MONTMELO, Spain (AP) — Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo stepped onto the Formula One podium for the first time in 55 attempts on Sunday after finishing a distant third behind both Mercedes cars at the Spanish Grand Prix.
In a weekend dominated by winner Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, Red Bull drivers Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel also had positive performances come race time.
Ricciardo defended his third-place start position after being passed by Valtteri Bottas of Williams seconds into the race. That made up for some of his frustration earlier this year when a second-place finish at his home Australian GP was erased after Ricciardo was disqualified for a breach of fuel regulations.
“It’s really nice to be on the podium and I’m sure I will get to keep this one,” Ricciardo said from the winner’s stand at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit.
“I actually still feel a bit awkward up there, but I’m sure I will get more comfortable,” he said. “Unfortunately we’re not going to catch Mercedes. At least this weekend we weren’t going to, so a lonely third was not a bad result in my mind.”
Ricciardo was promoted from sister team Toro Rosso to replace Mark Webber as Vettel’s driving partner this season. The 24-year-old Australian has made a strong debut by finishing ahead of defending four-time champion Vettel in the last three races.
Vettel rebounded from two days spoiled by his malfunctioning car by maneuvering from a 15th-place start to finish fourth.
With his car finally proving reliable, Vettel used a three-pit stop strategy to overtake a series of frontrunners that included Ferrari pair Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
“Daniel is thoroughly deserving of his first official podium, having been faultless all weekend,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. “Sebastian, after a nightmare start to the weekend losing all of Friday, a gearbox failure on Saturday and a further five-place grid penalty, produced a fantastic comeback drive to come back through the field.”
Red Bull stayed in second place in the constructor’s championship with 84 points, far behind Mercedes’ 197.