a second faster but doesn’t last long – though obvious it does strange things in the race. You had guys pitting on lap one, which is pretty crazy.
I started the race on the prime tyre and JEV took the option. For me, that’s a mix of personal choice and team strategy. I wanted to start on the prime and when we’re both outside the top ten and there isn’t a clear way to go, the team often splits the strategy to give us the best chance of getting at least one car into the points. Usually the guy who qualifies better gets the choice and in India that was me – though I don’t think JEV was too bothered taking the alternative.
From here it’s a short flight to Abu Dhabi. Tuesday we’re going to be doing some training and taking a look around the city, then Wednesday I’ve got photoshoots and an evening function for some of our sponsors, then we’re straight back into race mode again – which if you’ve read this blog before you’ll know is how I like it.
Of all the new circuits, Yas is one of the better efforts. I’m not a big fan of the real open parts with the long straights and the big braking. They’re OK for overtaking but there’s not much to it. I do, however, really like the third sector, around and under the hotel. It’s got a bit more of a street circuit vibe and it’s good fun. Plus there’s the whole twilight racing thing. That’s a great idea, it seems to give the whole place a really good atmosphere and quite different to anywhere else.
Finally, a few words about Sebastian Vettel, my quadruple World Champion soon-to-be team-mate. Four times in a row… phenomenal! At the start of the season it looked like it could be anyone’s title shot but from the summer he’s not let anyone even look at the trophy. He’s just ran away with it. It’s very impressive and I can’t wait to have the best in the world as my team-mate. That’s the real challenge and an opportunity for me to see how good I am. Hopefully I’ll be giving him a tough run for his money.