Australia’s Formula 1 hero, Daniel Ricciardo, has won an epic Chinese Grand Prix, after starting from sixth on the grid.
Ricciardo proved again why he is one of the best overtakers on the Formula 1 grid, keeping his nose clean to make a number of brilliant passes on both Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas late in the race.
Bottas finished second, holding out a fast-charging Kimi Raikkonen who rounded out the podium positions.
Ricciardo has never won a Formula Grand Prix from a grid position higher than fourth, with the Chinese Grand Prix his sixth career victory. The win also came on the back of four retirements for the Australian in the last six races.
The first half of the race was processional, with Ferrari leading early before being mugged by Mercedes-Benz in the pit stops. A late safety car period set the stage for a titanic race to the flag.
Red Bull made the bold strategy call to pit both cars for softer tyres, setting up a scintillating passing show.
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“I don’t know what it is,” Ricciardo said after the win. “I don’t seem to win boring races. They are all pretty fun.
“It was hectic, I heard safety car [called in lap 32 to clean up post-collision debris left by the two Toro Rossos] in T14. [Red Bull Racing] said we would double-stop. It happened quickly. That gave us a bit of grip on the restart. We didn’t think it would last that long but the tyres held up well and we had wicked pace on the softs.
“Once I was aware we had the pace, I wasn’t going to let that slip. Every win I’ve had has been in a similar circumstance. It was crazy, a lot of fun. It was decisive, winning moves from the team. Thanks a lot.
“Twenty-four hours ago, I thought we might be starting at the back of the grid (after the engine problem). Thanks to the boys yesterday. I thanked them after qualifying but today is the real reward. Thanks to everyone. The mechanics worked their butts off.”
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Teammate Verstappen clashed with cars twice, first with Hamilton then spectacularly with polesitter Sebastian Vettel, the two spinning at the hairpin after Verstappen ran into the side of the championship leader.
Vettel finished in eighth, and downplayed the incident after the race, refraining from lambasting the young Dutchman for the move. Verstappen was handed a 10-second penalty for his clash with Vettel and finished in fifth.