Opportunistic Ricciardo scores Chinese GP win

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo made the most of an inspired Red Bull strategy sparked by a late Safety Car to win the Chinese Grand Prix following a frantic run to the flag.

The Red Bull driver held sixth for the majority of the 56 lap encounter before the race was turned on its head when the Safety Car was deployed on lap 31.

Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly tapped team-mate Brendon Hartley into a spin, leaving debris on the track at Turn 14.

Red Bull elected to fit fresh soft tyres to both Ricciardo and Verstappen while Ferrari and Mercedes chose to hold station for the remaining 15 laps when racing resumed.

As a result, the Red Bulls surged up the order initially led by Verstappen, who was fourth behind Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).

Ricciardo soon passed Raikkonen before taking advantage of a mistake from Verstappen as he ran wide as he attempted to pass Hamilton.

He quickly pulled off a series of slick overtakes on Hamilton, Vettel and then Bottas for the lead at Turn 5 on lap 45, before going on to score an unlikely sixth career race win from sixth on the grid.

Bottas managed to hold on to second while Raikkonen leapt from sixth to third in the final laps.

The Finn was aided by another error from Verstappen, who spun early race leader and polesitter Vettel at Turn 14 on lap 43.

Verstappen crossed the line in fourth but was handed a 10-second penalty for punting Vettel into a spin, which saw him classified in fifth.

Hamilton appeared to struggle throughout the race and in particular on worn tyres in the final laps to finish fourth.

Championship leader Vettel limped home in eighth after losing positions to Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Vettel had made no mistakes at the start as he blocked the advances of his team-mate Raikkonen to hold the lead into Turn 1.

The German’s move did however halt Raikkonen which allowed Bottas to leapfrog the Ferrari into second while a fast starting ultra soft shod Red Bull of Verstappen followed suit later on the opening lap.

Meanwhile, Hamilton dropped a position to fifth ahead of Ricciardo.

Vettel quickly opened up a comfortable lead over Bottas as the top six soon became strung out having broke away from the rest of the field.

A stalemate between the top six was eventually broken by Red Bull who prompted the first round of stops when they brought Verstappen and Ricciardo in on lap 18 to switch from ultrasofts to medium rubber.

This triggered Bottas to dive into the pits to perform an undercut on leader Vettel.

Ferrari were caught off-guard as Vettel rejoined behind Bottas after he took service, while Raikkonen stayed out.

After losing the lead, Raikkonen was used to back up Bottas into Vettel before he eventually took his pit stop.

However, while the move closed the gap between the top two it proved to no avail as a late Safety Car saw Red Bull use a two-stop strategy to help guide Ricciardo to victory.

Renault’s Carlos Sainz and Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top 10.

New Zealand’s Hartley was forced to retire from the race after the clash with Gasly that saw the Frenchman pick up a 10-second time penalty for causing the crash.

Vettel now holds an 11 point lead over Hamilton as the championship heads to Azerbaijan for Round 4 from April 27-29.

Result: Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix

Position Driver Car Laps Gap
1 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 56 1h35m36.380s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 56 8.894s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 56 9.637s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56 16.985s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 56 20.436s
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 56 21.052s
7 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 56 30.639s
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 56 35.286s
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 56 35.763s
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 56 39.594s
11 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 56 44.050s
12 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 56 44.725s
13 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 56 49.373s
14 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 56 55.490s
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 56 58.241s
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 56 1m02.604s
17 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 56 1m05.296s
18 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 56 1m06.330s
19 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 56 1m19.066s
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 51 Not running

Championship Standings

Position Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 54
2 Lewis Hamilton 45
3 Valtteri Bottas 40
4 Daniel Ricciardo 37
5 Kimi Raikkonen 30
6 Fernando Alonso 22
7 Nico Hulkenberg 22
8 Max Verstappen 18
9 Pierre Gasly 12
10 Kevin Magnussen 11
11 Stoffel Vandoorne 6
12 Carlos Sainz 3
13 Marcus Ericsson 2
14 Esteban Ocon 1
15 Sergio Perez 0
16 Charles Leclerc 0
17 Romain Grosjean 0
18 Lance Stroll 0
19 Sergey Sirotkin 0
20 Brendon Hartley 0


Position Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 85
2 Ferrari 84
3 Red Bull/Renault 55
4 McLaren/Renault 28
5 Renault 25
6 Toro Rosso/Honda 12
7 Haas/Ferrari 11
8 Sauber/Ferrari 2
9 Force India/Mercedes 1
10 Williams/Mercedes 0

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