Ricciardo storms to win as Verstappen hits Vettel, F1

The opening stint of the Chinese Grand Prix was largely free of drama, with Vettel on course for his third win in as many races this season. But it exploded into life when Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly went from hero to zero.

He committed F1’s cardinal sin by crashing into team mate Brendon Hartley at the hairpin on Lap 30 of the 56, scattering debris across the track.

The safety car was called into action and Red Bull responded, pulling both Max Verstappen and Ricciardo into the pits from third and fifth respectively and fitting them with soft tyres. It would prove the decisive move.

They may have lost a place apiece, but when the safety car was recalled, their pace advantage over the Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes’ Bottas and Lewis Hamilton became clear.

Verstappen, ahead on the road, was best-placed to make the most of the turn of events, but he ran off track when trying an unrealistic move on Hamilton and then got it all wrong when he hit Vettel at the hairpin while trying to recover.

His team mate Ricciardo made no mistake, however, showing him how it was done. He launched one of his trademark attacks from way back, to dive down the inside of Hamilton at the hairpin. He then picked off Vettel easily and then seized the lead from Bottas with a similarly bold move.

The Australian than powered off into the distance to secure his first victory since last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with Bottas second for the second successive race.

It was still an impressive performance by Bottas, who made up for a lack of attack in Bahrain with a decisive move on Raikkonen for the lead. Had the safety car not been called, or had Bottas pitted at the same time as the Red Bulls, he would likely have won.

Raikkonen took third – a reward for a strong opening phase, which actually resulted in him falling back, and seemingly being hung out to dry by Ferrari as they appeared to try and use him to help bring Vettel back into play.

Verstappen crossed the line fourth, but that turned into fifth as the stewards handed him a 10-second penalty for hitting Vettel. Hamilton, who has been off colour all weekend, salvaged fourth.

Nico Hulkenberg was a superb sixth for Renault, with Fernando Alonso getting his elbows out and squeezing Vettel, who was struggling with his tyres, off track in the opening sequence for seventh.

Renault’s Carlos Sainz and Haas’s Kevin Magnussen completed the top 10 in a race that will live very long in the memory.

The result tightens up the drivers’ championship, with Vettel’s lead narrowed to nine points over Hamilton, 54 to 45, with Bottas just five back on 40 and Ricciardo – who also set the fastest lap and picked up the Driver of the Day Award – leaping up to fourth on 37.

In the constructors’ stakes, Mercedes now have a one-point advantage over Ferrari, 85 to 84, with Red Bull moving into a clear third place on 55.

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Time
1 australia Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG
2 finland Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 8.894
3 finland Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 9.637
4 united_kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 16.985
5 netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG 20.436
6 germany Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 21.052
7 spain Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 30.639
8 germany Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 35.286
9 spain Carlos Sainz  Renault Renault 35.763
10 denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 39.594
11 france Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 44.050
12 mexico Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 44.725
13 belgium Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 49.373
14 canada Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 55.490
15 russia Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 58.241
16 sweden Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1’02.604
17 france Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1’05.296
18 france Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda 1’06.330
19 monaco Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1’22.575
20 new_zealand Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Honda 5 laps

Source : F1, motorsport

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