Daniel Ricciardo believes Renault was within reach of its long-awaited first podium since its comeback at Formula 1’s Tuscan Grand Prix, prior to Lance Stroll’s race-halting crash.
Ricciardo was running in third place in the latter stages of the race, ahead of Stroll and Alexander Albon.
However, a red flag was deployed after Stroll crashed out, placing Albon right behind the Australian driver for the restart with 13 laps remaining.
Despite a less-than-ideal getaway, Albon closed up on Ricciardo and passed him around the outside of Turn 1 on lap 51 to take his first career podium.
“I felt like the first two stints, he [Albon] was hanging there with Stroll and myself, but it never felt like he had a lot more pace,” Ricciardo said.
“But then with low fuel and soft tyres, his car came alive a little more.
“It was the last sector, that’s where you catch onto the DRS, he broke my DRS very quickly. So I didn’t really have an answer.”
While Renault excelled at the low-downforce circuits of Spa and Monza, it was expected to drop back slightly in the midfield fight around Mugello.
But as that didn’t prove to be the case, Ricciardo says Renault can take encouragement to upcoming circuits.
“I think that’s really encouraging,” he said. “Spa and Monza, we knew they’d be strong for us.
“This circuit, I wouldn’t say we had the highest of expectations but putting the lap together yesterday, we were P5 and obviously we had top five pace all race.
“So it’s encouraging for some circuits going forward.”