Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo was the undoubted star of the Chinese Grand Prix, he astounded and thrilled billions with a master class in how to overtake and win a Formula 1 race when the odds are stacked against you.
After the safety car which played into the big smiling Aussie’s hands as his team were quick to seize on the opportunity to pop soft tyres onto the RB14. Thereafter he was simply in another league as he picked off Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas on the way to his sweetest victory.
Hos Red Bull crew also deserve a mention as they reminded everyone that F1 actually is a team sport. On Saturday, between FP3 and qualy, they changed the engine on his car in record time and got him out into Q1 with a couple of minutes to spare and he duly qualified the car in sixth.
On race day they were faultless as twice, under huge duress, they stacked their drivers during the pitstops when a slight mistake would have compromised their drivers. But there were no mistakes and their man went on to claim a famous victory against the odds.
The big smiling Aussie spoke after the race:
Daniel, many congratulations. In winter testing, if someone had said to you: Red Bull will win a race this year before Mercedes what would have been your reaction? Daniel Ricciardo: Good job. Yeah, pretty cool. Holy Testicle Tuesday! I don’t know. I’m sitting here, reciting everything in my head what just happened. Yeah, awesome. Even after yesterday. I’ve only got six, it’s not a whole lot but the wins seem to come under always some circumstances. Baku, and this one now where we really thought we were going to start the race at the back. We didn’t think we were going to get out in qualifying and, just over 24 hours later, now to be here, it’s… this sport’s crazy. A week ago I was with my head down after two laps on Sunday. Yeah, frustrated at the sport, frustrated at all the variables that are involved in the sport. Sometimes I question why I chose this sport because there’s so many other things out of your control and it does get you down a lot – but then when you have a day like this it’s worth fifty of those bad ones.
Daniel, you’ve pulled off a lot of spectacular overtakes already in your Formula One career, not just to win races. Where does the overtake on Valtteri today rank and can you just talk us through what was going on in the car and going on in your head at the beginning of that process, through the overtake and afterwards? DR: Yeah. Opportunity be knocking! That’s what I would say. I could tell that obviously we had the advantage coming in at the safety car and having those softs. Yeah, I sensed the opportunity. Initially it was ‘OK, maybe now we can fight for the podium’ and at the rate that we were going through the field, and I could feel the tyres were holding on well, then it was obviously fully set on the win. Yeah, I don’t know. Obviously I had pace over all the guys that I got ahead of but you still don’t want to sit behind for too long. I saw Valtteri defend but I was kind of committed already from turn three that I was going to try. It was cool, it was close but I would say close but fair and it’s cool when you go wheel-to-wheel and I think it’s fun for drivers and it’s good TV so I enjoyed it. It makes it a bit sweeter than just maybe cruising past on the straight so that was a lot of fun.
Daniel, why didn’t you share your shoey with Valtteri and Kimi? DR: To be honest, actually I don’t know if I’ve ever offered it to Kimi but to be honest I sprayed most of the champagne so I didn’t have that much more and obviously I saw my number one mechanic Genty (Chris Gent) and he was the priority at the time. There wasn’t enough to go round today unfortunately. Hopefully there’s plenty more opportunities.
Daniel, you kept your cool throughout the race. What was in your mind when you saw that Max had made a mistake and you overtook him? DR: I could see it coming a few corners before. Obviously I saw he was close to Lewis out of ‘three’. I wasn’t close enough to be involved at that moment so yeah, I was just watching, I guess and obviously if there is some contact, I’ve got to then position myself and try and be prepared. Yeah, then I saw he was trying on the outside of ‘seven’ and I could see them both drift wide and I could see that one car was probably not going to make it, so the difficult thing was then when Max went off track I wasn’t sure if he was going to slide back across, hold the line, so that was quite tricky initially, but then I could see he was coming on with quite a bit of speed so then it was quite easy in my mind to cut across the inside to let him go. But yeah, even those things, they happen so fast and you’re still in the heat of the battle so it’s quite hard to always pick the right move. Fortunately I didn’t really lose any time with that and yeah, it was pretty close, so I don’t know what the viewers thought but it seemed like it was a pretty close battle.
Meaning of Holy Testicle Tuesday:
An expression used to describe your emotions after an extremely catastrophic event. No one knows the origin, or the actual date the testicles become holy. (Source: Urban Dictionary)