Daniel Ricciardo storms to victory as championship leaders toil at Chinese GP

Daniel Ricciardo storms to victory as championship leaders toil at Chinese GP

The Red Bull driver benefitted from a mid-race Safety Car to change tyres while those ahead did not with the additional grip allowing him to produce a series of remarkable overtakes to move from P6 to P1 in a insane 10 or so laps which shook up the championship order.

The Australian, who only made it into qualifying with seconds to spare after his blown engine had to be rebuilt, took the lead with just 10 laps to go in Shanghai when he charged past race leader Valtteri Bottas, who finished second in a Mercedes. "They are all pretty fun but that was unexpected".

Ricciardo was able to make it out for a single hot lap in the first part of qualifying and managed to qualify sixth - less than two tenths of a second behind fifth-place teammate Max Verstappen. "I didn't expect that", he said after the race. "I had no pace".

Vettel, who already holds a 17-point lead over Hamilton with victories at the opening two Global Positioning System, saw off Raikkonen's challenge to edge out the Finn with a dramatic last lap.

His pass on Lewis Hamilton on the turn 14 hairpin from well back was particularly audacious, seemingly catching the four-time world champion by surprise.

Vettel was also passed by the McLaren of Fernando Alonso two laps from the end.

Ricciardo paid tribute to his mechanics, who worked for three hours before qualifying to replace his engine, which had failed in free practice three.

"Some of the issues I've had before, like close to the limiter and when I'm shifting and stuff it just doesn't really work properly".

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"I'm happy to have got out in qualifying and I want to thank the mechanics for doing such a great job", said Ricciardo.

Bottas would hold off a charging Raikkonen in the closing lap to complete the podium but the result means that for the first time in the hybrid era, Mercedes has gone three races without a win.

The battle for the lead had reached a stalemate by lap 35 after Valtteri Bottas had jumped Sebastian Vettel in the pit stop window, but a clumsy collision between Toro Rosso teammates Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley created enough debris to trigger a safety auto, at which point Red Bull Racing pounced into an emergency pit stop.

The advantage of fresh tyres allowed Verstappen and Ricciardo to scythe through the field.

"It is disappointing. We gave it everything we had", said Bottas.

Verstappen botched his chances of victory, and a possible one-two for Red Bull, with scrappy attempts to overtake the main title contenders.

Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas appeared on course for an excellent victory over Vettel before the safety auto period after the Finn jumped the Ferrari during their pit stops. Vettel quickly fell off the pace and dropped to eighth after Nico Hulkenberg moved through amid speculation the Ferrari had suffered damage.

Carlos Sainz just missed out on passing the Ferrari on the last lap and had to settle for ninth with Kevin Magnussen completing the top 10 points scorers for Haas.

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