Chinese Grand Prix - A podium and regrets

15 Apr 2018

Kimi third but Seb gets hit and finishes eighth. The Safety Car called the shots

Shanghai, 15 April –This race was decided by the arrival of the safety car and tyre strategy. Scuderia Ferrari finished on the podium thanks to Kimi Raikkonen’s third place, but having started from pole, Sebastian Vettel had to settle for eighth place after Verstappen ran into him, thus dropping him down the order. However, the German still leads the Drivers’ championship classification.

Both SF71Hs were on the front row, but the start was closely contested. Seb maintained his pole advantage, but Kimi had to give best to Bottas and also came under attack from Verstappen, who had the advantage of running the Ultrasoft tyres and had also passed Hamilton. The race leader extended his lead to a couple of seconds, to stay out of the DRS range and Kimi was also fending off Hamilton. At the moment, the very long Shanghai straight was not the scene of any overtaking.

Over the radio, it was time to discuss strategy. Red Bull did a double tyre change on lap 18 and Kimi made the most of the clear air to set his fastest time, while Hamilton headed for the pits to fit Mediums. One lap later (number 20) it was Bottas’ turn to pit and Ferrari reacted, but the pit stop took a few tenths too long and coming out of pit lane, Vettel found himself behind Valtteri, who had pushed really hard on his out lap.

Now there was a group of three: Raikkonen, yet to change tyres, was attacked by Bottas, but held him off at the hairpin. This allowed Seb to close and when Kimi had to give best before pitting, the number 5 car was in the DRS zone. Time for another thrilling duel, the third in as many races. On lap 32, the Safety Car came out to allow debris to be cleared away after the two Toro Rossos had collided at the hairpin. Our boys stayed out and Kimi gained ground on Ricciardo who had pitted.

The race resumed on lap 36 and, on new Softs, Ricciardo attacked Kimi who had lost time with Verstappen. Max himself went off track while attacking Hamilton, and Ricciardo got past. The Red Bull pair had the edge in terms of tyres and Verstappen was thus able to repass Hamilton, while Ricciardo got ahead of Seb. Verstappen also tried to get ahead of the German but instead, he tipped the Ferrari into a spin on lap 44. The Stewards investigated the incident and gave Verstappen a 10 second penalty.

Kimi was third, faster than Bottas, who had lost the lead to Ricciardo, but Sebastian had dropped down to seventh with damage to the side of his car, so that even Alonso barged past him. The world champion could do nothing other than defend his eighth place from a last attack from Sainz.

Scuderia Ferrari comments:
Kimi Raikkonen
Sebastian Vettel
Maurizio Arrivabene


Pos
Driver
Car
Laps
Time/Retired
1
Daniel
Ricciardo
Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer
56
1:35:36.380
2
Valtteri
Bottas
Mercedes
56
+8.894s
3
Kimi
Räikkönen
Ferrari
56
+9.637s
4
Lewis
Hamilton
Mercedes
56
+16.985s
5
Max
Verstappen
Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer
56
+20.436s
6
Nico
Hulkenberg
Renault
56
+21.052s
7
Fernando
Alonso
McLaren Renault
56
+30.639s
8
Sebastian
Vettel
Ferrari
56
+35.286s
9
Carlos
Sainz
Renault
56
+35.763s
10
Kevin
Magnussen
Haas Ferrari
56
+39.594s
11
Esteban
Ocon
Force India Mercedes
56
+44.050s
12
Sergio
Perez
Force India Mercedes
56
+44.725s
13
Stoffel
Vandoorne
McLaren Renault
56
+49.373s
14
Lance
Stroll
Williams Mercedes
56
+55.490s
15
Sergey
Sirotkin
Williams Mercedes
56
+58.241s
16
Marcus
Ericsson
Sauber Ferrari
56
+62.604s
17
Romain
Grosjean
Haas Ferrari
56
+65.296s
18
Pierre
Gasly
Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda
56
+66.330s
19
Charles
Leclerc
Sauber Ferrari
56
+82.575s
20
Brendon
Hartley
Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda
51
DNF

Latest news