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Passing fancy: Bold Aussie scythes through the field to win Chinese GP

Sports | Apr 16, 2018
Daniel Ricciardo made a string of thrilling overtaking moves to snatch a surprise Chinese Grand Prix victory after a safety car strategy gamble by his Red Bull team paid off handsomely.

The Australian, who started sixth after almost missing qualifying, made the most of fresher tires to finish 8.8 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes. "I don't seem to win boring races," he grinned from the podium in Shanghai, before chugging the champagne from his racing boot in a 'shoey' celebration. "They are all pretty fun but that was unexpected."

Kimi Raikkonen took third place for Ferrari but four-time world champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel both endured trying afternoons, ending up fourth and eighth, respectively.

"I was in no-man's land," said Hamilton. "I had no pace."

Vettel, who won the first two races of the season for Ferrari, saw his lead over Hamilton, of Mercedes, slashed from 17 points to nine.

The German's race unravelled spectacularly, a collision with Red Bull's Max Verstappen dropping him down the order, after he had made a good start from pole and held the early lead. Verstappen took a 10-second penalty for causing the collision, dropping the Dutch youngster from fourth to fifth.

Ricciardo's mechanics had performed a minor miracle to change a blown engine after practice on Saturday, getting him out just in time during the first phase of qualifying. "I thought we might be starting at the back of the grid," he said.

The win was Ricciardo's first since a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix last June.

Ricciardo and Verstappen were not early contenders but the deployment of the safety car on the 32nd of 56 laps, after Toro Rosso pair Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley collided and left debris on track, swung the race Red Bull's way.

Bottas was in the lead at that stage ahead of Vettel, while Verstappen was fourth and Ricciardo sixth. Red Bull pulled both their cars into the pits, "double-stacking" them and bolting a set of fresh soft tires on each. The advantage of fresh tires allowed Verstappen and Ricciardo to scythe through the field.

REUTERS



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