Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner said a “fantastic team effort” helped the team to their first win of the 2018 season at the Chinese Grand Prix – their first since last year’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Red Bull had looked to be a strong third this weekend, qualifying on the third row of the grid behind both Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport. This pace looked to be similar for the race too, when Max Verstappen jumped Lewis Hamilton for fourth into the first corner but struggled to make it any further up the grid. Red Bull’s luck changed on lap thirty-two however, when both sister-team Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda drivers collided, leading to a safety car.
Unlike competitors ahead of them, Red Bull used the opportunity to pit both Verstappen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo for fresh tyres – this being a move that eventually sealed them the race win.
Once the race restarted Ricciardo used his new tyres to full effect, scything his way through the field to take the lead and coming home nearly nine seconds ahead of second place, securing his sixth career win. Verstappen, meanwhile, made an initial mistake when trying to overtake Hamilton, then a second mistake when trying to overtake Sebastian Vettel – spinning both of them and earning a ten-second penalty.
After the race Horner praised Ricciardo’s “exemplary” overtaking manoeuvres and the pit crew’s “amazing job“, and admitted that despite Verstappen’s poor race, things look good for the future.
“To achieve our first victory of the year here in China was the result of a fantastic team effort. A strong strategy and a great performance by the pit crew, who have done an amazing job all weekend particularly with the engine change on Daniel’s car; and Daniel drove an amazing race and fully deserved victory. His passes were exemplary and the strategy really came alive for us under the safety car. We made a late call to get both cars in and again the second double stop was clinically executed and they did an unbelievable job.
“For Max the first part of the race was going very well for him, unfortunately he lost time on the outside of Lewis, dropped behind Daniel, and then, when attempting a pass on Sebastian, he made contact resulting in a 10 second penalty which he has apologised for. He still managed to bring the car home in fifth; it is a result I am sure he will be frustrated with, but performance today bodes well for the coming season. Speaking of a team effort, any win begins with all of the guys and girls back at the factory and the dedication and hard work there, and that allows us to enjoy moments like this.”