Ric­cia­rdo in top form af­ter fifth straight podium

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JEROME PUGMIRE

Daniel Ric­cia­rdo has found the “sweet spot” in a Red Bull car that is show­ing in­creas­ing signs of chal­leng­ing Fer­rari and Mercedes for pace.

Ric­cia­rdo se­cured a fifth con­sec­u­tive podium fin­ish with third place at the Aus­trian Grand Prix on Sun­day. It fol­lowed an im­pres­sive win in Azer­bai­jan two weeks ago and fur­ther ce­mented his grip on fourth spot in the For­mula One driver stand­ings.

With his trade­mark grin and ec­cen­tric podium rou­tine, the 28year-old Aus­tralian is the most jovial driver in F1. When on the podium, Ric­cia­rdo’s tra­di­tional rou­tine is to take off his shoe, fill it with cham­pagne, and hand it to one of the other driv­ers to take a sip be­fore gulp­ing the rest of it down.

Cold cham­pagne mixed with shoe sweat is an ac­quired taste. It seems to agree with Ric­cia­rdo, how­ever, and there could be a few more podium brews with 11 races left this sea­son.

“I’m get­ting more com­fort­able with the car. Things are mov­ing for­ward and I can see a lit­tle bit of a sweet spot,” Ric­cia­rdo said. “I feel we have good mo­men­tum. Five in a row is awe­some. You get the taste of a few podi­ums and you want a few more.”

Red Bull, which won four straight driv­ers’ and con­struc­tors’ ti­tles dur­ing Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s dom­i­nant spell from 2010-13, had con­cerns about whether it could keep up with Fer­rari and Mercedes. But it seems the gap in race speed is not as big as they feared.

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