Ricciardo clinches brilliant victory in China

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F1 Grand Prix, GP China, Shanghai International Ciruitcn

Daniel Ricciardo can celebrate a brilliant victory that he made possible thanks to several decisive overtakes after a safety car period 20 laps from the end. Valtteri Bottas struggled to second on old tyres with Raikkonen finishing a close third.

As the lights went out, Sebastian Vettel went off and opted to move across to block Raikkonen, resulting in the latter being passed by Bottas, and later in the lap also by Verstappen. Hamilton and Ricciardo also tried to make it past in the first lap, but failed to do so.

Behind them, Hulkenberg and Sainz ended up 7th and 8th, very closely behind one another and ahead of both Haas drivers. Alonso moved up from 13th to 11th with Stroll behind him in 12th.

Pierre Gasly, the only man to start the race on medium tyres was 19th after the first lap.

The next laps, Vandoorne is the only one to pass someone, taking Sirotkin on the pit straight after failing to get close enough on the endlessly long back straight.

Magnussen also got ahead of team mate Grosjean, but that was a team order as Magnussen's soft tyres appeared faster than the ultrasofts on Grosjean's car. Still, Grosjean easily stayed within DRS range, it left him vulnerable to Alonso who started challenging for 10th position half a lap after the position switch.

On lap 11, Hartley is the first to pit, bringing his Toro Rosso into the pits to change his ultrasoft tyres to mediums. Carlos Sainz is the first to stop from the top 10, changing to mediums as well 2 laps after Hartley did.

At the front, there are no changes at all. Ricciardo reported he couldn't get any more out of these tyres, even though he felt like he was held up slightly. Lewis Hamilton on the other hand said he was pushing only to keep up, so no chance for him there to pass Raikkonen.

On lap 18, Ricciardo pitted, exchanging ultra softs to mediums. Hamilton pitted the next lap, going for medium as well in an attempt to do something different than Raikkonen. Bottas pitted on lap 18, at a time when he was pushing hard for a few laps to reduce his deficit to Vettel.

On lap 21, Ferrari reacted to Bottas' stop, but it appeared too late, as the German ended up behind Bottas after the stop. Vettel was told "box now, engine 1, very close to Bottas". The Finn meanwhile was told a very firm "Good job!".

These pitstops really are strategically important here, with Vandoorne then told "Bol to overtake Stroll". He duly pitted to take on mediums and ended up out on track in P17.

Meanwhile, Raikkonen keeps on going round, despite being 2 seconds a lap slower than the guys around. Bottas is at 1.1s by lap 24, with Vettel chasing him another 1.5s further down.

At that time, Alonso is the only other top 10 runner still to stop. He reported "I'm still mainly oversteering, but the front left is nearly finished. Running in traffic was a killer". When his engineer said it would be best extend the first stint even more, the Spaniard replied "It's ok if this laptime is ok. The front left is quite hot, but ok, so we can keep running."

On lap 26, Bottas is quick to get past Raikkonen to avoid getting sandwished between the Ferrari drivers. Vettel easily follows through, and also saw his deficit to Bottas reduce to 0.5s. Raikkonen pitted one lap later, also taking on the medium tyres. The Finn rejoined in 6th, 10 second down on Ricciardo and 24s up on Hulkenberg.

4 laps later, the Toro Rossos collide when Gasly believed Hartley was going to let him through. He ended up bumping into the rear left of Hartley, sending him into a spin and breaking his own front wing. The debris on track triggered a safety car that immediately saw Verstappen and Ricciardo pit for soft tyres. Both Renaults also stopped during the SC, while Alonso was unlucky to have pitted moments before the SC.

Positions behind the safety car are: Bottas, Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Alonso, Sainz, Vandoorne, Ocon, Stroll, Perez, Gasly, Sirotkin, Leclerc, Ericsson and Hartley. Interestingly, there has been no retirement yet.

Hamilton was worried while behind the SC, noting "fronts are supercold". When he asked why they didn't change tyres after getting informed of Verstappen and Ricciardo's changes, he's bluntly replied "cause they'd be in front of you".

At the restart, Grosjean noted "f*cking tyres too cold", following which Alonso breezes past him on the pit straight to move up into 9th. Carlos Sainz followed suit to degrade Grosjean to 11th.

On lap 37, Verstappen makes a move on Hamilton, but gets caught out by his own eagerness and ends up in the grass. Ricciardo happily thanked his team mate for that as he breezed past the Dutchman. One lap later, Ricciardo showed how it's really done, very cleanly passing Hamilton for third at the end of the back straight.

In fact, Ricciardo went on to record the fastest lap while Verstappen emerged underneath the rear wing of the Mercedes once again. Another lap later, Verstappen makes it past Hamilton while Ricciardo went on to move up into second place, very easily passing Vettel.

At the end of lap 42, Verstappen tries to take on Vettel as well, but ends up bumping into him, sending Vettel off into a spin. Vettel's comment was clear "I don't think I need to say anything here". Indeed, this one immediately triggered an investigation.

Another 2 laps later, Ricciardo pushes on and take the race lead, forcing his was past Bottas despite the latter swerving a bit to put the Australian off of his idea.

This crazy series of laps saw Ricciardo lead, ahead of Bottas, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Verstappen. Nico Hulkenberg meanwhile also got past Vettel when the latter was perhaps still a bit put off by Verstappen's hit.

On lap 46, with 10 laps remaining, Verstappen was handed a 10s time penalty for causing the collision with Vettel. That is going to be added to his race time, meaning with current positions he'd finish 9th.

Verstappen then progressed ahead of Hamilton into 4th. Raikkonen meanwhile was very threatening versus Bottas, with Verstappen joining the fighting duo 5 laps from the end.

As Vettel continued to struggle, Alonso edged ever closer and on start of the final lap managed to get past the Ferrari and take 7th.

At the same time, Ricciardo set another fastest lap on the penultimate lap, underlining an utterly brilliant victory for the Australian, and a proper recovery on the back of a frustrating retirement in Bahrain.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarLapsTimePts
13Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer561:35:36.38025
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG56+8.894s18
37Kimi RäikkönenFerrari56+9.637s15
444Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG56+16.985s12
533Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer56+20.436s10
627Nico HulkenbergRenault56+21.052s8
714Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Renault56+30.639s6
85Sebastian VettelFerrari56+35.286s4
955Carlos SainzRenault56+35.763s2
1020Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari56+39.594s1
1131Esteban OconForce India Mercedes56+44.050s0
1211Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes56+44.725s0
132Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Renault56+49.373s0
1418Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes56+55.490s0
1535Sergey SirotkinWilliams Mercedes56+58.241s0
169Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari56+62.604s0
178Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari56+65.296s0
1810Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda56+66.330s0
1916Charles LeclercSauber Ferrari56+82.575s0
2028Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda51DNF0

Verstappen finished 4th but has 10s added to his race time due to a penalty Gasly also received a 10s time penalty