The Australian produced a stunning drive from P6 to claim a shocking win for Red Bull in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix. Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen opted to switch to soft tires during a midrace Safety Car while Ferrari and Mercedes remained on used mediums.
The pace advantage became clear once the Safety Car was back in the pitlane with Ricciardo charging past Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas en route to his sixth victory in Formula One.
Speaking after his triumph, Ricciardo said there have been times, like after Bahrain last weekend, when he retired on Lap 2 with an energy store failure, where he questioned why he even got into Formula One.
“This sport’s crazy. A week ago, I was with my head down after two laps on Sunday, frustrated at the sport, frustrated at all the variables that are involved in the sport,” Ricciardo said. “Sometimes I question why I chose this sport because there’s so many other things out of your control and it does get you down a lot, but then when you have a day like this, it’s worth 50 of those bad ones.”
Ricciardo was nearly forced to sit out qualifying in Shanghai after his car caught fire during FP3. It was later discovered that there had been a turbo failure, giving his crew a little over two hours to change the engine before qualifying began.
His mechanics managed to get the job done with just three minutes remaining in Q1, allowing Ricciardo to get out and take part in the session.
“I’ve only got six [wins], but they seem to come under always some circumstances,” Ricciardo said. “After yesterday in FP3, I had thought I’d be starting the race at the back. We didn’t think we’d get out for qualifying, [but] the team were rewarded for getting out. This is the best reward possible. I’m super happy for the mechanics.”