Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo has praised the team for his Chinese Grand Prix victory after his mechanics completed a late engine change with minutes to spare before Saturday's qualifying session. "They are all pretty fun but that was unexpected". Bottas and Vettel had already passed the pit entry when the safety vehicle was deployed so could not have pitted.
Due to the incident between Vettel and Verstappen, Renault F1's Nico Hulkenberg was sixth, 21.052 seconds behind race victor Ricciardo with McLaren-Renault's Fernando Alonso a surprise seventh place after Vettel's Ferrari looked vulnerable following Verstappen's collision. However, neither Mercedes nor Ferrari reacted to the safety auto with their second drivers, leaving Lewis Hamiton, who was running third, and Kimi Raikkonen - fifth after the safety vehicle pitted - to struggle to the end on used rubber.
He held second on lap 21 when benefiting from Vettel's slow pitstop, and seized the lead briefly on lap 26 when overtaking Kimi Raikkonen.
The second Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after a hard race, with the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettelonly eighth after a mid-race collision with Max Verstappen's Red Bull.
"We didn't assume we went to escape only in qualifying and over twenty four hours later, now to be here.this game'so insane".
Race leader Valletri Bottas, in the Mercedes, and championship leader Sebastian Vettel had just passed the pitlane when the safety auto came out and were forced to go to the end on their sets of soft tyres.
With faster tyres that were also ten laps fresher than that of the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers that they were chasing and little time lost due to pitting under the safety auto period, Verstappen and Ricciardo were suddenly placed with a genuine shot at an unlikely victory.
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For Ricciardo, he finally had reason 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.
Vettel looked likely to finish seventh, but was overtaken by McLaren's Fernando Alonso on the penultimate lap to finish even further down the order.
"I feel like every win I've had it's been a similar circumstance". "If we put ourselves 24 hours ago, I thought we may be starting from the back of the grid".
Verstappen was still going and soon took overtook Hamilton for the second time to retake fourth place, though his time penalty meant the Dutchman ultimately finished in fifth place. "This was not what I expected". The team were rewarded for getting out in qualy but this is the best reward.
"That gave us a bit of grip on the restart". We had the soft tyres, so I knew I could get more out of the braking than them.
Bottas, who had jumped Vettel by pitting one lap earlier, said he was helpless as soon as he saw Ricciardo had cleared the rest of the field.
Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third: "I think we made a good start, got blocked a bit and got passed in the first corner. That is racing. These things happen". It does get you down a lot.