SINGAPORE -- Outgoing McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo says he resisted the temptation to be a "hero" during an action-packed Singapore Grand Prix, a decision which saw him secure fifth place, his best result of the season.
With the Marina Bay circuit slowly drying, following monsoonal showers in the build-up, the timing of the switch from intermediate tyres to slicks was to be crucial for teams and drivers.
Ricciardo started the race in 16th and struggled to make ground early as conditions proved to be treacherous. But his race turned on lap 35 when the majority of the field pulled the trigger on the tyre switch; he and McLaren teammate Lando Norris opting to stay out on track.
Persisting with the intermediate rubber paid immediate dividends when a safety car was deployed on the following lap - Yuki Tsunoda having put his AlphaTauri into the run-off barriers at Turn 7. With the pace car at the head of the field, Ricciardo was able to make a free stop which saw him jump to sixth.
The Australian would pick up another place at the restart when championship leader Max Verstappen locked up and ran deep in a failed overtake attempt on Norris into Turn 7.
"We certainly had some fortune. But I feel like ... finally," Ricciardo said after the race, which was won by Red Bull's Sergio Perez. "I also think we were patient and mature by not jumping to the slick. It was very tempting, especially when you're just outside the points, to be a hero and try and make something happen.
"But we had the conversations and I said 'as much as I want to be a hero, it didn't feel right'. We thought, let's just keep going. In my mind I thought the track is very slippery, especially on a slick, so the chance of someone going off is high. So all we need is a safety car to pit and we gain a lot of positions. It was an ideal scenario for us."
McLaren came to Singapore with an update which was only fitted to Norris' car. Afterwards, Ricciardo joked; "with the upgrade, I think I'd be fighting Perez today."
The result could not have come at a better time for Ricciardo who is currently without a seat in Formula One for 2023 after McLaren reached a settlement to conclude his three-year contract a year early. They have since announced Oscar Piastri as his replacement for next year.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding his future, Ricciardo insists the pressure is off and he has nothing to lose in the final five races of the season.
"I'm not fighting for a championship. I don't need to be cautious or anything," he said. "I can just go out there and drive and have some fun ... try and get some results."