2018 Chinese Grand Prix
- Sunday, April 15, 2018
- Heineken Chinese Grand Prix
- F1 World Championship
Here he comes, the unstoppable force. A safety car, Red Bull’s sharpness and Max Verstappen’s over-eagerness combined to give Daniel Ricciardo all the opportunity he needed – he just had to steal it once it was laid out for him. With out-braking moves on Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas that were extreme even by his standards, that’s exactly what he did. It was all the more remarkable given that for a time on Saturday it looked like he wouldn’t even be making qualifying, an engine change completed with just 45sec to spare after a failure in that morning’s practice.
“I never seem to win boring races,” he said in between bursts of emotion. “Twenty-four hours ago I thought I’d be starting at the back of the grid. So much thanks to the boys for getting my car ready. They worked their butts off to do it in time.”
Valtteri Bottas could feel robbed. He’d undercut himself ahead of the race-leading Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, apparently getting a race-winning tune from an edgy Mercedes that Lewis Hamilton could do nothing with. But then the safety car to clear up some mess from a Toro Rosso in-team tangle, a throw of the dice from the operationally super-slick Red Bull team that gave it a huge new-tyred grip advantage with 21 laps to go, an adrenaline-blinded passing attempt by Verstappen on Hamilton that was never going to come off – and Ricciardo was on his way, showing his team-mate how it should be done. “I had wicked pace on the softs. Once I was aware we had the pace I wasn’t going to let it slip.”