Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing pulled off a sensational win at the Chinese Grand Prix.
“It’s a fun way to win for sure”, Ricciardo told Sky F1 after taking the lead in less than 20 laps, pulling off overtaking manoeuvres on the likes of reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, Raikkonen and Bottas.
Only a minor miracle by his mechanics that were well-intentioned allowed him to be eligible sixth, placing Ricciardo in the suitable location for you to capitalise to the safety vehicle that frees the race rsquo & Red Bull;s way.
Valtteri Bottas appeared on course to claim his victory after a strategy error by Ferrari allowed the Mercedes auto to move ahead of Vettel during their one and only round of pit stops. “They’re all pretty fun”, said an elated Ricciardo, who filled one of his shoes with champagne on the podium and chugged it in what has become a signature “shoey” victory celebration.
Ricciardo’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season and he has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari.
Australia’s Ricciardo, eight years’ Verstappen’s senior, showed far greater maturity than his team-mate, with bold moves on Hamilton and then Bottas, but moves that were executed with millimetre precision. “We just got a bit unlucky – but that happens sometimes”.
“That was obviously giving us a good little bit of grip on the restart”, Ricciardo said.
“We didn’t assume we went to escape only in qualifying and over twenty four hours later, now to be here.this game’so insane”. There’s no clear favorite and plenty of questions. Hamilton finished fourth on Sunday and was never a factor.
While Vettel retained his lead at the start, Bottas squeezed past the second Ferrari of Raikkonen and set off in pursuit of the German, who had been hoping to make it a hat-trick of victories in China.
The Australian started slowly following a turbo failure earlier in the weekend, that saw him just a few minutes away from not starting the race, but a clever pit strategy on the day saw him and his team-mate Max Verstappen make up ground on the race leaders.
Max Verstappen admitted that he was “disappointed with [himself]” after a Chinese Grand Prix in which he received a ten-second penalty for a collision with Sebastian Vettel. His teammate Verstappen soon unsuccessfully attempted to follow suit and the two cars touched, dropping the Dutchman to fifth and Vettelto seventh.
The result sees Vettel still in the lead of the driver’s championship but only by nine points over Hamilton, the two tallying 54 and 45 points, respectively, after the first three rounds.
And with Mercedes’ poor decision-making on not pitting during the safety auto, Hamilton had no grip to defend Verstappen and Ricciardo, and subsequently finished fourth. Ricciardo took advantage of his fresh rubber to outbrake Raikkonen at the hairpin, taking fifth place.
“Saturday and Sunday felt like a disaster from my side”, Hamilton said.