Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo comes from third row to win Chinese Grand Prix

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo celebrates with a trophy after winning the Chinese Grand Prix. (Reuters)
Updated 15 April 2018
0

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo comes from third row to win Chinese Grand Prix

  • Australian overtook Bottas on the 45th lap and stayed there
  • Mercedes, the power of the last few seasons, has not won any of the first three races

Shanghai: Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo yanked off his right shoe, poured champagne into it as he stood on the podium, and then drank up to his unlikely victory in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
The Australian started from the third row, but took advantage when the safety car came out on the 31st lap to allow him to get fresh, soft tires when the other leaders were running on worn rubber and couldn’t get in quickly to change.
Ricciardo got quicker and quicker and took the lead on the 45th lap of the 56-lap race, overtaking Valtteri Bottas with a dive on the inside past the Mercedes driver.
“A lot of time you only get one chance, so I make the most of every opportunity,” Ricciardo said. “I don’t seem to win boring races. They all are pretty fun, but that was unexpected.”
Bottas called it a “fair” pass and finished second with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in third.
Ricciardo said he knew he had a great chance with the fresh rubber. And he knew he got a bit lucky.
“That was obviously giving us a good little bit of grip on the restart,” Ricciardo said. “Once I was aware we had the pace, I wasn’t going to let that slip.”
Red Bull’s victory leaves the Formula One season in a scramble after just three races. There’s no clear favorite and plenty of questions.
Mercedes, the power of the last few seasons, has not won any of the first three races with defending champion Lewis Hamilton and Bottas at the wheel. Hamilton finished fourth on Sunday and was never a factor.
Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari won the first two races in Australia and Bahrain, but failed to capitalize on his pole position in China. He led for the first 20 laps but fell back, first due to a pit stop and then after a collision with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the 43rd lap. Vettel finished eighth.
Verstappen, who initially finished fourth, was given a 10-second penalty for another brush with Red Bull’s Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly. Verstappen wound up fifth.
Ferrari’s Vettel still leads the season standings with 54 points after three races.
Hamilton, the four-time and defending champion, improved his season points total to 45. Bottas has 40 points in third place and Ricciardo is fourth with 37.
“Saturday and Sunday felt like a disaster from my side,” Hamilton said. “I just haven’t had the pace since yesterday (Saturday), and I struggled with the car.”
Bottas acknowledged Mercedes still “has work to do.”
“It’s so close between Red Bull, Ferrari and us,” he said. “Just depending on the conditions and whoever gets the tires and the set up right. It’s very close depending on the conditions.”
Bottas said the race “slipped away.”
“We were going pretty well and we were looking strong until the safety car,” he said. “It kind of felt like we deserved a victory, but not today. That is racing. These things happen.”
Nico Hulkenberg of Renault was sixth followed by Fernando Alonso of McLaren. Vettel, Carlos Sainz of Renault and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top 10.
This was Ricciardo’s sixth career win, and his first since a victory a year ago in Azerbaijan, the venue for the next race in two weeks.
What a difference a week makes.
In Bahrain a week ago, Ricciardo and Verstappen were out after the first several laps on a frustrating weekend for Red Bull.
“This sport’s crazy,” he said. “A week ago I was with my head down after two laps; frustrated at the sport, frustrated at all the variables that are involved in the sport. Sometimes I question why I chose this sport. It does get you down a lot. But then you have a day like this it’s worth all those bad ones.”


India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown

Updated 18 September 2018
0

India and Pakistan ready to renew rivalry in Dubai showdown

  • India brace for Pakistan after surviving stern test against minnows Hong Kong
  • Usman Shinwari: Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high

DUBAI: As delirium sweeps the UAE ahead of the mouth-watering encounter between arch rivals India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup, it seems one man — at least outwardly — is not as excited as the rest of the country and cricketing fans the world over.
India captain Rohit Sharma played with a straight bat when asked about the biggest clash in world cricket, set to take place today at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. On his first Asia Cup media outing the 31-year-old seemed unconcerned by the impending showdown with their fiercest opponents, his focus instead on facing Hong Kong, who Sharma and Co. had a big scare against on Tuesday.
“Right now, we are not focusing on Pakistan as (first) we are playing Hong Kong,” Sharma said on Sunday. “Obviously we have to focus on that particular team but once we have finished that game we will focus on Pakistan and what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
These are clearly the words of a man so media trained that by now he could easily be on the other side of the desk, asking the same questions he and his colleagues sometimes enjoy batting back with crafted clichés that speak of focusing on “one game at a time” or the like.
Sharma was clearly right to not take his eyes off the ball with Hong Kong — they are not here to merely make up the numbers, as their brilliant, battling performance on Tuesday illustrated. But at the same time, Sharma will be all too aware that as India skipper the one match you do not want to lead your side to defeat in is the one against Pakistan, regardless of competition and location.
Clearly India are not leaving Pakistan preparations to the 14 hours or so (sleep included) between the close of the Hong Kong clash and the toss prior to resuming Indo-Pak cricketing rivalry. To suggest they are would be naive at best.
A year on from Pakistan’s show-stealing Champions Trophy final victory over the old enemy in June last year, and a whole five years since the two sides met outside of an ICC or ACC event due to strained political relations, the appetite for the first of potentially three matches at this year’s Asia Cup is huge and one borne out of starved hunger.
Pakistan’s Usman Shinwari, fresh off defeating Hong Kong on Sunday, was more candid than Sharma.
“Any player who performs well in an India-Pakistan match will find his career reaches a new high, and every player dreams of doing well in this contest,” the fast bowler said. “I took three wickets (against Hong Kong), I hope that can be five wickets against India.”
Shinwari’s sentiments were echoed by his captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, who is absolutely clear on the levels of expectation that this fixture demands from fans on both sides of the border.
“The passion is always there,” said Sarfraz. “When you play against India everyone wants us to win as it’s against India.
“The fans say that whatever happens you have to win but as a captain I have to win against every team. It would be the same for India whose fans want them to win. It has happened in the past that any player who performs in the Indo-Pak match becomes a national hero.”
UAE cricket fans cannot wait for the clash. It took just a few hours for the first batch of tickets to be snapped up, the second bought in equally ravenous fashion. It has left a huge number of tickets now being touted across online marketplaces, social media platforms and, ultimately, will likely see the inflated resales being pawned outside the stadium on matchday too.
An expected 25,000 fans will swell the Ring of Fire, set to deal not only with cricket’s most fierce rivalry but also with all the unpredictability that will be thrown their way.
The famed traffic jams around Hessa Street, leading up to the stadium, and local entrances of Dubai Sports City will heave and efforts have been made to ease the burden of vehicles that will cart both sets of fans in and out of the area. Gates will open from 12p.m. local time, a whole three and a half hours before the first ball has been bowled. In an emirate where the last-minute rush is a daily fact of life, this will be not be an easy thing to execute but that, alongside the immense presence of volunteers and security, should prove welcome additions to the day’s running order.
This, though, is India vs Pakistan. Anything could happen.