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Thrilling overtaking helps Max climb from 16th on the grid to final podium spot.
The young Dutchman, 19, even challenged eventual race winner Lewis Hamilton early on after overtaking nine cars on a dramatic first lap.
Daniel Ricciardo went wheel to wheel with his teammate late on in an attempt to make the podium but had to settle for fourth.
Rain ensured a wet start to the race and with the safety car twice deployed in the first four laps due to crashes, a host of pit stops occurred with the leaders changing onto the dry tyre.
The stops worked out well for Hamilton, who then managed to comfortably hold off Sebastian Vettel for the remainder of the race.
Both Red Bull Racing cars finished above the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, and a phenominal drive from Carlos Sainz saw him come home seventh. Teammate Daniil Kvyat suffered a hydraulic failure early on and did not finish.
Red Bull Racing
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: 3rd, Start Position: 16th
“That was a very special race. When I woke up this morning I never expected to be on the podium. It was a very good first lap, I passed nine cars I think which is very positive. The conditions really helped me get past the cars as quick as I could, that was important as I knew it would only dry up and get tougher to pass. I always enjoy driving in the wet so I made the most of the fun conditions early on. I think in the first eleven laps I got up to seventh place which set me up for a strong finish. We were a bit unsure of how the balance of the car would be towards the end of the race as I didn’t run much yesterday in Qualifying and the temperature is a lot lower today. We had quite a bit of understeer but just about managed to hold on to third place. These balance issues combined with being within two seconds of another car in the closing stages of the race made it really hard to drive, there were blue flags out but I still couldn’t get past, this needs looking into. The battle with Daniel at the end was hard as my car was not fun to defend in. I’m glad we hung on and obviously it was a great race to watch and for the team. I think on pure pace in the dry we are still a bit slow for a podium but all things considered today we definitely MAXED it out.”
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 5th
“I have mixed emotions, it’s obviously disappointing to miss out on the podium as 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. After the first pit stop I had good balance and speed which meant I could claw some time back and close the gap to the leaders. Towards the end of the race I could see that Max was struggling with his tyres but as soon as I got close to him I also began to struggle with mine. The team let us race but even though I was in the DRS zone I was not really close enough to pull off a convincing move. I had a look but the inside lines were still quite slippery into the hairpin and I was honestly never really close enough to make a move stick. It was also quite noticeable that the DRS effect is far less on the cars this year which didn’t help. 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.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “A great performance by the team today, taking advantage of the slippery conditions at the beginning of the race Max was able to make a great start and had an amazing first lap to come round in seventh and from there both drivers were in great shape. The right strategic calls under the safety car allowed us then to get our cars into second and third ahead of both Ferraris. Great work from the pit crew today. Max then made a fair move on Daniel and looked strong at the point in the race. Daniel held off the Ferraris as long as he could before Sebastian was able to get past. As we’d elected to go with the supersoft tyre for us it always going to be a two-stop race. We then picked the right moment to go on to the supersofts and in the latter part of the race Daniel was happier with his car balance and closed down on Max and some great #racing between the two of them over the last 10 laps provided an exciting finish to the grand prix. To come away third and fourth is a very positive result, and we also achieved our 100th podium as a team. Still plenty to do, but leaving China with 27 points is extremely positive.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso
CARLOS SAINZ, Finish Position: 7th, Start Position: 11th
“WOW! What a race, I just don’t have words to describe it! On the grid I said I wanted to start the race on slick tyres and everyone thought I was completely mad! It sounds like a funny moment now, but when everyone took the blankets off the tyres and my race engineer told me that we were the only ones the supersoft tyre I doubted my decision… When you’re on the grid, about to start a race, and you take a tough decision like today’s, there’s a lot of weight on your shoulders, knowing that you might have blown away a good result for the team… but I then said to myself, c’mon trust yourself, it’s the right thing to do! I knew the start and the first four corners were going to be very tricky – and they certainly were! – but from Turn 6 onwards the track was fully dry and I felt confident – the gamble definitely paid off! But today’s result isn’t only thanks to this decision; it’s also down to the pace that we showed in damp conditions. After the Safety Car, I saw myself catching Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes in front and I got super excited! It was just an incredible race, I felt so comfortable in the car today and to finally cross the line in P7 is a great result – I’d like to thank the team for the whole weekend, we can all be very happy!”
DANIIL KVYAT, Finish Position: DNF, Start position: 9th
“What a shame, we had a hydraulic failure which still needs to be investigated and therefore had to stop the car. Just before that, we were struggling a bit on the Soft tyre and it was a bit hard to keep them up to temperature… So we were an easy target for everyone who was on Supersofts. It wasn’t being the easiest of races, that’s for sure! On the positive side, we’ve shown the performance is there and that we can be strong going forward. We just need to make sure we grab the points when the opportunities arise. In general I’m quite happy, it’s just a shame we had a bit of bad luck today but these things happen and we just have to accept them… it’s part of this sport! We’re working well as a team – and this makes me feel very confident - we have the pace and I look forward to next week’s race weekend in Bahrain where we will come back stronger!”
FRANZ TOST (Team Principal): “We saw a very interesting and exciting race today. First of all, I’d like to congratulate Carlos for his very risky decision – he was the only car with dry tyres on the starting grid! He drove a fantastic race and crossed the line in P7. Without the Safety Cars, I think he would’ve achieved an even better result… he certainly would have deserved it! It was great to see how he was fighting with the front runners. Regarding Daniil, he got off to a very solid start and was also able to fight for positions but unfortunately his car had a hydraulic problem. This is something that must not happen when you want to fight for a good position in the Constructors’ Championship. Nevertheless, we have a competitive package and I’m positive that we can also score many points in the next races - this is what we will go for with big determination.”
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