Daniel Ricciardo takes epic first win of the season at the Chinese Grand Prix
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News April 15, 2018 Updated: 5:41 AM PT
SHANGHAI, China — In what was regarded as one of the most exciting races of the season so far, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo took his first win of the season after Ferrari failed to capitalize on their front row lockout. An emotional and overjoyed Ricciardo celebrated on the podium by bringing the famed ‘shoey’ out of retirement. Ricciardo shared his feeling on his mega result
“That was fun, a lot of fun and I just about believe it now. From where we were yesterday you would not have believed we would be here today. For me this is a massive reward but for the mechanics and engineers, they really earned this victory. Not only for the pit stops and strategy today but for getting me out in Qualifying yesterday which enabled me to get in the fight for victory, they should be very, very proud,” said Ricciardo.
What was set to be a repeat of the first two races of the season with both Ferrari drivers ending the day with podium finishes took a turn when a mix of strategy and a safety car left Kimi Raikkonen in third and Sebastian Vettel in eighth.
Strategy did, however, work in Mercedes’ favor. During a pitstop on Lap 21, Bottas was able to undercut Vettel, and this allowed Bottas to take the lead. Bottas’ lead would not last. Things would take a turn shortly after the first round of pit stops when a safety car was triggered after Toro Rosso drivers Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly made contact at Turn 14 and left debris on the track.
The safety car played right into Red Bull’s hands as they were able to duck into the pits for fresh, softer tires leaving Mercedes and Ferrari at a disadvantage as they were unable to react in time during the safety car period.
This left both teams struggling to hold off a charging Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. Ricciardo found his way around Kimi Raikkonen with a late break overtake on the inside of Turn 14. Max would attempt to overtake Lewis Hamilton on the outside of Turn 7 but the reigning world champion would not have it as he shut the door on the young Dutchmen leaving him to cut across the runoff of Turn 8.
Ricciardo would go on to take his next target, Hamilton, by repeating the move he previously pulled on Raikkonen. No resistance was seen from Hamilton who was on a set of dying medium (White band) tires.
Hamilton’s tires would also stop him from defending against Max Verstappen’s repeated and successful attempt to pass Hamilton on the inside of Turn 6. Ricciardo continued his charge making his way behind Sebastian Vettel and once again making use of the inside of Turn 14 to overtake the Ferrari driver.
Vettel was now left to deal with a storming Max Verstappen who attempted the same move as his teammate at Turn 14 but was unsuccessful, and the two made contact. Ricciardo completed his charge to the front taking Bottas on the inside of Turn 6, going on to the checkered flag, and leaving Bottas to finish second while Raikkonen ended the race in third.
Lewis Hamilton went on to finish fourth after Max Verstappen was hit with a ten second time penalty for his collision with Vettel. Despite re-overtaking Hamilton, he wasn’t able to overcome his ten second penalty and finished fifth.
Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth for Renault with Fernando Alonso in seventh after an advantage of a wounded Sebastian Vettel, post collision with Verstappen on the inside of Turn 3, left Vettel in eighth. Carlos Sainz took ninth in the second Renault and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen finished in the tenth and final points paying spot.
Vettel still leads the championship, but after today’s disastrous result, his lead has now been cut down to nine points ahead of Hamilton. Red Bull’s incredible result could give insight of what to look forward to as the 2018 Formula One season continues.