Ricciardo scores first win for Red Bull at F1 Chinese GP

  Round 3 of the Formula One World Championships is done and dusted with Daniel Ricciardo picking up the first win of the season at the Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai International Circuit.

Twice GP winner this season Sebastien Vettel finished way down in eighth, while team mate Kimi Raikkonen took up third for the final podium spot. Mercedes-AMG F1 Team have yet to break the win column this season as Valtteri Bottas captured second place, with Lewis Hamilton finishing just outside the podium in fourth.

Despite finishing way down the pecking order, Vettel continues to lead the Drivers standings with a 9-point advantage from Hamilton. Bottas held steady in third with 40 points, while Ricciardo jumped up to fourth, just 3 points behind the Mercedes driver.

Ricciardo’s team mate Max Verstappen was fifth fastest, just ahead of Renault’s front man Nico Hulkenberg. Fernando Alonso ensured more points for Mclaren with a seventh place haul. Hulkenberg’s team mate Carlos Sainz took up ninth spot and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen completed the top ten finishers.

Ferraris were the favorites for the top two spot in the race after a consistent qualifying bout the day before. Both Ferrari cars led off good starts with Vettel holding the top spot and Raikkonen just behind Bottas. Behind Raikkonen, Verstappen pursued hard after passing Hamilton for position. The Red Bull would overtake the Ferrari for position 3.

The race leader extended his lead to a couple of seconds, to stay out of the DRS range. The top 5 order was Vettel, Bottas, Verstappen, Raikkonen and Hamilton. Lap 18, the Red Bull pitted both cars, which cleared the way for Raikkonen and Hamilton. Hamilton would soon pit for new shods, a lap later, followed by his team mate on lap 20.

Then came Ferrari’s stop, Vettel had a slight delay and retook the track behind Bottas, who pursued Raikkonen, the provisional race leader. Raikkonen would soon have to stop. As soon as Raikko stopped, Bottas led from Vettel, who’s determined to make it three-in-a-row.

On lap 32, the Safety Car came out to allow debris to be cleared away after the two Toro Rossos had collided at the hairpin. Race resumed on lap 36 and Ricciardo was among the race leaders at that point. He attacked Raikkonen, who had lost time with Verstappen. Verstappen lost the car as he was trying to overtake Hamilton. Ricciardo saw the opportunity and gained a position up. Verstappen would recover to re-take a position from Hamilton.

In the closing stint, Ricciardo got ahead of Vettel, with Verstappen also in the hunt. Verstappen was too eager to overtake Vettel’s car and tipped the Ferrari into a spin on lap 44. It was a ten-second penalty for the Red Bull, later.  Up front,  Ricciardo hunted down Bottas for the race lead and successfully passed the Mercedes driver. Raikkonen hung on to third and Vettel had dropped way down in seventh after the spin with damage to the side of his car. During the chaos, Alonso got past Vettel to gain seventh spot.

The race order was pretty much set with Ricciardo heading for a first win, followed by Bottas and Raikkonen. Hamilton raced to a lonely fourth place, while Verstappen was fifth with the added penalty. Hulkenberg slipped between the Red Bull and McLaren for sixth, with Alonso hanging on to seventh. Vettel managed to defend his eighth place from a last lap attack from Sainz. Race over…

2018 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix results

1 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING  1:35:36.380
2 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES  +8.894s
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI +9.637s
4 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES  +16.985s
5 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING  +20.436s
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT  +21.052s
7 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN +30.639s
8 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI  +35.286s
9 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT  +35.763s
10 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS  +39.594s
11 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA  +44.050s
12 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA  +44.725s
13 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN  +49.373s
14 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS  +55.490s
15 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS  +58.241s
16 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER  +62.604s

Drivers standings
1 Sebastian Vettel GER FERRARI 54
2 Lewis Hamilton GBR MERCEDES 45
3 Valtteri Bottas FIN MERCEDES 40
4 Daniel Ricciardo AUS RED BULL RACING  37
5 Kimi Räikkönen FIN FERRARI 30
6 Fernando Alonso ESP MCLAREN RENAULT 22
7 Nico Hulkenberg GER RENAULT 22
8 Max Verstappen NED RED BULL RACING 18
9 Pierre Gasly FRA SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 12
10 Kevin Magnussen DEN HAAS FERRARI 11
11 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL MCLAREN RENAULT 6
12 Carlos Sainz ESP RENAULT 3
13 Marcus Ericsson SWE SAUBER FERRARI 2
14 Esteban Ocon FRA FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1

Constructors Rankings
1 MERCEDES 85
2 FERRARI 84
3 RED BULL RACING  55
4 MCLAREN RENAULT 28
5 RENAULT 25
6 SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 12
7 HAAS FERRARI 11
8 SAUBER FERRARI 2
9 FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 1