Daniil Kvyat drove a superbly controlled Chinese Grand Prix to claim his second career podium finish and the team’s first of 2016, while Daniel Ricciardo battled back from the heartbreak of an early puncture while leading to claim P4.
Daniel's race got off to a fantastic start as, from P2 on the grid, he beat pole position man Nico Rosberg to the punch when the lights went out for the start. The Aussie raced into the lead but as Rosberg slotted into second place, drama was unfolding behind. As Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen went into Turn One in P3 he made a mistake and ran wide. His team-mate Sebastian Vettel drew alongside seeking to go down the inside.
That space was, however, occupied by the fast-starting Dany, who powered towards the first corner on the inside of Vettel. The four-time champion was forced to adjust and he collided with Raikkonen. Both shipped damage and dropped back. Raikkonen pitted for a new nose and eventually finished fifth, while Vettel fell to P8. Dany though held his line and emerged from Turn one in P3.
I'm a very happy man today and it's nice to carry this feeling to Russia.
At the back of the field another collision saw Lewis Hamilton, who had started last after failing to set a time in qualifying and due to an overnight power unit change, ran over the debris from the collisions ahead and then was hit by Felipe Nasr.
Daniel, meanwhile, was busy trying to keep Rosberg at bay at the front of the field. On the very next lap, though, the Aussie hit debris on the track and suffered a rear-left puncture. The incident occurred late in the lap and he quickly dived into the pit lane for a new set of tyres.
The debris on track led to a Safety Car period during which Danby pitted for new soft tyres. He rejoined in P6 behind a clutch of drivers who had not take the opportunity to pit and when the action restarted he quickly made his way past the slower cars, eventually reclaiming P2 on lap 12.
He made his second stop on lap 26 and then found himself back in P2 but with a hard-charging Vettel right on his tail, a second behind. The Ferrari driver had pitted for a new nose cone during the SC period and had quickly risen through the order. He now began to put the pressure on Dany but the Russian handled it with aplomb and all through the stint he kept Vettel at bay.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
- 4, 4, 4 - is Daniel Ricciardo's best start to an F1 season by a long way. His record previous is 9, 12, 17 (2012); DNF, DNF, 7 (2013); DSQ, DNF, 4 (2014); 6, 10, 9 (2015).
- 2nd – career podium finish for Dany. The first came in Hungary last year, where he finished second.
- 349.9km/h – Daniel was fastest of all through the speed trap.
In the second part of the race I drove probably one of the best races in my life.
The pair pitted simultaneously on lap 35 and while Dany took on medium tyres Vettel opted for soft rubber. The German then used the quicker warm-up and great pace of the yellow-banded tyres to make his move and he passed Dany on lap 36. Dany though, then settled into P3, and controlled things effortlessly to bring the car to his second career podium finish.
After his early difficulties, Daniel dropped to P17 but the Aussie drove a brilliantly aggressive race to battle back to fourth. After rising to P4 in advance of his final stop he then pitted on lap 37 for medium rubber.
That dropped him to P8 behind Hamilton. He shadowed the champion as they made they way past Sergio Perez and then, as the Mercedes driver, on older tyres, tried to set up a move on Valtteri Bottas, Daniel seized the moment and brushed past the champion with a good move under braking into Turn 6. He dismissed Felipe Massa later in the lap to take a fourth place he would hold until the chequered flag.
With Vettel second ahead of the Red Bulls, fifth place went to Raikkonen, with Massa sixth ahead of Hamilton. Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen was eighth ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz and the final points position was taken by Bottas.