Chinese GP: Daniel Ricciardo wins a thriller after Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel collide

Last Updated April 15 2018, 13:19Formula 1
Daniel Ricciardo celebrates his win
Daniel Ricciardo celebrates his win

Daniel Ricciardo won the Chinese GP after a spectacular charge in an epic race packed with controversy and overtakes galore.

The podium

  1. Daniel Ricciardo
  2. Valtteri Bottas
  3. Kimi Raikkonen

Scroll down for full classification

In brief

Daniel Ricciardo surged from sixth to first in the space of ten laps after Red Bull opportunistically pitted for fresh tyres behind a Safety Car.

Sebastian Vettel was relegated to just eighth after a collision with Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver was hit with a ten-second time penalty by the race stewards, promoting Lewis Hamilton to fourth and within eleven points of title leader Vettel.

Ricciardo sealed victory with an inches-to-spare pass on Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages.

The Finn then had to hold off compatriot Kimi Raikkonen for second place while Vettel ran off track as he was passed by McLaren's Fernando Alonso.

A race which had been slow-burning into a fascinating battle between Vettel and Bottas for victory was transformed into a barnstorming classic after a collision between the two Toro Rossos of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley triggered a Safety Car.

At that stage, Bottas held a narrow lead over Vettel after undercutting the pole-sitting Ferrari at the first round of pit-stops.

But quick thinking by the Red Bull team suddenly upgraded their drivers into victory contenders as Verstappen and Ricciardo used the Safety Car window to take an opportunistic stop.

Verstappen had already been off track during an attempted move on Hamilton, successfully completed five laps later, before he tangled with Vettel as he fought for second.

Their collision enabled Ricciardo to surge through into second while Raikkonen, a distant sixth at the halfway stage after being kept on a prolonged first stop by Ferrari seemingly in an attempted bid to slow down Bottas, rounded Hamilton as the world champion took avoiding action.

Ricciardo's winning move was typically daring, the Red Bull driver outbraking Bottas into the chicane to seal what was surely the most memorable of his six victories in F1.

Sky Bet make Hamilton the odds-on favourite at 5/6 to retain his F1 title.

Vettel is second in the outright odds at 5/4, while Bottas is 20/1 and Ricciardo 25/1.

Full classification

Final Positions after Race (56 Laps): 1 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1hr 35mins 36.380secs, 2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1:35:45.274, 3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:35:46.017, 4 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:35:53.365, 5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:35:56.816, 6 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:35:57.432, 7 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 1:36:07.019, 8 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:36:11.666, 9 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Renault 1:36:11.666, 10 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:36:15.974, 11 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 1:36:20.430, 12 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 1:36:21.105, 13 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 1:36:25.753, 14 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 1:36:31.870, 15 Sergey Sirotkin (Rus) Williams 1:36:34.621, 16 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 1:36:38.984, 17 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 1:36:41.676, 18 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:36:42.710, 19 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber-Ferrari 1:36:58.955, 20 Brendon Hartley (Nzl) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 5 laps

Fastest Lap: Daniel Ricciardo 1min 35.785secs on lap 55

Race report

Daniel Ricciardo took advantage of a tactical masterstroke by his Red Bull team to win in Shanghai after championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen dramatically collided during a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas appeared on course to claim his victory after a strategy error by Ferrari allowed the Mercedes car to move ahead of Vettel during their one-and-only round of pit stops.

But the race took a second dramatic twist when the safety car was deployed following a coming together between the Toro Rosso pair of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly on lap 31.

Unlike their rivals, Ricciardo and Verstappen dived into the pits to take on fresh rubber, and the gamble worked for Ricciardo as he passed Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Vettel and finally Bottas for a quite remarkable win.

But a hot-headed Verstappen, who had been ahead of Ricciardo, blew his chance of victory, when he ran off the road in attempting to make his way past Hamilton and then later collided with Vettel.

The collision at turn 14 saw Vettel cross the line down in eighth, allowing Hamilton, who finished fifth - which then became fourth following a 10-second penalty for Verstappen - to move to within nine points of the furious German.

"I don't need to say anything here," Vettel said after his coming together with Verstappen at turn 14.

Indeed the aggressive Dutchman went far too deep on the brakes making a collision inevitable. The stewards concurred slapping the Red Bull man with a timed penalty.

Vettel looked likely to finish seventh, but was overtaken by McLaren's Fernando Alonso on the penultimate lap to finish even further down the order.

Bottas held off a late surge from Ferrari's Raikkonen to finish second, albeit nine seconds down on a jubilant Ricciardo.

The third instalment of the championship looked to be heading Vettel's way after he saw off the rest of the pack to retain the lead on the opening-bend charge.

For the second week in a row, Bottas moved ahead of Raikkonen, while Verstappen fought his way past Hamilton and then Raikkonen, too, to take third.

Hamilton apologised to his team for losing places. Verstappen and the two Mercedes cars were the first of the leaders to pit, but Ferrari left Vettel out on old tyres for two laps too long, and Bottas got the jump on the Ferrari to take the lead.

Ferrari, flummoxed after losing the lead, did not pull Raikkonen in, but rather left him on track in the hope that he could help Vettel get back past Bottas. It did not work.

Bottas had done everything right, but the safety car cost him dearly. Ricciardo however, made no mistake when handed the opportunity with a superb demonstration in overtaking.

"I don't seem to win boring races," said Ricciardo after claiming his first victory since last June's Azerbaijan Grand Prix. "That was unexpected.

"It was hectic. I heard the safety car call a turn 14 and they said we are going to stop. It happened very quickly, but it was a decisive, winning move.

"Sometimes you have just got to lick the stamp and send it. I enjoyed it very much."

Reaction

Lewis Hamilton has admitted that his hopes of sealing a fifth world championship are in grave danger as his winless start to the new season continued.

Hamilton reduced the deficit to leader Sebastian Vettel in their title battle to only nine points after Max Verstappen's collision with the Ferrari driver during Sunday's frenetic Chinese Grand Prix.

But - after dominating practice on Friday - Hamilton and his Mercedes car have subsequently been well off the pace at a circuit where they have ruled in recent seasons.

Hamilton could not get his rear tyres to work in the cold conditions in qualifying, but there was still no improvement in his form on Sunday despite the warmer temperatures.

The 33-year-old Englishman was the hot favourite to beat Vettel to this year's title, but he now believes that his once-dominant Mercedes team are behind Ferrari and indeed Red Bull in the pecking order.

"Who knows what this season holds, but if it continues this way it is going to be very tough to win the championship," Hamilton said.

"We underperformed in qualifying and the race was a disaster on my side of the garage. I need to try and rectify that and get myself back into a normal performance.

"It has not changed my thinking about the season, and my goals are obviously still the same, but it is clear from this weekend that we are not the quickest.

"We are the second or third fastest team at the moment so we have got some improving to do, but that is not impossible."

Hamilton started fourth on the grid and lost one place off the start line. He was then sitting in fourth, after moving ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, before Red Bull's inspired pit-stop call paved the way for Daniel Ricciardo to win.

Hamilton, 33, felt he should have been called in for fresh rubber, too, but Mercedes - not predicting how fast Ricciardo and Verstappen would be on their new tyres - felt track position would be of greater importance.

And the British driver, who is due in Mercedes' Brackley factory on Thursday, has now called on his team to raise their game in order to claw their way back into the championship fight.

"I have got to keep constructive pressure on the guys but they're already pressured," Hamilton added.

"They want to win just as much as the rest of us and it is about working as a team.

"I've got to take it upon myself to try and figure out what has gone wrong and move forward, but of course it is a joint effort and definitely on my side we have struggled more.

"I feel I was on top of my game. I came to this race and prepared exactly the same as always, but I (was) just uncomfortable in the car."

World Championship Standings after Chinese Grand Prix:

Drivers: 1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 54pts, 2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 45, 3 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 40, 4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 37, 5 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 30, 6 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 22, 7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 22, 8 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 18, 9 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 12, 10 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 11, 11 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 6, 12 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Renault 3, 13 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 2, 14 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 1, 15 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 0, 16 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber-Ferrari 0, 17 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 0, 18 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 0, 19 Sergey Sirotkin (Rus) Williams 0, 20 Brendon Hartley (Nzl) Scuderia Toro Rosso 0

Manufacturers: 1 Mercedes GP 85pts, 2 Ferrari 84, 3 Red Bull 55, 4 McLaren 28, 5 Renault 25, 6 Scuderia Toro Rosso 12, 7 Haas F1 11, 8 Sauber-Ferrari 2, 9 Force India 1, 10 Williams 0

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