Win boosts Ricciardo's title hopes Daniel Ricciardo (SG Formula), without a win since Budapest, has been struggling of late. Today, though, he returned to winning ways and earned himself a little more breathing space at the top of the Eurocup ...
Win boosts Ricciardo's title hopes
Daniel Ricciardo (SG Formula), without a win since Budapest, has been struggling of late. Today, though, he returned to winning ways and earned himself a little more breathing space at the top of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 standings. Roberto Merhi (Epsilon Euskadi) and Valtteri Bottas (Motopark Academy) joined the Australian on the podium, while Andrea Caldarelli (SG Formula) was left languishing in eighth place.
The sun was shining on the Estoril circuit as the drivers took to the track for the first race of the weekend. Daniel Ricciardo stood up well to Valtteri Bottas's aggression, finishing the first lap in the lead ahead of Bottas and Roberto Merhi, another man who got an excellent start.
Several early incidents caused the safety car to be brought out. Gabriel Dias (Fortec Competition), Daniel Zampieri (BVM Minardi Team), Pablo Montilla (Espilon Euskadi), Mathieu Arzeno (TCS Racing) and Luciano Barcheta (Hitech Junior Team) were the victims of an eventful first lap.
Five laps later, the safety car left the track and the race could get going again. Bottas was immediately right on Ricciardo's tail, but the Australian did not buckle under pressure and clung on to his lead. One lap later, at the start of lap 8, Roberto Merhi slipped past Valtteri Bottas on the outside and was soon pushing hard at Daniel Ricciardo.
In third place, Bottas was now having to work hard to hold off Jean-Eric Vergne, who himself was coming under pressure from Antonio Felix da Costa (Motopark Academy). Da Costa attempted to sneak past but Vergne held on to his fourth place. Further back, Andrea Caldarelli overtook Richard Singleton (Hitech Junior Team) to move into eighth position.
At the front of the field, the gaps between the drivers were relatively stable and Daniel Ricciardo seemed to have the measure of his rivals. The end of the race saw Anton Nebilistky (SG Formula) crash off the track. The red flags were brought out and that was that.
So Daniel Ricciardo takes his fifth race win of the season, ahead of Roberto Merhi and Valtteri Bottas. This win gives Daniel a bit of breathing space at the top of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 standings, but the title race is by no means over yet. Ricciardo now stands 13 points ahead of three drivers level on points: Valtteri Bottas, Roberto Merhi and Andrea Caldarelli.
Daniel Ricciardo: "Since Thursday, we haven't been at our best, but yesterday we had a really good debriefing with the whole team and we came up with the goods this morning with a nice pole position. The win was the result I was hoping for this afternoon. It'll certainly be tougher tomorrow, starting from third. I'll need a good start. It'll be an interesting race, I'm feeling good about it."
Roberto Merhi: "I could have gone faster in qualifying if it wasn't for the red flag. I got a very good start and moved up the field on the first lap. After the safety car had gone, I managed to get past Valtteri Bottas. I then tried to get up close to Daniel Ricciardo but he was too quick."
Valtteri Bottas: "It was a difficult race. The car was good but not perfect. I was fighting for the win, but I lost a bit of time after the safety car. Tomorrow I'm starting from pole with slightly fresher tyres."