A Red Bull strategy gamble sent Daniel Ricciardo on his way to victory in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix as the Australian Formula 1 driver charged from sixth place with 20 laps to go to grab the race win.

A mid-race Safety Car gave Red Bull the chance to roll the dice with both Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen, pitting both drivers for a second time to give them fresher tyres than the rival Mercedes and Ferrari drivers, all of whom stayed out.

It was a decision that would cost early leaders Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel their chance to win, with a spectacular charge from Ricciardo allowing him to take victory for Red Bull, bouncing back from a tough Saturday that saw him almost start last on the grid.

Starting from pole, Vettel was able to hold on to the lead of the race at the start for Ferrari, but quickly came under pressure from Bottas after the Mercedes driver was able to leapfrog Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap to take second. Raikkonen also slipped behind the fast-starting Max Verstappen, as did Lewis Hamilton, who found himself fifth at the end of the first lap.

Vettel managed to pull out of DRS range and hold his lead at around three seconds through the opening stint of the race ahead of Bottas on the Soft compound tyre. Running on Ultrasofts, Verstappen was unable to keep up with the leading duo, with Red Bull trying to find the undercut by pitting the Dutchman first at the end of Lap 17.

Now running on the Medium compound tyre, Verstappen quickly lit up the timesheets, forcing Mercedes to bring Bottas in two laps later for fear of losing the position. Mercedes mirrored Red Bull’s strategy by fitting the Finn with a set of Mediums, having done the same with Hamilton a handful of laps earlier.

Even with the fresh rubber offering an advantage of more than one second per lap, Ferrari did not react immediately with Vettel at the front, instead waiting until Lap 20 to bring the race leader in. A smooth stop was not enough to retain the advantage on-track, though, as Vettel peeled out of the pit lane just behind Bottas.

Ferrari was left scrambling to try and keep Vettel in touching distance of Bottas at the front. The team opted to sacrifice Raikkonen's race to try and get back ahead, keeping Vettel’s teammate out in a bid to back Bottas up. Bottas was able to make light work of Raikkonen with a slick pass around the outside of Turn 1, with Vettel soon following through, albeit still unable to get back ahead of the Mercedes driver.

With Bottas and Vettel separated by around a second at the front, the battle for victory looked poised to rumble to the end of the race, only for a clash between the Toro Rosso drivers to turn the race on its head. An opportunistic lunge by Pierre Gasly on teammate Brendon Hartley at Turn 14 resulted in contact and a spin, as well as leaving debris through the corner that prompted the stewards to call for a Safety Car.

As Vettel and Bottas stayed out, Red Bull pulled some strategic magic by bringing both Verstappen and teammate Ricciardo - who had been running fifth when the Safety Car was called - into the pits immediately, fitting the pair with Soft tyres. The double-stack allowed Hamilton to move back up to third and Raikkonen to take fifth from Ricciardo, but as all of the other leaders stayed out, the Red Bulls looked in good shape for the restart.

The race returned to green on Lap 36 with Bottas leading the field away, but both Red Bulls were quickly up to speed on their fresher, softer tyres. While Ricciardo was able to ease past Raikkonen, Verstappen was forced to pull out of a brave move around the outside of Hamilton through Turn 7, causing him to go off-track and allow his teammate up to fourth.

Ricciardo quickly succeeded where his teammate had failed, coming from a long way back to dive past Hamilton into Turn 14. The Australian picked off Vettel thanks to DRS on the back straight to take second, leaving only Bottas on his radar.

Having seen his win hopes disappear, Vettel’s race went from bad to worse a few laps later when Verstappen tried an overzealous move into Turn 14, causing the Ferrari driver to spin. Verstappen was slapped with a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision, but Vettel was dropping back from the Red Bull driver after a greater rate of knots, having also lost places to Raikkonen, Hamilton and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

While Ricciardo’s moves to rise to second had been spectacular, the Red Bull driver left the best until last. With 12 laps to go, Ricciardo made a brave pass on Bottas heading into Turn 6, forcing the Mercedes driver to yield the position. Red Bull’s strategy magic had been woven, with Ricciardo quickly firing off into the distance.

With 56 laps in the books, Ricciardo crossed the line 8.8 seconds clear to record his sixth F1 race win and open Red Bull’s account for the season with a famous victory in Shanghai.

The battle for second went to the very end as Bottas and Raikkonen went wheel-to-wheel in the final few laps, only for the Mercedes driver to finish seven-tenths of a second clear for P2. Raikkonen was left to settle for third, finishing just ahead of Verstappen on-track, with the Dutchman dropping to fifth after his time penalty was applied.

Lewis Hamilton ended a somewhat quiet race in fourth for Mercedes after Verstappen's penalty, but was able to close the gap on Vettel at the top of the drivers' championship as the Ferrari driver dropped through the field in the final few laps. Nico Hulkenberg was able to take sixth for Renault, while Fernando Alonso barged past Vettel with two laps to go for seventh, frustrating the Ferrari driver who had to settle for P8 at the chequered flag.

Carlos Sainz Jr. gave Renault a double-points finish by finishing ninth ahead of Haas' Kevin Magnussen, who completed the points in P10.

Force India failed to finish in the points for second time in three races as Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez took 11th and 12th respectively, leading home McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne. Williams' Lance Stroll took 14th after making up six places on the opening lap, with teammate Sergey Sirotkin slotting in behind in P15 as the team's wait for its first points of the year continued.

Sauber's Marcus Ericsson finished 16th ahead of Romain Grosjean in the second Haas, while Gasly wound up 18th after the clash with Hartley, with the latter ultimately retiring from the race. Charles Leclerc was the last classified finisher in 19th for Sauber.

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