Shock: There weren’t too many people expecting a Red Bull win in China after Ferrari had dominated Saturday with a decisive front row lockout but Daniel Ricciardo put on an overtaking clinic during the race to claim a shock victory over Formula One’s frontrunners. The Australian, who started sixth on the ultra-soft tyre but very nearly missed qualifying after a turbo failure in FP3, made up a place before stopping for fresh medium tyres. However, when a mid-race Safety Car was deployed, Ricciardo dived back into the pits to fit a new set of soft tyres, returned to the track and began picking his way through the field, taking the lead from Valtteri Bottas on lap 45 and never looking back.
Shocker: While it was celebrations for one Red Bull it was disappointment for the other. Max Verstappen has already come under fire this season for his over-aggressive driving style and once again it was on full display. The Dutchman was in a strong position to win after stopping for soft tyres during the Safety Car period, but an audacious pass attempt on Lewis Hamilton around the outside of Turn 6 forced him off the track and behind his teammate. That wouldn’t be the end of Verstappen’s eventful day; on lap 43 he collected Sebastian Vettel at Turn 14 which saw him slapped with a 10 second time penalty.
Unlucky Seb: After a clean getaway and a healthy lead it appeared as though Vettel was on track to make it a hatrick of wins to open season 2018. However, like Hamilton in Australia, Vettel did little wrong yet still ended up crossing the line in P8 after his tangle with Verstappen. Nevertheless, he still leaves Shanghai with a nine point lead in the drivers’ standings.
Strategy out the window: There was plenty of speculation about what the best strategy would be in China after the ultra-softs, for many teams, had failed to impress during Friday’s race simulations. In the end, the top six all opted to change onto the durable medium tyre at the first stop but only Red Bull elected to switch onto the medium compound when the Safety Car came out. It quickly became clear Red Bull had made the right call as both cars were far racier than the Mercedes and Ferraris in the second phase of the race.
Toro’s torrid day: After the highs of Bahrain, Toro Rosso came crashing back down to earth in China when Pierre Gasly careered into the side of teammate Brendon Hartley at Turn 14, resulting in a Safety Car to clear the debris from the track. The pair, who had struggled all weekend, were fighting well outside the points positions before eventually finishing P18 and P20. That fourth place in Bahrain seems like a long, long time ago now…
Best overtake: Ricciardo once again provided plenty of overtaking highlights, so take your pick. There was his move on Raikkonen which got his charge through the front group underway, the dive on Lewis Hamilton into Turn 14 was special as was when he breezed by Vettel into the same corner but his pass on Bottas into Turn 6 to take the lead was pure class and one worthy of victory.
Driver of the day: Again, it’s hard to go past Ricciardo. He managed his tyres well in the opening stint, stayed patient amidst the chaos of the Safety Car period and executed his overtakes perfectly in the second half of the race. What more can you ask for?
Quote of the day: Daniel Ricciardo brilliantly summed up his racing philosophy on the podium, saying “sometimes you’ve just got to lick the stamp and send it”.
Formula 1 Heineken Chinese Grand Prix U.S. coverage presented by Mothers Polish (All times Eastern)
Encore – Sunday April 15 – 1:00PM – ESPNEWS
Encore – Sunday, April 15 – 09:00PM – ESPN2