All eyes turned to the Chinese Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton looking to lock horns once again.
The German made pole, with Hamilton back in fourth, but the Brit was confident of overturning Vettel’s advantage on the day. However, things didn’t go to plan for either in what was an extraordinary race, with Daniel Ricciardo claiming a sensational victory after starting the race in 6th.
The race really came to life with 20 laps to go and it was Red Bull’s Ricciardo who took full advantage with a superb drive in which he made it past five cars. It was a disappointing race for Lewis Hamilton as he had to settle for 5th place before he was promoted back to 4th ahead of Max Verstappen who was penalised for causing a crash with Sebastian Vettel, who as a result failed to finish the race.
It was a great race for Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas too, who would have won the race if it wasn’t for the efforts of Daniel Ricciardo. Bottas is now only five points behind Hamilton in the driver’s standards, with Ricciardo three behind the Finn. So, if anything the Chinese Grand Prix has thrown the title race wide open once again.
The safety car period was the game changer in the race as it opened the door for Red Bull to pit for fresh tyres. Bottas was leading the race at the time, followed by Vettel, Verstappen, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen. Both Mercedes and Ferrari had opted to stick with medium compound tyres but Red Bull’s switch to soft tyres gave them a noticeable pace advantage, which proved to be decisive.
Ricciardo used his advantage superbly as he went past Hamilton, Vettel and Bottas to secure a stunning victory. Ricciardo’s fellow Red Bull driver, Max Verstappen, will have been left kicking himself as he was the favourite to win the race after the switch to softs. However, he misjudged a move to take Hamilton on the outside, ending up off the track, with Ricciardo able to take full advantage.
Questions will once again be asked of Mercedes as they were caught out by the strategy of Red Bull. Hamilton had pointed out to his team that it was a mistake not to change tyres, especially as the ones that were on at the time were not only the slowest, but they had significant life on them too. Likewise, Ferrari also chose not to pit, and this proved to be significant in the outcome of the race.
Next up on the Formula 1 calendar is the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. There’s an extremely long straight on the track, which should certainly play into Ferrari’s hands, with Sebastian Vettel looking to hit back immediately after disappointment in China. There’s a suggestion that the Red Bull’s could run out of puff on the straight, but Daniel Ricciardo did win there last year, and he will be looking to make it two wins from two.