F1: podium finish just out of reach for Ricciardo in Chinese GP

Daniel Ricciardo behind teammate Max Verstappen.
Daniel Ricciardo behind teammate Max Verstappen.

PERTH’S Daniel Ricciardo finished a fine fourth in yesterday’s Chinese Grand Prix, just a fraction of a second behind teammate Max Verstappen, to give Red Bull Racing a promising future for the 2017 Formula One season.

The race, won by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton from Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel, had a chaotic start in damp conditions that resulted in safety cars being called out twice after crashes in the first four laps and many drivers calling into the pits for different tyres as the track dried out.

But up front it was Hamilton all the way, comfortably clear of Vettel.

Drive of the day was by Verstappen, who started from 16th place after software problems eliminated him from the top 15 qualifiers.

The young Dutch driver overtook nine rivals on the first lap, eventually moving into third place and barely managed to hold off a fast-closing Ricciardo, finishing just an eighth of a second second ahead.

It was the second time Ricciardo scored a fourth place at the Shanghai circuit.

He had what he called the best performance of his career there in 2016.

“I have mixed emotions,” he said after the race.

“It’s obviously disappointing to miss out on the podium. It was so close today but as a team it’s a good result to finish third and fourth.

“I lost a lot of time in the first stint as I struggled to keep my front tyres alive and that pretty much put us out of a podium position.

“As a team we should be pleased with the result and we learnt a lot today but we still have some work to do to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari.”

Team principal Christian Horner described the event as “a great performance by the team”.

“To come away third and fourth is a very positive result, and we also achieved our 100th podium as a team,” he said.

“Still plenty to do, but leaving China with 27 points is extremely positive.”

Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth for Ferrari with Valtteri Bottas was sixth in the second Mercedes after an earlier spin.

Carlos Sainz was the only driver to use slick tyres for the start, and although he spun and brushed a barrier, his strategy paid off and he claimed a fine seventh place for Toro Rosso.

Eighth was Kevin Magnussen in his best drive for Haas to date, followed by the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon for the final points places.

Next race is the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 16.