Ric­cia­rdo wins podium place


Joondalup Times - - SPORT - Bill Buys

RED Bull Re­nault scored a long over­due third win of the sea­son with Max Ver­stap­pen tak­ing a dom­i­nat­ing win in the Malaysian Grand Prix and Aus­tralian team­mate Daniel Ric­cia­rdo also on the podium – in third place – be­hind cham­pi­onship leader Lewis Hamil­ton’s Mercedes.

The grand prix, run in 39C heat, was a nail­biter from start to fin­ish.

Fer­rari’s Kimi Raikko­nen, who qual­i­fied sec­ond, did not even start the race after re­port­ing a prob­lem on the warm-up lap, while team­mate Se­bastien Vet­tel started from the back of the grid after turbo trou­ble stopped his qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion.

But he scythed through the field in buc­ca­neer style, pass­ing 16 cars to claim fourth – and very nearly third – at the end of the 56lap race on the Sepang cir­cuit.

Vet­tel, run­ning on su­per-soft tyres in the clos­ing laps, was catch­ing Ric­cia­rdo’s soft-tyred Red Bull by a sec­ond a lap, but the Perth driver de­fended brilliantly and Fer­rari in­structed Vet­tel to back off for fear of blow­ing his over­heated en­gine.

“I think you've bro­ken Vet­tel's spirit,” Ric­cia­rdo was told over the team radio. “Nice job.”

Al­though he fin­ished fourth, Vet­tel ac­tu­ally ar­rived back in the pits sit­ting on the side­pod of Pas­cal Werhlein’s Sauber. His Fer­rari and Lance Stroll’s Wil­liams col­lided on the cool­ing­down lap, leav­ing the Fer­rari on three wheels. Each blamed the other. “Stroll wasn’t look­ing where he was go­ing. He com­pletely shunted into my car,” Vet­tel shouted.

“Vet­tel just drove into the side of me,” Stroll told his team.

Race stew­ards de­clined to blame ei­ther.

At the start, Hamil­ton led into Turn 1, but it soon be­came clear the Mercs could not match the paced of the Red Bulls.

Ver­stap­pen got past Hamil­ton on lap 4 and Ric­cia­rdo despatched Valt­teri Bot­tas a few laps later, then started stalk­ing Hamil­ton.

Ver­stap­pen, who turned 20 on Satur­day, was un­chal­lenged and ended up fin­ish­ing 12.7sec in front of Hamil­ton.

“In the be­gin­ning, the car felt good and I saw Lewis was strug­gling a bit,” Ver­stap­pen said.

“He had more to lose than me in terms of the cham­pi­onship. It's a very tough race and it was in­cred­i­ble to win.”

The Dutch­man had a lot of bad luck with car prob­lems and crashes ear­lier in the sea­son and failed to fin­ish in more than half of his events.

Ric­cia­rdo was happy with his per­for­mance, fin­ish­ing 15 sec­onds ahead of Vet­tel.

“Seb (Vet­tel) came at me very quickly and I thought I’d have a hand­ful,” he said.

“But he only made one at­tack, then he backed off.”

There was some great rac­ing fur­ther back, with cut-and-thrust bat­tles be­tween Force In­dia, McLaren-Honda and the Wil­liams.

Be­hind the lead­ing quar­tet came Bot­tas in the Mercedes, ahead of Ser­gio Perez (Force In­dia) with young Bel­gian Stof­fel van Doorne 7th for McLaren.

Eighth and ninth were the Wil­liams of Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa, with Force In­dia’s Este­ban Ocon claim­ing 10th for Force In­dia.

Pic­ture: Lars Baron/Getty Im­ages

Daniel Ric­cia­rdo and Max Ver­stap­pen cel­e­brate a dou­ble podium for Red Bull.

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