Ricciardo wins in Shanghai after late race chaos

  • 15 Apr 2018 09:49
  • comments 17
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Daniel Ricciardo has won the Chinese Grand Prix ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen after a mid-race safety car allowed Red Bull to alter its strategy. Ricciardo takes his first victory since the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and the sixth of his Formula 1 career.

The Australian's weekend looked bleak on Saturday morning after an engine failure in free practice three meant he was in a race against time to make it out for qualifying. However, after lining up oin sixth for the race, the 28-year-old had a late surge to take the win in Shanghai.

Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel led the race comfortably during the first stint, ahead of Mercedes' Bottas. The Finn managed to get past his compatriot Raikkonen at the first corner, and slotted into second place behind Vettel who held a gap of around 3.5 seconds at its peak. Vettel's race, however, would eventually turn to disappointment as he was hit late on by Max Verstappen.

Red Bull started the Grand Prix on the ultra soft tyres, with Verstappen getting into third place after the first lap. The energy drink team were the first to blink when it came to the pit stop phase of the race, double-stacking the cars on lap 18.

The two Bulls fitted the medium tyre with the aim to go to the end of the race, and they were soon followed by the Mercedes pair. Lewis Hamilton came in on lap 19 to cover the Red Bulls, while Bottas followed in on lap 20. 

Bottas pulled an impressive undercut and managed to get ahead of Vettel after the German pitted on the very next lap. Bottas held the net lead ahead of Vettel, as Ferrari opted to keep Kimi Raikkonen out on the soft tyres for longer.

Bottas wasn't long closing Raikkonen down, running on fresh medium tyres. Vettel stuck with him all the way, and followed Bottas through when the Mercedes driver made a move on Raikkonen into Turn 4 on lap 27.

Raikkonen then pitted for his medium tyres, but dropped down into sixth place. However, his race was soon to be salvaged after a safety car was deployed when the Toro Rosso duo of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley came together at the Turn 14 hairpin.

The safety car was deployed right after leaders Bottas and Vettel passed the pit lane entrance, but Red Bull pounced and brought Verstappen and Ricciardo in together for a fresh set of the yellow-walled soft compound. Hamilton and Raikkonen stayed out on their medium tyres.

After the safety car returned to the pits on lap 35, it was clear that the Red Bulls were the fastest cars on track. Ricciardo pulled a move on Raikkonen to take P5, while up ahead, Verstappen was attacking Hamilton for third place.

However, the Dutchman ran wide at Turn 5 after attempting to get around the outside of Hamilton. The incident allowed Ricciardo through into P4, and on the very next lap, the eventual race winner pulled off another trademark divebomb move on the four-time champion at Turn 14.

Two laps later, Verstappen had caught back up to the rear of Hamilton, and made no mistake in the second time of asking, passing the Briton for fourth place. Vettel, who was struggling on his medium tyres, had no answer for Ricciardo who flew past on the back straight.

Ricciardo then firmly set his sights on Bottas for the lead of the race, but there was yet more drama to come. As Verstappen closed in on Vettel, the pair made contact at the hairpin, causing both to spin out. The contact ruined Vettel's race, who limped home in eighth place.

Verstappen was deemed at fault for the incident and received a 10 second time penalty. The Red Bull driver crossed the line in fourth place, and was demoted to fifth behind Hamilton. Raikkonen managed to take advantage of the Vettel/Verstappen incident, and got past Hamilton when the Brit ran wide to avoid the turned-around cars.

On lap 45, Ricciardo was all over the tail of Bottas, and on much fresher tyres, dove up the inside at Turn 4. The gap was tight, but the grinning Australian made the move stick and hung on to claim his first win of the 2018 season.

The race result marks the first time in the hybrid era where Mercedes has gone three races without a victory. Vettel's gap in the championship now rests at 11 points to Hamilton. 

 

Fergal Walsh

CN Shanghai International Circuit - 15 April 2018

Photos China 2018

Replies (17)

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  • Great race from Ricciardo, solid race. But what the hell was Verstappen doing? Scrappy, to say the least. And Kimi was so close yet he didnt manage to get off that potty once again.

    • + 0
    • Apr 15 2018 - 09:52
    • Max is all hype like I have been saying all the time, Riccardo schooled the dipshit hype boy on how overtaking should be done. Pathetic. The pos must be booted out of F1. A safety liability.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 09:54
    • Kean

      Posts: 474

      I agree, Ricciardo really stood out today. Also impressive were Bottas, Hülkenberg and Alonso. Not at all impressed by Verstappen this season, sure he's fast over one lap but he's too hot-headed in the race. Disappointed by the Toro Rosso drivers today, also Grosjean disappointed (Haas expressed interest in Wehrlein last year, maybe they'll sign him instead of Grosjean next year...). Leclerc needs to step up as well, lost over 20 sec to Ericsson during last stint. Sainz and Vandoorne... their team-mates are making them look bad.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 13:17
    • If this is the Verstappen we'll see for 2018, Im not impressed. Being fast is one thing, but being just fast wont make you a champion. Ricciardo is far more consistent and in that respect he is more valuable for RB. Grosjean has pretty much been steamrolled this year. I dont think Wehrlein would be a bad choice, but not sure if they are genuinly interested in him.

      I didnt really expect STR to do well here, but either way its disappointing. Mind, this track is pretty much their worst nightmare, along with Canada and Baku. So now one of them is gone.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 17:21
    • Raikkonen was damn lucky to finish on the podium. The should have been 6th because of his poor pace and allowing Ferrari once again to compromise his strategy to benefit Sebastian. Amazing race though! Ricardo was spectacular. Verstappen was a mess and has been a mess this year, anyone questioning his talent is simply a hater, but he is definitely driving very poorly right now. Also, I'm not expecting more quotes from Gasly or Franz Tost congratulating themselves in the Honda switch, no more "Now we can fight." Conversely, it was strange but exciting to see Alonso fighting with Vettel for position.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 18:10
    • Ferrari were incomprehensibly slow witted this race. First Kimi were forced from P2 to P4, then they let themselves be undercut by Merc', and then they didnt let Kimi in with the Red Bulls. Really silly stuff.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 18:31
  • mbmwe36

    Posts: 533

    Very nicely done by Ricciardo. Who unlike his teammate is actually capable of using the inside of his head.

    How Ferrari managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is mind boggling.

    Bottas did a solid job today, as did Kimi. I don't know what kind of drugs the head of strategy at Ferrari were on today, but I wouldn't mind a batch.

    The Toro Rosso... dear oh dear...

    • + 0
    • Apr 15 2018 - 10:07
    • Really bad performance, and that incident was so unnecessary.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 10:39
  • EzanyAziz

    Posts: 4

    ric....still wanna whinning about renault engine performance today ? oh..btw...where's Honda in relative to McLaren ?

    • + 0
    • Apr 15 2018 - 10:10
    • Better than the worst doesnt make it good. As I've said before: RB perform well despite the Renault PU, not thanks to it. As for where Honda is: probably worse than Renault still, but its hard to gauge. 'member, where were the Merc' teams today, and on a power hungry track to boot?

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 10:41
    • mbmwe36

      Posts: 533

      Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Red Bull didn't win thanks to the PU, but rather in spite of it, as Calle says. Red Bull lucked out with neither Ferrari nor Mercedes being able to switch rubber, as they allegedly had already passed the pit entry.
      Ricciardo took full advantage of being on the Supersofts, Verstappen not so much.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 10:57
    • xoya

      Posts: 310

      Bottas and Vettel did already pass the pit entry when the SC came out, but Raikkonen and Hamilton didn't. I was very surprised to see them not go in and change tyres.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 12:32
    • mbmwe36

      Posts: 533

      Yeah, I've read that after the fact. The broadcaster in Denmark went to commercial just before everything went down.

      It was a very weird time to send out the safetycar out though. I guess (unofficially) it was done to shake things up. And shake things up it certainly did.
      But yeah, Kimi and Hamilton should've definitely been pulled in, weird call by both Ferrari and Mercedes - if nothing else to hedge their bets, so to speak.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 13:19
    • RogerF1

      Posts: 365

      Don’t think Helmut Marko will pipe up quite so quickly for TR after that result. On out and out power maybe Honda not that much further forward and Bahrain served them kindly.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 13:53
    • Pauli

      Posts: 140

      Bahrain an China are different tracks for many reasons. Weather, sand, China with long fairly fast corners and a longer straight.

      In china cars run surprising long at top speed because turn 13 is a fast corner before very long straight. Fast corners require downforce. But long run at top speed exposes cars that have poor drag-to-lift characters while engine power and specially MGU-H performance is important to maintain good top speed.

      China: Mix of slow and fast corners and high speed straights
      Bahrain: Mix of slow and medium corners and medium speed straights. (There is high speed corners but they are short and mostly in positions where nearby slow corners dominate performance)

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 14:30
    • A lot of hating on Renault. I find it so absurd for people to say that Red Bull won in spite of Renault. I suppose that a Renault engine won 6 out of the last 12 or 13 years on chassis alone. I think Honda will keep getting better, it does seem like they have sorted out reliability, which they never managed.to do in 3 years with McLaren. But I think those (especially Franz Tost) that spoke very boldly about their performance in Bahrain being their true pace, or Gasly mocking Alonso saying "Now we can fight"... They all have egg on their face.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 18:14
    • You'll find that reasoning strange, until you find out that Renault has been behind the other suppliers in terms of power for many years now. We are talking pre-hybrid era Renault, the one Red Bull one championships with. It wasnt as bad as it is now, it was negligible in comparison, but it was still the worst out of three. And now, despite being in F1 since the genesis o the hybrid era, they are still just slightly above Honda. I dont really find that to be an impressive record.

      But I do hope Tost will shut up now. What Honda need is caution and patience, like what Tanabe is trying to have, but there they all go babbling about.

      Fernando did a good job, but really he owes that maneuver all to Verstappen rather than his own pace.

      • + 0
      • Apr 15 2018 - 18:30

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