Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo has praised the team for his Chinese Grand Prix victory after his mechanics completed a late engine change with minutes to spare before Saturday’s qualifying session.
Ricciardo’s win from sixth on the grid followed an turbo failure within the final 30 minutes of the final practice session on Saturday morning. The team had to install a brand-new Renault power unit in the two hours before qualifying.
Performing what team boss Christian Horner described as “miraculous” work to get the car prepared in time to qualify, Ricciardo converted his sixth place on the grid into a win on Sunday.
“That was unexpected,” Ricciardo said of his victory. “If we put ourselves 24 hours ago, I thought we may be starting from the back of the grid.
“Firstly thanks to the boys for yesterday – I thanked them after qualifying but today is the real rewards for that work. The mechanics worked their butts off.”
Red Bull switched to a two-stop strategy in order to take advantage of a mid-race safety car. Ricciardo emerged from the pits in sixth place but with a tyre advantage over the Mercedes’ and Ferrari’s ahead. He climbed to first place in the 10 laps following the restart to secure a sixth career win.
“It was hectic,” he added. “I heard safety car at Turn 14 and that we were going to double stack to come into the box. It happened very quickly but a very decisive winning move from the team.
“Obviously, [the soft tyres were] giving us a good bit of grip on the restart. We didn’t think it would last that long, but the tyres were holding up well and we had a wicked pace on the softs, so that was fun and once I was aware that we had the pace, I wasn’t going to let that slip.”
Ricciardo has never won a race from inside the top three on the grid, with his last victory having been seized during last season’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix in which he started 10th.
“I feel like every win I’ve had it’s been a similar circumstance. [This race] was crazy and a lot of fun.”