F1'S SURPRISE WINNER: Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo claims his third win of the 2014 season in Belgium and is 35 points behind second-place Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers' standings. Image: AP/ Geert Vanden Wijngaert
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium - Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo has declared himself in the hunt for the 2014 Formula 1 championship after winning the 2014 Belgian GP on Sunday (August 24).
Before the title war between Mercedes team mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg exploded in Belgium nobody would have bet against a dominant victory for one or the other of the silver-clad duo.
However, as their personal battle resulted in on-track carnage at Spa-Francorchamps, Red Bull's surprise newcomer Ricciardo grinned through the melee to secure his second consecutive win.
It was Ricciardo's third win of the 2014 season and his career. The 2014 Drivers' standings shows he is only 35 points behind Hamilton for second and team boss Christian Horner said: "The fact that Daniel only has one win less than Nico is really remarkable."
Closing the 64-point gap to championship leader Rosberg is unlikely but it cannot be forgotten that the winner of the 2014 Abu Dhabi finale in November will secure 50 points.
It is enough of a concern for Mercedes that, following the 2014 Belgian GP, the dominant team will rethink its policy on team orders.
As was expected, Mercedes' engine advantage shone through on the long stretches at Spa-Francorchamps but Red Bull's Renault-powered car also looked quick in a straight line on Sunday.
'MONZA WILL BE TRICKY'
Ricciardo said: "I guess on TV you could see that the rear wing was pretty simple, there wasn't much to it but obviously it was a good package here and we'll see if the Monza wing can get any smaller!
"Monza we know will be tricky again but obviously the package we brought here was pretty racy and then I think Singapore and Suzuka will be pretty good for us."
Ricciardo acknowledged that winning the championship was a long shot but insisted he would keep pushing anyway: "If I'm within 50 points coming into Abu Dhabi then it's still mathematically possible - we'll keep fighting."
The added bonus for Ricciardo is that he has achieved his success alongside none other than reigning quadruple F1 champion Sebastian Vettel and his demeanour on Sunday (August 24) indicated he has yet to feel the weight of the growing pressure.
OVERCOMING MERC'S MIGHT
Ricciardo said: "I'm enjoying it more than ever. Each race that goes on I'm having more and more fun. The in-team battle has, let's say, gone really well. I think the team has been really pleased and I've been pleased so we're in a good place."
German TV commentator and former driver Marc Surer echoed Ricciardo's claim that the title could not be ruled out but also acknowledged that overcoming the might of Mercedes' dominance was unlikely.
Surer said: "That would be amazing and I almost can't imagine it. Of course, if it carries on like this and looking at the (double) points situation for the final race, then it is possible. "
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