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Ricciardo celebrates sensational victory in China

  • Published at 03:44 pm April 15th, 2018
  • Last updated at 03:51 pm April 15th, 2018
Ricciardo celebrates sensational victory in China
Daniel Ricciardo made a string of thrilling overtaking moves to snatch a surprise Chinese Grand Prix victory Sunday after a safety car strategy gamble by his Red Bull team paid off handsomely. The Australian, who started sixth after almost missing qualifying, made the most of fresher tyres to finish 8.8s ahead of Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes. Kimi Raikkonen took third place for Ferrari but title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel both endured trying afternoons, the four time world champions ending up fourth and eighth respectively. Vettel, who won the first two races of the season for Ferrari, saw his lead over Hamilton slashed from 17 points to nine. The German's race unravelled spectacularly, a collision with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen dropping him down the order, after the pre-race favourite had initially made a good start from pole and held the early lead. Verstappen had a 10s penalty applied post-race for causing the collision, dropping the Dutch youngster from fourth to fifth. Vettel was also passed by the McLaren of Fernando Alonso two laps from the end. Ricciardo's mechanics had performed a minor miracle to change a blown engine after practice Saturday, getting him out just in time during the first phase of qualifying. Sunday’s win was Ricciardo’s first since a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix last June and it also broke Mercedes’ Shanghai stranglehold, with the champion having won the last six races there. Mercedes are yet to win this year, the first time since the turbo hybrid era started in 2014 that they have been beaten for three races in a row. Ricciardo and Verstappen were not early contenders but the deployment of the safety car on the 32nd of 56 laps, after the Toro Rosso pair Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley collided and left debris on track, swung the race Red Bull’s way. Bottas was in the lead at that stage ahead of Vettel, having overhauled the German during the pitstops, while Verstappen was fourth and Ricciardo sixth. Red Bull pulled both their cars into the pits, "double-stacking" them and bolting a set of fresh soft tyres on each. The advantage of fresh tyres allowed Verstappen and Ricciardo to scythe through the field. Verstappen botched his chances of victory, and a possible one-two for Red Bull, with scrappy attempts to overtake the main title contenders. The Dutchman ran wide and dropped back behind Ricciardo when trying to pass Hamilton and later spun his Red Bull and Vettel’s Ferrari while attempting to pass the German for third - an error he owned up to afterwards. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg finished sixth, ahead of Alonso whose aggressive overtaking move on Vettel was "noted" by stewards. Spaniard Carlos Sainz was ninth for Renault with Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top 10 for Haas. RESULTS 1. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull) in 1hr 35min 35.980s 2. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) at 8.894 3. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari) at 9.637 4. Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) at 16.985 5. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) at 20.436 6. Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Renault) at 21.052 7. Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren) at 30.639 8. Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari) at 35.286 9. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Renault) at 35.763 10. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas) at 39.594 11. Estéban Ocon (FRA/Force India) at 44.050 12. Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India) at 44.725 13. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL/McLaren) at 49.373 14. Lance Stroll (CAN/Williams) at 55.490 15. Sergey Sirotkin (RUS/Williams) at 58.241 16. Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber) at 1:02.604 17. Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas) at 1:05.296 18. Pierre Gasly (FRA/Toro Rosso) at 1:06.330 19. Charles Leclerc (MON/Sauber) at 1:22.575 20. Brendon Hartley (NZL/Toro Rosso) at five laps