Daniel Ricciardo has no regrets about the first-lap collision at the Brazil Grand Prix which nearly resulted in his third Formula One non-finish in a row.
The Australian finished sixth at Interlagos on Sunday in the season’s penultimate race, after starting 14th due to a 10-place grid penalty.
But the Red Bull star’s efforts to make up places early on lap one almost backfired when was involved in a three-way collision on the second turn, which took Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren-Honda) out of the race.
Ricciardo was bumped in the rear, causing him to spin across the bows of both cars, by Vandoorne, who had collided with the front left of Magnussen.
Ricciardo admitted he was fortunate to escape with a slashed tyre from the incident.
“The start was not ideal,” he said.
“It was quite tight and I saw a space on the outside so I tried to get as much room as I could but I knew there were two cars on the inside so there was always a risk they would have contact and then come into me.
“I think that’s what happened but I don’t regret trying.
“The start is an opportunity to make up a big chunk of positions and as I was nearly at the back I had to try something.
“Fortunately the car didn’t suffer any damage. We just changed the tyres and then I could get on with the race and make some good overtakes.”
Ricciardo had not finished a race since his third place in Japan in early October after engine problems in subsequent United States and Mexico grands prix.
“In the end, a comfortable sixth. It was nice to see the chequered flag and I felt I got the maximum out of it today,” he said.
His drive earned the praised of Red Bull boss Christian Horner, a positive sign as Ricciardo prepares for negotiations with the team ahead of his contract expiring at the end of 2018.
“Daniel drove a very strong race as usual, made some great passing moves on the brakes from far back into turn one and finished in P6 which today was probably the optimum,” Horner said.
Ricciardo, who is fighting to hang onto fourth in the drivers’ championship, has already achieved a career-best nine podiums this season but has just one race victory.
His prospects for the season finale in Abu Dhabi on November 26 are up in the air given his second-straight grid penalty for his team’s replacing of parts in his car’s Renault power unit.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won in Brazil but recently-crowned four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton produced the drive of the day.
Hamilton started from pitlane after changes to his car following a crash in qualifying to finish fourth.