CAMS Ambassador Daniel Ricciardo has put a horror Bahrain Grand Prix behind him to win the Formula 1 2018 Chinese Grand Prix.
Ricciardo faced near disaster with the power unit aboard the Red Bull failing during Saturday’s final practice session and eventually qualifying a respectable sixth.
Though it was Sunday’s race where Ricciardo defied the odds to produce the masterclass in China.
A combination of excellent strategy and aggressive driving helped the Australian jump from sixth to the lead, and eventually clinch his first race victory since the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“Put ourselves 24 hours ago, I thought we may be starting at the back of the grid,” Ricciardo said.
“Firstly, thanks to the boys. Yesterday I thanked them after qualifying, but this is the real reward for that work. The mechanics worked their butts off.
“We had the soft tyre, I knew I could get more out that them, you only get on chance to try so I had to take the opportunity.
“Until I got Valtteri, I wasn’t getting too excited, then I got him and went on the radio and got a little giddy.
“It’s a fun way to win for sure. Give me the chance to be in the title hunt and I will take it. Today was a good example.”
A collision between Toro Rosso teammates Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley mid-race brought out the safety car, much to the disappointment of then-leader Valtteri Bottas, who was beginning to build momentum.
Red Bull’s quick strategy for both drivers to enter the pit to change tyres during this period was the catalyst for Ricciardo’s sensational climb up the grid.
Armed with new tyres, Ricciardo had to wait until lap 36 to finally make his first move, with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen his first target.
Two laps later, Ricciardo was gifted Verstappen’s spot after the Dutchman failed to make a pass on Hamilton stick.
One by one, the Australian made a series of stunning passes on Hamilton, Vettel and eventually Bottas’ lead.
Verstappen attempted to recover ground before colliding with Vettel, later incurring a ten-second race penalty that saw the Dutchman drop to fifth.
After retiring in four of his previous six races, Sunday was a day of sweet redemption for Ricciardo by also claiming the fastest lap with an impressive time of 1:35:785.
Next on the Formula 1 calendar is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on 27 – 29 April where Ricciardo will be aiming to defend his Azerbaijan crown.
Published: 15 April 2018