The Chinese Grand Prix was set to be a straight fight between the folks at Ferrari and Mercedes, although the two Red Bulls were ideally placed to make a lunge at the lead. The two Ferraris had the first row, with Sebastian Vettel holding onto lead, while Verstappen put pressure on both Raikkonnen and Bottas. However, by race end it was the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo that came in first.
The race had settled into a rhythm with strategy looking like it would decide the race positions. Two quick tyre changes by Hamilton and Bottas to mediums on lap 17 and 19 looked like it would take away the advantage of Vettel who stayed out, only to come in on lap 20 to take on Softs. The timing of the pit stop also left something to be desired as he came out behind a charging Bottas. Raikkonen seemed to be set for a different strategy.
That’s when a safety car incident necessitated by Toro Rosso’s Gasly ran into teammate Hartley on lap 30, allowed Ricciardo and Verstappen to dart into the pits and take on a fresh set of softs. The two Red Bulls then found themselves back in the fight although it was Ricciardo who set the track on fire, pulling off overtake manouevres to bring him ahead of the pack, only to open out a good lead.
The race ended with Ricciardo ahead of Bottas and Raikkonen, whose odd strategy paid off. They were followed by Verstappen, who then got a ten second penalty for hitting Vettel, allowing Hamilton the fourth spot and sixth going to Renault’s Hulkenberg.
Ricciardo said post-race, “At the start of the race I thought we could fight for a podium but I didn’t really expect a win; then after the safety car and when I could see the way the race was going I knew we had a chance. Once I had a sniff of victory I wasn’t going to let it go.
“The team made a very quick decision to stop both cars under the safety car and it was a winning decision. I have lots of emotions. On the in lap I was just smiling and I didn’t have many words, then on the podium I was nearly in tears and in the press conference I was just thinking about the whole race and also about last week; how disappointed this sport can make you feel but also how high it can make you feel. It’s like some sort of drug I guess and now we can all celebrate tonight.”
2018 Formula 1 Drivers
|Car No||Name||Team||2018 season||2017 season|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||37||200|
|33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||18||168|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||12||0|
|31||Esteban Ocon||Force India||1||87|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||0||100|
|28||Brendan Hartley||Toro Rosso||0||0|
2018 Formula 1 Teams
|Team||2018 season||2017 season|
|Red Bull Racing||55||368|
|Toro Rosso Honda||12||53|
|Force India Mercedes||1||187|
2018 Formula 1 Races
|Australia||25/03/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Bahrain||04/04/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Valtteri Bottas||Lewis Hamilton|
|China||15/04/2018||Daniel Ricciardo||Valtteri Bottas||Kimi Raikkonen|