Ricciardo started sixth on the grid in the team’s R.S.20 car but was soon past Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Retirement for Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas ahead meant suddenly made the chance of third place a real possibility but still the hard work was not done…
Ricciardo knew he would have to nurse his second set of tyres through a long final stint to the chequered flag, but fortune was on his and the Renault DP World F1 Team’s side thanks to a late safety car period.
This enabled Ricciardo to pit without losing a position for another set of fresh tyres and with the extra grip, he was able to hold off Perez to claim the final step on the podium.
The result marks the first top-three finish for Renault as an entry under its own name in F1 since Robert Kubica took third position for it in 2010’s Belgian GP.
Moreover, after a sequence of strong results, it has catapulted Ricciardo up to fourth in the drivers’ standings. Renault still holds fifth in constructors’ table but it is now just six points adrift of Racing Point in third.
And there could have been more – Ricciardo’s team-mate Esteban Ocon was on course for what he felt would have been a fifth-place result at the Nürburgring until an hydraulic problem with his car forced him to retire in the Renault pit garage.
It was yet another strong performance by the Renault pairing after they had again been on the pace in the preceding race around Russia’s Sochi street circuit. There, Ricciardo finished fifth and Ocon seventh.
Of his Nürburgring result, Ricciardo enthused: “Oh wow, it feels like the first time I ever got a podium. These emotions and that feeling you get when you get out the car, hug the team, the mechanics slapping you on the helmet, it’s just amazing and I am so happy we did it!
“It’s obviously my first one with Renault and it’s something I wanted to achieve when I set out on this journey with the team.”
He added: “I felt like it was coming with our performances in recent races, so I am so happy to have done it. The race itself was pretty tight and there was some discussion on whether to pit for a second stop or not, but we had the luxury of track position. The safety car then gave us an advantage, so we made that call and in the end, it was the right one. What a day!”
Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “It’s a great feeling and I would like to share this emotion we had at the track with every team member. It’s been a huge, huge journey to get here and today is a milestone. We earned that podium: we’ve seen it coming for some time. We have had the potential to be there and today we had the right circumstances. While we might need events in front to happen, we have a car that is a good all-rounder and when this type of opportunity comes we have the right team to capitalise.”
As this went to press, six races remained on 2020’s F1 calendar, beginning with the return of the Portuguese GP – the first since 1996 – at a ‘first-time’ circuit, Portimao.
The returning Imola (Italy) and Istanbul Park (Turkey) circuits then follow on 1 and 15 November – their first since 2006 and 2011 respectively.
Rounding out the calendar are two races at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit – albeit on different configurations on 29 Nov and 26 December – with the season finale then at its traditional venue of Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi on 13 Dec.