The Malaysian Grand Prix seemed to bring out the best and worst sporting attitudes in Formula One drivers. The winner Daniel Ricciardo, like the true gent he seems to be, dedicated his victory to the late Jules Bianchi.
Still buzzing. Yesterday was pretty great. Thanks for all the kind & positive messages. And to everyone at @redbullracing cheers homies!
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) October 3, 2016
The Aussie and the Frenchman were very close friends as well as racing colleagues and a clearly emotional Ricciardo stood on the top spot of the podium with an expression of both relief and elation.
“I want to dedicate this one to Jules. I’ve been waiting for a victory, waiting to dedicate this to him.
My life changed since that incident. I’m extremely grateful and appreciative of everything I’ve got.”
– Daniel Ricciardo
The smiling assassin hasn’t won a race since the incident in Japan 2014 so it will clearly be a relief that he can finally pay homage to his friend as a race winner. The victory wasn’t an easy one though as Ricciardo had to fight a closely contested dogfight with team-mate Max Verstappen. On the inter-team battle, he said,
“We were absolutely allowed to race and the team got on Max’s radio as well, I believe. My engineer said: ‘You will race Max, so we’re asking you to bring the cars home but you are allowed to fight.’ It was clear we could keep at it – just nothing silly I guess.
This is a big moment. When I crossed the line I didn’t know what to do. The celebration felt a bit strange. It sunk in pretty quick. I held off Max well – we fought hard and clean and I think the team will respect us for that.”
– Daniel Ricciardo
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) October 2, 2016
Despite the dominance of Mercedes this season, Ricciardo finds himself still in contention for the World Championship. It’s a long shot given the gap to Rosberg is currently 84-points, but there are 125 points still on offer and Mercedes might take the next five races very cautiously given their unreliability in the engine department.
But this moment wasn’t really about the World Championship, it was about a grounded athlete paying his respects to a fallen friend – some things are more important than sport and Ricciardo deserves massive respect for his gesture.