Daniel Ricciardo Wins The Chinese Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo has won the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix.
It wasn’t the most exciting start to the race. Certainly less explosive than last week’s Bahrain race, but the starting grid changed, and there was some great moments throughout the second half of the race.
Sebastian Vettel had a great start to the race, squeezing out his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in the first corner. Taking advantage of this, Bottas moves on Kimi Raikkonen to take second place. Unfortunately for Hamilton, he lost a place to Max Verstappen and was pushed down to fifth place.
The first few laps were plain sailing for Vettel, as put in some strong laps, extending his lead over Bottas by two seconds. Bottas however, was fighting off Verstappen on the faster ultrasoft tyres.
By lap 5, there were no reported issues. All drivers were running safe, and the only real battle in the race was for 14th place, and between Sirotkin and Vandoorne. Just two laps later, and Vettel was now 2.5 seconds ahead of Bottas.
The earlier battle between Verstappen and Bottas is over, as Bottas makes time on him at lap 9, and continues to move further away with a gap of four seconds between them.
At lap 10, Vettel was still leading by 2.4 seconds, and Hamilton was 10 seconds behind in a disappointing fifth place.
First in the pits was Brendon Hartley, swapping his ultrasofts with Mediums.
As it was coming to pitting time, it was interesting to think about Red Bulls strategy. They were struggling in the race, and Verstappen was four seconds behind Bottas. If they were to pit at this stage of the race, they would have to adopt a 2-stop strategy.
Next to pit was Ocon where he continued on the soft tyres (a new set). He returned to the pack at 19th.
Hulkenberg and Sainz both pit next. At lap 15, there had been no change to the top six. By lap 16, both Red Bulls had come in to pit. Verstappen pitted from third, and Ricciardo from sixth. Both moved onto medium tyres. Their strategy was clear; 1-stop only. Hamilton was next, and joins the pack ahead of Ricciardo in fifth on mediums.
Lap 20 and Bottas pits, moves onto medium tyres and comes back out in third. Next, Vettel. Bottas undercuts Vettel on mediums, and because of this, Vettel now sits behind Bottas.
Bottas continues to make time, but Raikkonen is currently in first at this stage but still had to pit. Still waiting for Raikkonen to pit as he is currently losing time to Bottas with his 23-lap old soft tyres.
Kimi Raikkonen keeps losing his advantage every single second he stays out in the race, and it was only a matter of time before Bottas manages to take Raikkonen.
Finally, in third; Kimi pits at lap 28. He comes back out on mediums in sixth; behind Ricciardo.
At lap 32, a safety car was deployed as Gasly clashes with Brendon Hartley, and debris comes off his car. At lap 35, Hamilton said the following over the radio
Lewis Hamilton: The front tyres are super cold. Is it me or have I got a bunch of cars behind me with new tyres on?
Race Engineer: Verstappen has new boots on.
Lewis Hamilton: Shoot, why didn't we stop?
Race Engineer: Because they would be ahead of you.
Lap 36 and the safety car has gone, and Bottas immediately built up a 1.8s advantage. At lap 37, Hamilton is putting pressure on Vettel in third, behind the Ferrari.
Pierre Gasly gets a 10-second penalty for his earlier crash with Brendon Hartley.
Lap 38 and Ricciardo is putting in a fine performance, and slides up on the inside of Raikkonen and moves into a strong fifth place. Ricciardo then, at lap 41 makes an incredible move out of nowhere to drive on the inside of Hamilton at the hairpin, and moves into third place. Two laps later, and Ricciardo sweeps past Vettel, and moves into second.
Lap 44, and Max Verstappen goes for an over-take of Vettel, and clips the rear of the Ferrari at the hairpin. A dangerous move from Verstappen, echoed by Vettel who said “I don’t think I need to say anything” over the radio to his team.
Vettel is in trouble. Verstappen’s move on him was uncalled for, and has resulted in a 10-second penalty. Raikkonen and Hamilton benefit from this, and move up to third and fourth. Vettel in seventh.
Lap 46 and Ricciardo continues his sublime drive, and squeezes past Bottas on the inside of turn four, and moves into first place. He started in sixth place.
Lap 50, and Ricciardo is four seconds ahead, and should be proud of his race.
With just a few laps left, Bottas and Raikkonen are battling it out for second, with Verstappen just behind them.
At lap 53, Ricciardo is five seconds clear, but behind him it's all still to play for. Vettel has been slipping down the pack, and gets overtaken by Alonso as Vettel has nothing left in his tyres. This was extremely close, and not fair driving from Alonso.
Final lap of the grand prix, and Ricciardo sets the fastest lap of the race so far. What an incredible drive from him, and he wins the Chinese Grand Prix.
Here is how the race finished.
#1: Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull/Renault 25 points
#2: Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes - 18 points
#3: Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari - 15 points
#4: Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 12 points
#5: Max Verstappen - Red Bull/Renault - 10 points
#6: Nico Hulkenberg - Renault - 8 points
#7: Fernando Alonso - McLaren/Renault - 6 points
#8: Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari - 4 points
#9: Carlos Sainz - Renault - 2 points
#10: Kevin Magnussen - Haas/Ferrari - 1 point
#11: Esteban Ocon - Force India/Mercedes - 0 points
#12: Sergio Perez - Force India/Mercedes - 0 points
#13: Stoffel Vandoorne - McLaren/Renault - 0 points
#14: Lance Stroll - Williams/Mercedes - 0 points
#15: Pierre Gasly - Toro Rosso/Honda - 0 points
#16: Sergey Sirotkin - Williams/Mercedes - 0 points
#17: Marcus Ericsson - Sauber/Ferrari - 0 points
#18: Romain Grosjean - Haas/Ferrari - 0 points
#19: Charles Leclerc - Sauber/Ferrari - 0 points
#20: Brendon Hartley - Toro Rosso/Honda - 0 points
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix takes place on the 29th April where Hamilton will be looking to improve on his championship run so far.