Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo celebrated with a trademark champagne “shoey” after winning a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, just a day after engine trouble nearly cost him a shot at qualifying.
The Australian carved his way through the field from sixth place, after taking on fresh tyres under a safety car, to storm to the sixth grand prix victory of his career.
“I don’t seem to win boring races. They’re all pretty fun,” said an elated Ricciardo, who filled one of his shoes with champagne on the podium and chugged it in a signature “shoey” victory celebration.
Ricciardo was quick to praise his mechanics for their work on Saturday. He only made it into qualifying with about a minute to spare after a blown engine in final free practice.
“Twenty-four hours ago I thought we might be starting at the back of the grid. So, firstly thanks to the boys yesterday. Today is the real reward for that work.”
Ricciardo took the lead with just 10 laps to go when he charged past then-leader Valtteri Bottas, who ended up second in his Mercedes. Kimi Raikkonen was third for Ferrari.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who led from the pole until the first set of tyre stops, dropped back to finish eighth after a collision with Max Verstappen, who was penalised 10 seconds for hitting the German.
Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton missed out on the podium for the first time this season, crossing the line fifth behind Verstappen. He was promoted to fourth after the Dutchman’s penalty was applied.
Red Bull ‘miracle’
“It is disappointing. We gave it everything we had,” said Hamilton’s teammate Bottas. “It felt like we should have had the victory, but not today.”
Red Bull’s win adds a fresh wrinkle to a season in which Ferrari had surged out in front, with Vettel stunning Hamilton and Mercedes by taking the first two races of the season in Australia and Bahrain.
Mercedes have edged in front in the constructors’ championship by a single point from the Italian team, which saw Vettel’s lead at the top of the drivers’ standings cut to nine points by Hamilton.
Ricciardo finally had something to celebrate after he just missed a podium spot at home in Australia following a grid penalty, and had to retire in Bahrain due to mechanical problems.
He faced more heartache in Shanghai after his Renault engine went up in smoke halfway through the final practice session on Saturday.
Team boss Christian Horner had said they would need a “miracle” to get ready again before qualifying began.
They barely made it, with mechanics seen snapping pieces of the car’s body back into place with about a minute to spare.
“This sport’s crazy. A week ago I had my head down after two laps. Frustrated at the sport, frustrated at all the variables involved in the sport,” Ricciardo said.
“But then when you have a day like this and it’s worth 50 of those bad ones.”
It was a day to forget for Vettel, however, who started from the pole next to teammate Raikkonen in a lockout for Ferrari.
Vettel seemed headed for the podium in third on lap 43 when Verstappen clipped him on turn 14, sending them both spinning and several places down the race order.
It was the second straight weekend in which the hard-driving Verstappen was involved in a collision.
He and Hamilton had a run-in in Bahrain, after which the Englishman was overheard lobbing an expletive at the young Dutchman.
“I don’t think I have to say anything here,” a disgusted Vettel said over his radio in an obvious reference to the Dutchman’s aggressive style.
Ricciardo drove aggressively as well, taking advantage of the tyre change during the safety car to dart past Hamilton, Vettel and then Bottas in relatively short order to take a lead he would not relinquish.