‘Emotional’ Ricciardo elated to end two-year win drought

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2016 Malaysian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo says “it’s a lot to take in” after securing his first victory in two years following a thrilling race in Sepang.

The Australian took advantage of Lewis Hamilton retiring from a comfortable lead with an engine issue to end a success drought that dated back to the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo had already been delivering a very strong campaign up to this point but the 27-year-old admits he was eager to make up for the disappointment of missing out on a likely victory in Monaco earlier this season.

“What a day, I realise what’s happened but a lot went down in the last two hours,” said and exhausted-looking Ricciardo after the race. “There is a lot to take in. It feels awesome for sure and I feel really grateful for it.

“It’s been an emotional two years since the last win and we’ve come so close this year and two weeks ago after the race I said we’d won this year and we got one so a big thanks to Red Bull and everyone who has supported me through this journey.”

Ricciardo was not handed victory on a silver platter though. The now four-time grand prix winner had to fend off a fierce challenge from his team-mate Max Verstappen just before Hamilton’s engine issue brought out a second Virtual Safety Car period and both Red Bulls stopped for fresh soft tyres at the same time.

“Max pitted under the VSC at the start and put the soft on and at that point it looked like his strategy was working out very well for him.

“I had to hold him towards that mid-part of the race just as Lewis had his problem. That was a good battle. Max was on a little bit fresher tyres so I knew he’d come at some point but obviously I was trying everything I could to hold him off and it was fun.

“It was hard racing. Sure, we both were determined to win but I think we did it very fair with a lot of respect. I thank him for that and it goes both ways.”

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