Ricciardo's engine blows up in Chinese GP practice

Aubrey Yates
April 15, 2018

Cape Town - It looked to be Ferrari versus Mercedes but a gamble a second time for fresh tyres behind a Safety Car meant Daniel Ricciardo came through to snatch the Chinese GP win.

Pole sitter Sebastian Vettel's ideal start to the year came to an end as he slipped to eighth, following a strategic blunder and a collision with Max Verstappen, for which the Dutchman was sanctioned.

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

Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas appeared on course for an excellent victory over Vettel before the safety vehicle period after the Finn jumped the Ferrari during their pit stops.

Bottas was lead the race, after undercutting Ferrari but he was no match for Ricciardo's pace.

Now running on the Medium compound tyre, Verstappen quickly lit up the timesheets, forcing Mercedes to bring Bottas in two laps later for fear of losing the position.

That promoted Hamilton to fourth while Nico Hulkenberg took sixth after Renault adopted the same strategy as the Red Bulls.

Ferrari's decision bit Vettel particularly badly, even if it was not his fault.

As if he had not done enough, Ricciardo was now in the lead, he managed to pass Bottas for P1.

Ferrari tried to use Kimi Raikkonen, who had yet to stop, as a bollard to hold up Bottas. The team opted to sacrifice Raikkonen's race to try and get back ahead, keeping Vettel's teammate out in a bid to back Bottas up.

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"Once we get to Europe a lot of things will settle with vehicle performance and then we'll probably start to see trends".

But the race took a second dramatic twist when the safety auto was deployed following a coming-together between the Toro Rosso pair of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly on lap 31. Ricciardo showed him how it is done, coming from absolutely nowhere to cleanly pass Hamilton.

Verstappen tried to pass Hamilton around the outside but instead nearly bumped wheels and went off the track.

"But I would say that after winter testing we didn't expect to be here in race three with the issues in Bahrain and this morning already".

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.

While Ricciardo's moves to rise to second had been spectacular, the Red Bull driver left the best until last. However, the Mercedes driver wasn't blocked for long, passing Raikkonen down the inside at Turn 3, before Vettel also shot past his team-mate.

WHAT started as a nightmare weekend in Shanghai has ended as a dream come true for Daniel Ricciardo who has won the China Grand Prix.

Asked by Motorsport.com if he was starting to give up hope of Renault reliability progress so far into the current engine rules cycle, Ricciardo replied: "I'd never give up hope, but for sure the window of optimism reduces over time". Verstappen meanwhile was given a 10s penalty for causing that collision.

The second Renault of Carlos Sainz was ninth, with Kevin Magnussen completing the points scoring places in 10th place for Haas.

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