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Ricciardo savours sweet taste of success in Malaysia

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Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia leaving pit lane after changing his tires during a pit stop while competing at the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit in Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Paul/Pool/Files
Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia leaving pit lane after changing his tires during a pit stop while competing at the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit in Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Paul/Pool/Files

By Abhishek Takle

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Daniel Ricciardo quenched his thirst for an elusive maiden win of the season with his trademark 'shoey' champagne celebration after winning Sunday’s Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix.

“I need a drink,” the exhausted Australian, who took the lead after world champion Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes retired with a blown engine that caught fire, told his Red Bull team on the cooldown lap of a hot and sweltering race.

Ricciardo, who led Max Verstappen in the first Red Bull one-two since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, wasted no time when he climbed the podium, pouring champagne into his racing boot and chugging it down in his now famous 'shoey' celebration.

Verstappen, team principal Christian Horner and even third-placed finisher Nico Rosberg were urged to get in on the act until compatriot Mark Webber, who was on the podium to conduct the post-race interviews and had himself shared a 'shoey' with Ricciardo in Belgium, threw the boot into the crowd.

“He’s had lots of second places this year,” Horner later told reporters. “It was great to see him get that victory.”

Sunday’s win was the fourth of Ricciardo’s career but first this season. The 27-year-old from Perth last won at the 2014 Belgian grand prix but has come agonisingly close on several occasions this year.

Ricciardo, on the podium after four of the last five races, lost what looked to be a certain victory in the showcase Monaco Grand Prix after a bungled pitstop handed it to Hamilton.

A strategy call cost him victory in May’s Spanish grand prix, which Verstappen won on his Red Bull debut instead, while he very nearly caught Rosberg in the dying stages of the last race in Singapore, only to miss out by less than half a second.

“I’m not sure still what happened to Lewis,” said Ricciardo, who engaged Verstappen in a brief wheel-to-wheel duel that evoked memories of the infamous 'Multi-21' team-orders controversy involving former Red Bull drivers Webber and Sebastian Vettel. “I like to think it’s evened out today.”

But while Ricciardo was savouring the sweet taste of success, not everybody enjoyed his return to the top of the podium, especially Rosberg who playfully pulled a sour face after sampling the 'shoey'. “I hope he does not win any more races this year!” the German joked.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)


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