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Ricciardo puts on masterclass as Verstappen hits Vettel in Shanghai thriller

15 April 2018 10:04

Daniel Ricciardo put on an overtaking clinic to triumph at the Chinese Grand Prix, while team-mate Max Verstappen's reckless driving thwarted championship leader Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull had pulled off a masterstroke in pitting under the safety car, giving their drivers the advantage of fresh tyres in a newly bunched-up field.

And Ricciardo made full use of his extra grip, making sensational overtakes on Lewis Hamilton, Vettel and race leader Valtteri Bottas to move to the front, after Verstappen gave up fourth place to the Australian in a scrape with the defending champion.

Verstappen's day was not done there, however.

In a typically boisterous bid for the podium, the Dutchman saw gaps where there were none, and wiped out Vettel at the hairpin on the 43rd lap.

The incident landed Verstappen with a 10-second penalty and left Vettel nursing a damaged sidepod, the pair finishing fifth and eighth respectively.

Ricciardo, meanwhile, built up a cushion over Bottas to claim an ultimately comfortable victory, with Kimi Raikkonen taking third having earlier looked out of podium contention and Hamilton fourth.

The win for Ricciardo is made all the more remarkable by the fact he very nearly missed qualifying due to a turbo issue on Saturday, and only took to the track after a swift repair job from his own mechanics and those in Verstappen's garage.

Niko Hulkenberg crossed the line sixth ahead of Fernando Alonso, who maintains his run of points finishes to start the 2018 season. Carlos Sainz was ninth, with Kevin Magnussen taking a single point for Haas.

 

VETTEL LOSES LEAD IN UNDERCUT

The Ferraris were half a second clear of the rest of the field in qualifying and looked likely to make it three wins from three races in Shanghai.

However, Vettel – starting on pole – found himself behind Bottas after the teams pitted around the 20th lap.

Ferrari believed they had enough time to send Vettel back out ahead of Bottas, but a slow stop – perhaps caused by extra caution following their pit-lane nightmare in Bahrain – gave the Finn the advantage.

The Scuderia left Raikkonen out to hold up the now second-placed Bottas, but it was the safety car that would truly change the face of this race.

 

QUICK-THINKING RED BULL REAP THE REWARDS

A collision between Toro Rosso pair Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley – for which the former was to blame – brought out the safety car.

Red Bull reacted quickly to box their drivers and Ricciardo and Verstappen re-emerged among the leading pack with fresh tyres.

Ricciardo’s progress from that point was masterful.

A stunning overtake on Hamilton down the inside of the hairpin was followed a lap later by a demonstration of the Red Bull’s straight-line speed that accounted for the position of Vettel.

Ricciardo then showed tremendous control to squeeze past race leader Bottas and took the chequered flag for the sixth win of his career.

 

MAD MAX STRIKES AGAIN

The contrast between Ricciardo and Verstappen was stark.

The eventual winner’s approach was measured yet relentless, while Verstappen's lacked the craft one might expect from a talented driver in his fourth F1 season.

A second coming together with Hamilton in as many weekends saw him lose fourth place to Ricciardo, before his clumsy manoeuvre on Vettel into Turn 14 – the same corner where Ricciardo so expertly picked off Hamilton – wrecked the chances of both drivers.

 

IN THE POINTS

1. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +8.894
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +9.637
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +16.985
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +20.436
6. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +21.052
7. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) +30.639
8. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +35.286
9. Carlos Sainz (Renault) +35.763
10. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +39.594


DRIVER STANDINGS

1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 54
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 45
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 40
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 37
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 30

 

CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS

1. Mercedes 85
2. Ferrari 84
3. Red Bull 55
4. McLaren 28
5. Renault 25


NEXT UP

The next stop on the Formula One calendar is Azerbaijan, where the rivalry between Vettel and Hamilton exploded into life last season, when the German intentionally drove his car into the Briton's Mercedes.

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