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Formula 1: Ricciardo wins thriller in China


A Lap 31 Safety Car in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix opened the door for Red Bull Racing to pit both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen for soft Pirelli tires following the opening round of stops.

Both drivers went on a charge from there, creating a seemingly endless string of late-race dramatics as they tried carving their way through the leading Mercedes AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari cars.

Ricciardo in particular used the fresher, soft tires to his full advantage, ripping through the field and squeezing inside of then leader Valtteri Bottas in Turn 6 on Lap 45 to take his first win of the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.

Teammate Verstappen was on an equally furious charge, but his race went wrong on Lap 43 when he tried a last-second dive inside of Sebastian Vettel in the Turn 14 hairpin, resulting in contact and spins for both cars. They continued on, but Verstappen was handed a 10-second time penalty for initiating the contact, while Vettel slipped back to eighth at the race’s end.

Vettel led off the start from Bottas, Verstappen, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, and Ricciardo, with the order remaining largely unchanged until the first pit stops began.

Bottas managed to jump ahead of Vettel by pitting earlier – he pitted on Lap 19, while Vettel pitted one lap later – while Raikkonen ran longer on his stint. However, that strategy ultimately cost Raikkonen, as he emerged in sixth after he pitted on Lap 28, behind Bottas, Vettel, Vertsappen, Hamilton, and Ricciardo.

The second-half dramatics kicked off on Lap 30, with the Scuderia Toro Rosso teammates getting together in the Turn 14 hairpin as Pierre Gasly tried a dive inside of Brendon Hartley. The two made contact, sending Hartley into a spin and spreading debris all over the track.

The incident necessitated a Safety Car to clean the circuit, and the Red Bull team used it as a chance to change strategies and pit for new tires – both Ricciardo and Verstappen took on the soft compound Pirellis, while the other leaders stayed out, having changed to mediums on their initial pit stops.

The battle for victory commenced following a Lap 36 restart, with Ricciardo immediately going on the attack. He got by Raikkonen for fifth in Turn 14 one lap later, and moved around Verstappen when he drifted wide and briefly into a runoff area after trying to pass Hamilton.

Ricciardo then set his sights on Hamilton himself, getting the four-time world champion with a lunge up the inside in Turn 14 to take third on Lap 40. Two laps later, he drafted by Vettel for second on the long back straightaway, and took aim at Bottas for the lead from there.

It was inevitable that Ricciardo would catch Bottas for the lead before the race ended, and he made quick work of the Mercedes driver on Lap 45, squeezing up the inside in Turn 6 to take the lead, which he held from there to take the win.

Bottas held off a late challenge from Raikkonen for second, while Verstappen crossed the line fourth, but was demoted to fifth because of his penalty. That vaulted Hamilton into fourth in the official results.

Renault Sport F1 Team’s Nico Hulkenberg was sixth, followed by McLaren F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso in seventh. Vettel faded to eighth, his tires worn out after his contact and spin with Verstappen.

Carlos Sainz Jr. finished ninth in the sister Renault, and Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen finished tenth to round out the points finishers.

Vettel remains in the championship lead, with 54 points to his name through three races. Hamilton closed the gap slightly and sits on 45 points, nine back of Vettel. Bottas sits third with 40 points.

Results are below. Formula 1 takes next weekend off before the next event, the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 29.


F1 Preview: 2018 German Grand Prix

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The German Grand Prix continues its biennial presence on the Formula 1 calendar – it’s hosted F1 events in even numbered years since 2014 – as Formula 1 returns to the Hockenheimring this weekend.

The German fans will undoubtedly be joyful in Sebastian Vettel entering his home race in the championship lead, by nine points over Lewis Hamilton. Yet, somewhat surprisingly, Vettel despite being one of the most successful and decorated drivers of his generation, Vettel has won in Germany only once (2013, at the Nurburgring) and he has never won at Hockenheim.

Conversely, Hamilton has won in Germany three times, including twice at Hockenheim (2008 and 2016).

As such, Vettel will hope to add to his points lead over Hamilton with a win on home soil, though Hamilton may be equally as motivated after watching Vettel his own home race at Silverstone two weeks ago.

Nevertheless, their 2018 championship duel will most certainly continue to be closely fought.

Talking points ahead of the German Grand Prix are below.

A Different World in 2018 vs. 2016

Nico Rosberg during the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 31, 2016 in Hockenheim, Germany. Photo: Getty Images

The Formula 1 landscape looked completely different back in 2016, the last time Formula 1 visited the Hockenheimring. Bernie Ecclestone was still the chief executive of Formula 1.

Nico Rosberg was partnering Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes team, and was on his way to a driver’s championship that year.

Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen were in the midst of a slump as Ferrari went winless in 2016.

The world was still getting to know a then 18-year-old Max Verstappen, the young Dutchman having won the Spanish Grand Prix in May that year.

And the cars looked completely different, with skinnier and taller rear wings and taller rear tires highlighting the appearance differences.

In 2018, Vettel and Ferrari might be the strongest combination. Rosberg is long from Mercedes, and Valtteri Bottas is doing his best to shine in the wake of Hamilton’s enormous shadow.

Verstappen is still a rising star, though he has come under fire at times for overly aggressive driving and his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo has garnered more headlines this year, with a pair of race wins alongside his status as an F1 free agent after 2018.

In short, the Formula 1 landscape is hardly recognizable from what it was back in 2016. And even though Hamilton won that year, followed by Ricciardo and Verstappen in second and third, very little will carry over from that race two years ago.

Hamilton, Mercedes Look to Take Back Momentum from Vettel, Ferrari

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 08: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 leads Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 8, 2018 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

The seesaw championship fight has tilted back in the favor of Ferrari, with Vettel leading Hamilton after finishes of third and first in Austria and England. Hamilton, meanwhile, DNF’ed in Austria and came home second in England after spinning on Lap 1.

Hamilton trails by nine points, but this is hardly an unfamiliar position for Hamilton in 2018 – he started the year trailing Vettel until he took the championship lead for the first time after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Both teams have had multiple swings of momentum this year – Vettel won the opening two races before finishes of eighth in China (he spun after contact with Verstappen) and a pair of fourth place efforts in Azerbaijan and Spain before getting two more wins in Canada and England.

Hamilton, meanwhile stumbled out of the gates somewhat with finishes of second and third before taking a fortuitous win in Azerbaijan and two dominant wins in Spain and France before the misfortune in Austria.

All told the ebb and flow of the 2018 season seems to change with every race, and while Vettel now leads Hamilton again, things could change this weekend.

Raikkonen Trying to Fend off Ricciardo, Bottas

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 06: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 6, 2018 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Kimi Raikkonen is somewhat of a forgotten man this Formula 1 season, but he does rank third in the championship at the moment, 10 points ahead of Ricciardo and 12 points ahead of Bottas.

However, both Ricciardo and Bottas are likely thought to have had better seasons – Ricciardo has the aforementioned wins (at China and Monaco) and the only thing that has kept Bottas from the top step of the podium is a string of horrendous luck.

However, Raikkonen, to his credit, has picked up the pieces whenever others around him have faltered, and he has six podium finishes through 10 races.

However, in order to fully silence any critics, and maybe even keep his Ferrari drive, Raikkonen would do well to get a win in 2018.


  • The driver challenging Raikkonen’s position within Ferrari is Sauber’s Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari junior driver has five points finishes, and that could have been six if not for a pit stop error at Silverstone that caused him to leave his pit stall with a loose wheel – it forced him to retire. Leclerc’s star is on the rise, and he could shine again in Germany.
  • Nico Hulkenberg is the “other” German driver on the grid. And though he has a 24 Hours of Le Mans win to his name, he is yet to finish on the podium in an F1 race. The Renault package may not be a podium threat in usual circumstances, but if he stays clean and others falter, he could sneak in there…and doing so in his home race would make that overdue podium even sweeter.
  • After a pair of eighth place finishes, Fernando Alonso has helped McLaren at least stop the bleeding after a dismal stretch of races from Monaco through France in which the team scored zero points. However, the team still has a long way to go, and Germany could be another weekend of struggles.