[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] CHINESE GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Formula 1 news story about [F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] CHINESE GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo has won the Chinese Grand Prix for the first time, making the best of a stacked pit stop under the safety car and successive last-blast passes on his rivals to take his sixth victory in the sport, his first since Azerbaijan last year.

The Australian took his Red Bull team’s first win in China since 2010, despite a turbocharger failure in final practice - and last-minute engine change that almost cost him taking part in qualifying, the RB14 exiting the garage with just minutes to spare. Ricciardo again confirmed his reputation as an out-and-out racer, the 28-year-old winning all of his Grands Prix from the second row or lower - China secured from sixth on the grid.

“I don’t seem to win boring races,” Ricciardo said, beaming on the podium. “They’re all pretty fun. That was unexpected. Putting ourselves 24 hours ago, I thought we may be starting at the back of the grid.”

“It was hectic. I heard safety car in Turn 14 and they said we’re going to double stop in the box. It happened very quickly, but very decisive moves, winning moves also to the team, so thanks a lot. Fat lip and all, I got the win!”

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was unlucky to finish second in his 100th Grand Prix start, the Finn taking the lead on Lap 21, but a safety car for the Toro Rossos colliding at the Turn 14 hairpin on Lap 32 cost him his momentum on mediums against Ricciardo’s charge on newer softs.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was third, despite dropping to fourth at the start with his teammate Sebastian Vettel squeezing him down to Turn 1. He lost out by staying out too long for his stop, falling back to P6, but the safety car helped him move forward.

The sport now has a two week break until the next race at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where Daniel Ricciardo won last year.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 56 1:35:36.380 0
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 56 +8.894s 0
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 56 +9.637s 0
4 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56 +16.985s 0
5 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 56 +20.436s 0
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 56 +21.052s 0

Here’s how the FORMULA 1 2018 CHINESE GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:

Build Up:
There’s plenty of intrigue ahead of the Formula 1 2018 Chinese Grand Prix, with what we think could be the changing of the guard from Mercedes to Ferrari - in terms of the dominant force in F1. The Shanghai International Circuit has, in the past, been a textbook Silver Arrows track and Lewis Hamilton the most successful here with five wins. But, Ferrari has shown it’s likely got the pace in all temperatures and track configurations.

Sebastian Vettel took his 52nd pole yesterday, Ferrari’s first in China since 2004. The Ferraris more than half a second up on the Mercedes, Hamilton just unable to pull those crucial final tenths out. On the grid, it’s two Ferraris followed by two Mercedes, then two Red Bulls. The front two rows starting on the softs, the Red Bulls on the ultrasofts. It’s the first time we’ve had a step between the compounds, but the key question is how long will the ultrasofts for. It’s thought around 6-7 laps, so the Red Bulls will have to turn it on at the start to split the Ferraris and Mercedes.

Hamilton is yet to score a win for the year, his last taken at the 2017 United States Grand Prix in October, so he’ll be keen to get that monkey off his back - starting P4. And he’s got his teammate, Valtteri Bottas starting ahead of him on the grid. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen starts ahead of Daniel Ricciardo for the first time in China, and it’ll be a key fight for those two - with Ricciardo changing his engine ahead of qualifying, making it out in Q1 with minutes to spare (losing most of final practice with a turbocharger failure).

Kimi Raikkonen starts from the front row for the 41st time, his third-straight this year, but he hasn’t won a race since Australia 2013 - five years ago. It’s another chance for him to try and get ahead of Vettel into the first corner, but will he have to play the traditional number two role - running interference for his teammate? There’s no doubt he’s looking very much in form, showing plenty of speed in the twilight of his career at age 38.

It’ll be very interesting to see how things turn out strategy wise, with the Red Bulls committed to a two-stop. But with a one-stop marginal in China, could we see Ferrari and Mercedes holding onto track position and making their tyres last for a one-stop - both manufacturers starting on the more durable softs. It’s certainly warmer for the race than qualifying, the track temp 39 degrees Celsius and ambient 19 - so a good 7-10 degrees warmer than yesterday.

Hamilton is saying that his left-rear has taken quite a beating so he thinks a one-stop is doubtful, but is that a bluff for Ferrari?

Formation Lap:
Formation lap is underway at the front two rows - both Ferraris and Mercedes - are on the softs. From P5-10 (Verstappen, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Perez, Sainz, Grosjean) are all on ultrasofts as per what they set their fastest time in Q2. The rest are on softs, with the exception of Hartley on the ultrasofts and Gasly on the mediums - the only one to start on the hardest rubber.

Lap 1:
Vettel gets a great start, with Raikkonen dragging him down but loses out to Bottas who slots into second. Verstappen has passed Raikkonen going into Turn 6. Hamilton is all over the back of Raikkonen, the Finn losing out here. The two Renaults side by side down the back straight

Lap 2:
Vettel leads, setting the fastest lap, 1.3 seconds ahead of Bottas. Verstappen is in P3, ahead of Raikkonen. Hamilton is in P5, ahead of Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Grosjean and Magnussen the top-10. Hamilton is within a second of Raikkonen in P5. Bottas in P2 half a second off Vettel in sector 2.

Lap 3:
Vettel sets the fastest lap, a 1:38.417. He’s 2-seconds up on Bottas. DRS enabled now. Vettel’s last lap, 0.9 faster than Bottas. Hamilton has dropped back from Raikkonen in P5, 1.2 seconds now the gap.

Lap 4:
Vettel leads Bottas, 2.3 seconds the gap. Then its Verstappen, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Grosjean, Magnussen for the top-10. Magnussen in P10 is 0.7 adrift of his teammate. Ocon in P13 is chasing down Stroll, 0.7 the gap there as well. Vandoorne in P16 is 0.5 behind Williams rookie Sirotkin.

Lap 5:
Vettel leads Bottas by 2.1 seconds, the trailing Finn doing his personal best lap - two tenths faster than Vettel on that last lap. Verstappen has closed down the gap to Bottas to 2.1 seconds as well. We’re already seeing a fairy drawn out field, so pit stops will be crucial for drivers to get ahead with everyone settling down.

Lap 6:
Vettel pulling out a gap to Bottas, a tenth faster on that last lap, now 2.5 seconds the gap. Verstappen 2.7 seconds behind in third.

Lap 7:
Bottas done fastest sector three last lap. Ocon has taken place back from Stroll. Vettel leads Bottas by 2.5 seconds, Verstappen 3-seconds adrift of the Finn now, as the ultrasofts start going off. Two Haas cars squabbling over the radio over place changed for P9.

Lap 8:
Bottas is keeping Vettel in touch, 2.2 seconds the gap to the leader. Perez in P14 is 0.6 sec behind Stroll, and you’d expect the Mexican to pass him very soon. Alonso in P11 is less than 0.4 behind Grosjean, and the Spaniard tries passing him into the hairpin - can’t make it stick.

Lap 9:
Vettel leads Bottas by 2.6 seconds, Verstappen now 4.1 seconds behind Bottas. Raikkonen in P4 is 2.2 seconds behind the Dutchman. Gasly faster than his teammate, despite being on the harder mediums - could that affect the leader’s choice?

Lap 10:
Hamilton 10.4 seconds off the lead, he’s 1.2 seconds behind Raikkonen - and sounding dejected over the radio, unable to challenge the Finn who is very aggressive. Vettel leads Bottas by 2.5 seconds. Hulkenberg in P7 is 9-seconds behind Raikkonen, top-six covered by 12 seconds.

Lap 11:
Vettel leads Bottas by 2.5 seconds, the pair doing similar lap times - within a tenth of each other. Verstappen in P3, 5-seconds behind Bottas. Hartley pits for the mediums, matching his teammate’s tyres.

Lap 12:
Vettel pulling out a gap on Bottas, 2.8 secs the difference. Alonso in P11 is 0.7 behind Grosjean and working for the final points. He tries to pass through Turns 6-7, but can’t make it stick again.

Lap 13:
Vettel leads Bottas by 3.1 seconds, as Sainz pits from P9 for mediums. Verstappen in P3 now 5.2 seconds behind Bottas. Perez also pits. Gasly in P15 is less than a second behind Leclerc.

Lap 14:
Vettel leads Bottas by 3.3 seconds, the Finn two tenths slower on that last lap. Hamilton in P5 is 1.7 seconds behind Raikkonen, and the Brit is losing pace - with Ricciardo now 1.7 seconds adrift. Who will be the first of the leaders to pit? Hulkenberg passes Gasly for P14 into Turn 6. Alonso in P9 is still chasing down Grosjean, 1-second the gap.

Lap 15:
Vettel building a gap over Bottas, 3.5 seconds the gap. Hulkenberg passes Leclerc into the hairpin at Turn 14, as does Ocon on Ericsson. Verstappen in P3 is falling away from the leading pair, 5.6 seconds the gap to them. Top-six covered by 15-seconds, top-10 by 44-seconds - with Stroll in the final points paying position.

Lap 16:
Gasly in P15 is having to defend hard against Sainz, but the Spaniard gets through down the back straight and makes it stick into Turn 14. Vettel leads Bottas now by 3.7 seconds. Verstappen in P3 is now just 6.2 seconds.

Lap 17:
Sainz passes Leclerc down the back straight, while Grosjean pits for the mediums. Vettel leads Bottas by 3.5 seconds, with the Finn three tenths up on that last lap.

Lap 18:
Verstappen and Ricciardo pit on the same lap, going onto the medium tyre. A very clean double stack. Will this force the hands of Ferrari and Mercedes? Verstappen rejoins P5, doing the fastest second sector, Ricciardo P7.

Lap 19:
Hamilton told to do the opposite to Raikkonen, but pits from P4 - he goes onto the mediums. 2.5 second stop. He comes out behind Verstappen in P5 ahead of Ricciardo, who has now gotten ahead of Magnussen. Bottas told to push now and give it everything - and is now told to box.

Lap 20:
Vettel flying, while Bottas pits from P2 - onto the mediums. Verstappen sets the fastest lap in P4, a 1:37.755. Has Ferrari dropped the ball on making the move to the mediums? Vettel leads Raikkonen by 11-seconds, but with Bottas another 11-seconds behind - Bottas in P3 22 seconds behind.

Lap 21:
Vettel pits, he’s onto the mediums 2.8 second stop. Bottas takes the lead, so the undercut has worked for Mercedes. Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:36.878. Will Hamilton do the same to Raikkonen when he pits, the Finn currently in the lead but yet to stop.

Lap 22:
It’s Raikkonen in P1, then Bottas, Vettel - who is 1.4 seconds behind. Hulkenberg passes Vandoorne for P10 into the hairpin. So Bottas the effective race leader, the Finn getting ahead care of excellent final sector on in-lap and Vettel’s slower pit stop.

Lap 23:
Hulkenberg passes Stroll for P9 down back straight. So top-10 is RAI, BOT, VET, VER, HAM, RIC, MAG, ALO, HUL, STR. Vandoorne pits from P12. Raikkonen will drop to P6 if he pits now. No drivers now within 1-second of anyone else.

Lap 24:
Raikkonen leads Bottas by 4.8 seconds, but is yet to stop. Vettel in P3 is 1.4 seconds behind Bottas. Verstappen is 6.4 seconds adrift of Vettel. Stroll pits from P10. Ocon in P12 is less than half a second adrift of Sirotkin.

Lap 25:
Raikkonen now leads Bottas by 2.6 seconds, so the Mercedes is bearing down on him. Magnussen pits. Vettel has closed to 1-second of Bottas. Ocon passes Sirotkin for P11. Bottas in a Ferrari sandwich in the lead pack.

Lap 26:
Bottas in P2 is within a second of leader Raikkonen, who is yet to stop. 0.6 the gap. Raikkonen will want to slow down to push Bottas closer to Vettel, so the Finn under huge pressure here for the race lead. Bottas tried to pass Raikkonen into Turn 14, but doesn’t make it stick.

Lap 27:
Bottas passes Raikkonen into Turn 3, after going round the outside into Turn 1. He stays ahead into Turn 6, despite Raikkonen fighting hard. Bottas able to make the move, despite questions pre-race about his ability to make killer moves. So Bottas leads Vettel, as Raikkonen drops behind his teammate to pit.

Lap 28:
Raikkonen pits for mediums, and drops behind both Red Bulls in P6. Bottas leads Vettel but the German is chasing hard, just 0.8 seconds the gap. Will this be a reverse of Bahrain? Magnussen in P10 is chasing Sainz, 0.5 seconds the gap.

Lap 29:
Bottas leads Vettel by 0.9 seconds, the Finn building a gap. As we see a replay of Leclerc sliding into the gravel and rejoining the race. Grosjean in P12 is less than a second behind Ocon. Sirotkin pits. Hamilton in P4 is 2.3 seconds shy of Verstappen.

Lap 30:
Bottas continues to lead Vettel by 1.1 seconds, the Finn pulling out a lead. Yellow flag as two Toro Rossos come together at the hairpin and Hartley stopping and then rejoining.

Lap 31:
FOM having an issue with trackside data, so hopefully it gets sorted soon. Bottas leads Vettel, but a lot of debris shown at the hairpin. Will the race director ask for safety car? Sainz has said it needs to come out.

Lap 32:
Safety car deployed, as both Red Bulls come in for the softs. So top-10 is Bottas, Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Sainz, Ocon. Hulkenberg also pits, along with Sainz and Ocon. So this has completely opened up the race, and Vettel will want to pounce at the restart. Gasly and Hartley under investigation after the race for their clash.

Lap 33:
Replays showing Verstappen passing Gasly on the run to pit lane entry. It’s BOT, VET, HAM, VER, RAI, RIC, MAG, HUL, GRO, PER, ALO, SAI, VAN, OCON, STR, SIR, GAS, LEC, ERI, HAR - as Perez pits. So no retirements as yet, which is very rare. Red Bulls have a tyre advantage, and one step softer than those around them.

Lap 34:
We’re still under the safety car, with lapped cars told now to overtake. Sitotkin pits. Turn 14 showing clear of debris now, only on the outside of the corner - beyond the white track limits.

Lap 35:
We’re still under the safety car in Shanghai, but it’s coming in at the end of this lap. All the medium runners especially will be trying to up the temps in the lead-up to the restart.

Lap 36:
Bottas starts his push down back straight, he’s already got a good lead on Vettel. Two Force Indias look very close at Turn 6. Gasly given a 10- second time penalty for collision with Hartley. Bottas leads Vettel by 1.8 seconds.

Lap 37:
Bottas leads Vettel by 1.7 seconds, Hamilton less than a second behind - Verstappen under pressure from Raikkonen. Ricciardo in P6 all over the back of the Finn. The Australian gets ahead into Turn 14, and makes it stick for P5.

Lap 38:
Bottas leads Vettel by 1.7 seconds still, Hamilton less than a second behind in P3. Verstappen, 1.2 seconds ahead of his teammate. DRS has now been enabled. Bottas’ tyres not blistering, so pace ok for now.

Lap 39:
Bottas still managing the pace against Vettel, the pair doing fairly close times, both 1:37.8s. The top-10 covered by 11-seconds, the top-five covered by just 3.6 seconds. Verstappen touches Hamilton on the run through Turn 8, and the Dutchman goes off the track in doing so.

Lap 40:
Bottas leads Vettel by 1.3 seconds. Hamilton in P3 1.4 seconds adrift. Ricciardo is now ahead of Verstappen, after the Dutchman went off the track. The Australian is less than half a second behind Hamilton - and a shot at the podium. Ricciardo makes the move on Hamilton into Turn 14, a sensational move from long way back - and goes into P3. A banzai move that is the pass of the race.

Lap 41:
So it’s now Bottas, Vettel, Ricciardo - the top-three within 2.1 secs. Can Verstappen in P5 now replicate his teammate’s move on Hamilton? Less than half a second the gap.

Lap 42:
Ricciardo sets the fastest lap, a 1:36.608. He’s on a charge and now within DRS range of Vettel. Could he go P2? Verstappen passes Hamilton into Turn 6. Another impressive move on the inside, Hamilton leaves the door open. So it’s Red Bull in P3 and P4 now, their strategy working to perfection. Ricciardo passes Vettel into Turn 14 for P2, and he makes it stick so Ferrari has come undone.

Lap 43:
It’s Bottas leading Ricciardo by 1.4-seconds, Vettel is in P3 1.3 seconds adrift. Verstappen is P4, Hamilton P5 and Raikkonen P6. Verstappen is all over Vettel into the hairpin, and the two touch and he forces Vettel to spin at Turn 14.

Lap 44:
Hulkenberg passes Vettel for P6 into Turn 1. Verstappen too greedy into the hairpin, as he spears into the Ferrari. Ricciardo is now within DRS range of Bottas, as the Australian fights for the lead. Vettel and Verstappen now under investigation after the race for the clash.

Lap 45:
Ricciardo all over the back of Bottas. The Australian passes Bottas into Turn 6 and he takes the lead. Impressive!

Lap 46:
Ricciardo leads Bottas by 1.6 seconds, Raikkonen now 3-seconds adrift of the pair in P3. It’s then Hamilton, Verstappen, Hulkenberg, Vettel, Magnussen, Alonso and Sainz. Verstappen has a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision.

Lap 47:
Ricciardo sets the fastest lap, a 1:36.221. He’s now 3-seconds up on Bottas, his last lap 1.4 seconds faster than the Finn. Verstappen in P5 is 0.7 seconds adrift of Hamilton. Vettel now incredibly in P7.

Lap 48:
Another fastest lap for Ricciardo, a 1:35.983. Verstappen closing up on Hamilton into Turn 1. He makes the move into Turn 6, the Dutchman up into P4. But has to make up time with a penalty to face.

Lap 49:
Ricciardo now 4-seconds up on Bottas. Raikkonen 1.1 seconds behind his countryman in P3, and closing him down. Verstappen in P4 is 3.3 seconds adrift of Raikkonen.

Lap 50:
Ricciardo still leading Bottas, but Raikkonen chasing down the Mercedes - and now in DRS range.

Lap 51:
Raikkonen can’t make move on Bottas stick into Turn 1.

Lap 52:
Ricciardo leads Bottas by 5-seconds. Raikkonen in P3 is less than half a second behind Bottas. Vettel in P7 is being caught by Alonso, with the German’s rear tyres suffering. Raikkonen chasing down Bottas.

Lap 53:
Top-3 covered by 7.3 seconds, but Raikkonen still in DRS range of Bottas.

Lap 54:
Ricciardo leads Bottas by 6.7 seconds. Alonso in P8 is putting Vettel increasingly under pressure. Raikkonen is 0.6 seconds behind Bottas, and is desperate to jump ahead of his countryman.

Lap 55:
Ricciardo still dominating out front. Alonso passes Vettel into Turn 3, an incredibly close move - the Spaniard going up to P7. Bottas under massive pressure from Raikkonen and Verstappen very close behind - the three covered by just over a second.

Lap 56 - FINAL LAP:
Ricciardo sets the fastest lap, a 1:35.785. Bottas doing just enough it seems to stay ahead of Raikkonen, the flag just ahead. Ricciardo comes through for win number six in F1, his first in China - after a disastrous weekend in which it looked like he wouldn’t even take part in qualifying.

Pos No Driver Car Laps Time/Retired Pts
1 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 56 1:35:36.380 0
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 56 +8.894s 0
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 56 +9.637s 0
4 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56 +16.985s 0
5 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 56 +20.436s 0
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 56 +21.052s 0
7 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 56 +30.639s 0
8 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 56 +35.286s 0
9 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 56 +35.763s 0
10 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 56 +39.594s 0
11 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 56 +44.050s 0
12 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 56 +44.725s 0
13 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 56 +49.373s 0
14 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 56 +55.490s 0
15 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 56 +58.241s 0
16 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 56 +62.604s 0
17 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 56 +65.296s 0
18 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 56 +66.330s 0
19 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 56 +82.575s 0
20 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 51 DNF 0