Daniel Ricciardo is confident he could have scored a fifth-place finish in the Mexico City Grand Prix, if it were not for the red flag.
On Lap 33 of 71, the race was suspended after Kevin Magnussen suffered a rear suspension failure at high speed, resulting in damage to the barriers at Turn 9, with Ricciardo running fifth at the time.
At the restart, the AlphaTauri driver fell behind George Russell's Mercedes and then behind the charging Lando Norris - and despite a late challenge to Russell, came home in seventh to bank the team's best result since Pierre Gasly's fifth-place in the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix - a position Ricciardo felt he should have matched.
In scoring points, Ricciardo helped move AlphaTauri off the bottom of the Constructors' table and climb to eighth on 16 points for the season, ahead of Alfa Romeo on countback and four ahead of Haas.
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Ricciardo reacts to Russell battle
“I don't know if Lando's pace in that second half of the race was as good as the first half because he was very quick,” Ricciardo told media including RacingNews365.
“We were holding Oscar [Piastri] at bay, at least at that moment. I was like 'This could be a nice, lonely fifth place' and I was okay with that.
“So I definitely think we could have been better than seventh, let’s say that, without the red flag. But that's racing.
“On one hand, you could say [it was] unlucky but still it can always be worse.
“The restart, we could have had a crash or something, so to come through, I'm happy."
In his late attack on Russell, Ricciardo explained how Norris actually helped the Mercedes fall back into his clutches after scything past.
“Lando getting George probably hurt George's tyres a little bit, so that brought him back to me," said Ricciardo.
“I probably didn't expect to get that close. At one point, I was trying to go around the outside, but I could see we were both probably going to run off so I had to abort the mission.
“He did well to defend. So we tried but I think ultimately just to be battling a Mercedes at the end, that makes me more happy than just missing out on sixth.”