Daniel Ricciardo won the Chinese Grand Prix after championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen collided during a thrilling race.

Ricciardo started from sixth place, taking advantage of an excellent pit stop strategy to chase his rivals, hauling in Lewis Hamilton, Valterri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel with amazing manoeuvres under brakes.

Valtteri Bottas aiming for victory after Ferrari made an error which allowed Bottas to move ahead of Vettel during their pit stop.

The race shifted when the safety car was deployed following a collision between the Toro Rosso pair of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly on the 31st lap.

Ricciardo and Verstappen diverted to the pits to strap on fresh tires which paid off for Ricciardo as he passed Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Vettel and finally Bottas for a big win.

Verstappen, who was ahead of Ricciardo, ruined his chance of victory, when he ran off road while attempting to make his way past Hamilton and then later struck Vettel.

The collision caused Vettel to finish in eighth place which allowed Hamilton to reach fourth after Verstappen received a 10-second penalty.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso overtook Vettel for seventh place on the penultimate lap.

"I don't seem to win boring races," Ricciardo said after claiming victory. "That was unexpected. It was hectic. I heard the safety car call a turn 14 and they said we are going to stop. It happened very quickly, but it was a decisive, winning move.”

Max Verstappen became Formula One’s youngest ever race winner with victory in an enthralling Spanish Grand Prix that saw Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg collide at the start.

Making his debut for Red Bull Racing, Verstappen took the lead midway through the race and remained icy cool in the closing stage as he came under intense pressure from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. He crossed the line just 0.6s ahead of the Finn to win aged just 18 years and 227 days, breaking Sebastian Vettel’s seven-year-old record, set when the four-time champion was 21 years old.

At the start pole position man Lewis Hamilton made a poor getaway and was passed by team-mate Nico Rosberg. Attempting fight back, Hamilton closed rapidly on his rival as they exited Turn 3 and went to dive down the inside of Rosberg’s car. However, the championship leader was already moving onto the racing line, with the result that Hamilton went onto the grass. He lost control and spun into the back of Rosberg’s car. Both Mercedes were pitched into into the Turn Four gravel trap and out of the race.

The collision meant that third-on-the-grid Daniel Ricciardo seized the race lead ahead of Max Verstappen, making his Red Bull Racing debut. Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, took third place, with the Toro Rosso driver surging through from P8 at the start as the Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen slipped back.

Behind Sainz, however, were the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen and by lap 10 both had cleared the Spaniard to begin a fascinating race-long battle with the Red Bulls. The first stint saw Riccirado hold his lead. The Australian eventually pitted on lap 11 to abandon his starting soft tyres for a set of medium tyres. Verstappen was then brought in a lap later for a set of medium tyres. The Dutch driver was joined in pit lane by Raikkonen, who would shadow the youngster throughout.

Vettel though stayed on track, seeking to maintain pace in the hope of gaining an advantage in the next phase of the race. The Ferrari driver eventually headed for the pit lane on lap 15 and like those around him he also took on medium tyres. It was the second stint that shaped the race result. By lap 25 the gaps at the front were closing as Ricciardo encountered traffic and Vettel’s newer tyres began to give him an advantage.

With the gaps between the main protagonists hovering around the one-second mark, Ricciardo pitted again on lap 28, taking on a set of soft compound tyres. Ferrari immediately responded, bringing Vettel in on the next lap for the same compound. Verstappen and Raikkonen continued to circulate, however, with Verstappen soon becoming the youngest driver to ever lead a grand prix.

On soft tyres, Ricciardo and Vettel would need to make another pit stop, but as the laps counted down it become increasingly clear that Max and Raikkonen would attempt a two-stop race. Verstappen made his final stop on lap 34 for more mediums and Raikkonen pitted fro the same compound a lap later. It would be the last stop for the pair.

Vettel then made his bid podium glory. Having not had the chance to undercut Ricciardo in the first stint, Ferrari went aggressive with the German’s third stop, pitting the four-time champion after just eight laps on his soft tyres. Ricciardo, meanwhile, nursed his tyres to lap 43, when he also took on another set of medium tyres.

Verstappen now led from Raikkonen, with Vettel third and Ricciardo fourth. Raikkonen piled on the pressure, but Verstappen was flawless across his long final stint. The teenager managed his pace and tyre-life with aplomb and as the race entered its final laps he began to look ever more comfortbale.

It was less so for Vettel. Ricciardo, with new tyres onboard, began to exert pressure and closed right up behind the German. The pressure ended on the penultimate when Ricciardo’s left-rear tyre suddenly deflated. The Australian had a enough time in hand, however, to make a stop for new tyres and hold the position to the flag.

Ahead, however, Verstappen was making history, crossing the line ahead of Raikkone. Vettel was third ahead of Ricciardo, while Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was a lonely fifth. Carlos Sainz drove an excellent race to finish sixth in front of his home fans and the Spaniard finished ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez, Williams Felipe Mass and McLaren’s Jenson Button. The final point on offer went to Daniil Kvyat on his return to Toro Rosso.

2016 Spanish Grand Prix – Race 

  1. Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 66 laps - 1h41m40.017s
  2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.616
  3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +5.581
  4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing +43.950
  5. Valtteri Bottas Williams +45.271
  6. Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +61.395
  7. Sergio Perez Force India +79.358
  8. Felipe Massa Williams +80.707
  9. Jenson Button McLaren +1 lap
  10. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +1 lap
  11. Esteban Gutierrez Haas +1 lap
  12. Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1 lap
  13. Jolyon Palmer Renault +1 lap
  14. Kevin Magnussen Renault +1 lap
  15. Felipe Nasr Sauber +1 lap
  16. Pascal Wehrlein Manor +1 lap
  17. Rio Haryanto Manor DNF
  18. Romain Grosjean Haas DNF
  19. Fernando Alonso McLaren DNF
  20. Nico Hulkenberg Force India DNF
  21. Nico Rosberg Mercedes DNF
  22. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes DNF

The 2016 Formula One World Championship kicks off this weekend with the Australian Grand Prix from the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit

  • Lewis: “There’s still more to come from me”
  • Nico: “I’ve never felt more ready to go”
  • Toto: “We are racers and we love a challenge”
  • Paddy: “We have no definite sense of how we measure up to the competition”

Lewis Hamilton

Testing was just incredible – the best I can remember in my career. The car feels even better than last year’s from both a performance and reliability perspective, which is saying something. It’s all so refined in every area and we can be really proud of what we’ve achieved over the winter.

I was at the factory last week and it was humbling to stand in front of everyone that has worked so hard to get us to this point. I’ve been with this team for four years now and, despite all the success, everyone just keeps raising the bar every season, which is super impressive. I know that the guys and girls will keep pushing for more top results, so it’s up to us drivers to go out there and nail it for them on track. People keep asking me about motivation – but I just have to look at the faces of all those people to know what I’m fighting for.

Together, we’re always searching for perfection. But that target is always shifting and you’re constantly faced with new challenges to reach it. Just as you think you’re close, suddenly you fall further back – like someone dangling a carrot on a piece of string and whipping it away just as you reach for it. It’s tough mentally – but that’s a good thing, as it forces you to be resilient and seek improvement in every area. I know there’s still more to come from me – I think I’ve shown that in the past two years. There certainly needs to be some extra in my tank, as the competition will be stronger than ever this year.

There are a few things that will make it even more challenging for all of us this season, too. The changes to the radio rules will have a big impact. The engineers now can’t give you prompts or reminders that might affect performance during the race, so you have to remember so much more. This even applies to strategy, so when it’s shifting throughout the race you won’t be in the loop. It will be tough – but hopefully it will make for more exciting races.

Now we head to Melbourne and the first to chance to see how all this plays out on track. I can’t wait to get started.

Nico Rosberg

This is always a massively exciting time of year. Testing is important, of course. But what every driver really looks forward to is unleashing a new car flat out for the first time. I’m already itching to get back out there – getting to know our latest Silver Arrow and pushing on, making progress with it.

Limited testing gives everyone a big challenge, as you have to be efficient and make more of that time than anyone else. It’s even tougher when you’re the benchmark, as you need to invent while others can invent and copy. But we’ve done our homework and I think it looks set to be a good year again for us. The level of build quality in the car – how it all fits together and all the little details – is just awesome.

It’s so impressive how the team keeps on pushing, aiming to be better all the time. Of course, we all know that Ferrari are right there with us and maybe some of the others will be up there too, so we have to keep pushing. But it’s good to have that competition. With the team we have I believe we can keep them behind.

I’m really hoping to bring back a couple of wins from the first flyaways to reward everyone at the factories for their hard work. There’s such a positive vibe in the team and everybody gets so excited. I know they’ll be cheering us on at home every weekend, so it’s our responsibility to deliver for them.

I’ve had a great winter and done a few things differently for this year. I’ve never felt more ready to go. It’s going to be a great battle.

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

It seems like we’ve never been away. Although the season starts later than usual, the work has been non-stop over the winter. Under stable regulations you are not looking to re-invent the wheel and you cannot expect huge development jumps. But looking for small, carefully evaluated steps forward in every area is equally challenging. There is always room for progress and we have found some interesting developments. It gives me great pride to see how the team continues to innovate in exciting ways.

Motivation is crucial to performance and you need to set ambitious targets to keep that drive high. These change from year to year. When I first arrived, it was becoming a front running team. Then, it was winning the title. Then, proving to ourselves that it wasn't a one-off. And now, it’s creating sustainable success – building the team and the organisation as a whole. We’re realistic with ourselves. We know we won’t win every race and every Championship. But we want to be up there fighting for it every year and putting on a great show, so that’s the target.

We expect the competition to be tougher than ever this year. Expectations are high, both internally and externally. But Ferrari look confident and there will likely be other teams involved in the battle. Testing is about clocking mileage and understanding the car, so there is no clear order at this point. But if it were to be this way, that’s something we would enjoy. We are racers and we love a challenge. Having an enemy pumps you up for a battle – and having strong competitors motivates us to push even harder.

This is not a sport where you can relax. The minute you start being complacent you lose out, so you have to keep the energy in the system and we are doing this all the time. Likewise, the drivers need to keep raising their game. They are major competition for each other in the same car, which is not always going to be easy to handle. But with others also in the mix, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic evolves. We’ve shown in the past two seasons that there are no team orders – and this does not change.

Formula One is a sport – but it is also entertainment. Controversy, both on and off track, makes headlines. That’s not a bad thing – it’s part of the world we live in. But we can think about that later. For now, I can’t wait for the flag to drop in Melbourne: let battle commence.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

Firstly, congratulations to the team at Brackley and Brixworth on an incredible achievement in the delivery of this car. We saw an unprecedented level of reliability during pre-season testing, with over six thousand kilometers completed. That’s almost the same mileage in eight days as we achieved across twelve days last year, demonstrating clear progress in our ability to prepare for a new season. However, it’s still early days, and there are no Championship points for testing.

What’s equally pleasing is to see evidence of continuous innovation. Innovation drives us forward – and it’s clear to see on our car that nobody in the team is resting on their laurels. But while we were pleased with our performance in Barcelona, we have no definite sense of how we measure up relative to the competition. This creates tension – but mainly excitement to see where we stand.

The first qualifying session of the year is, for me, the most exciting hour of the whole Formula One calendar. This is where you get your final exam marks for all the hard work over the many months needed to put together a new car. It’s the first time we see all of the cars and drivers on the limit – gloves off, flat out. Once you get through qualifying and see where you stand, good or bad, a lot of that winter tension is relieved and translated into plans for the future. Whether it’s maintaining a gap or closing on a target ahead, the objective becomes clear.

After an intense winter, the team enjoys arriving in Melbourne. There is a great buzz as the paddock gets back to work, with new kit, some new faces and this year even a new team. We also have some significant new sporting regulations concerning tyre compound choices, driver communications in the race and qualifying format. Put together I am expecting these changes to create far more variation, uncertainty and excitement for the fans, while testing even further the ability of Nico, Lewis and the race team to perform under pressure. We're looking forward to it!

  • Lewis took his third Italian Grand Prix victory and seventh of the season
  • The result marks his 40th career win on his 160th Grand Prix start
  • Nico was forced to retire just three laps from the flag with a mechanical failure of his Power Unit
  • The Power Unit in question was being run for a sixth race weekend. The root cause of the failure will be diagnosed at Brixworth.
  • Both Lewis and Nico ran a one stop strategy of option / prime
  • MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS now lead Ferrari by 181 points in the Constructors' Championship
  • Lewis now leads the Drivers' Championship by 53 points from Nico

Driver

Chassis No.

Grid

Result

Fastest Lap

Lewis Hamilton

F1 W06 Hybrid/05

P1

P1

1:26.672

Nico Rosberg

F1 W06 Hybrid/01

P4

P17

1:27.067

Strategy

Start

Stop 1

No. 44

Soft (Used)

Medium (New)

No. 6

Soft (used)

Medium (New)

Weather

Warm, clear

 

Temperatures

Air: 22 – 24°C

Track: 38 – 40°C

Lewis Hamilton

This weekend has been just fantastic.This race is so special for every driver. When you stand up on that podium it's so emotional. It's a really proud moment to be up there in front of that sea of fans and to walk in the footsteps of so many great drivers who have won here. The start was pretty close, holding off Sebastian. But from there I felt in control. The balance wasn't perfect for qualifying but it was one of the best I've had in the race.

Nico Rosberg

This weekend was very tough for me. There were just too many problems with my car which made it impossible to fight for the win. Today was a massive step in the wrong direction for me in the Championship – but to complain doesn’t help in these situations. I just need to keep pushing and come back even stronger. Giving up is not an option for me.

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

A bittersweet day for us all with a fantastic win for Lewis but a DNF for Nico after he had climbed back through the field. The pattern was set at the start, when Lewis retained the lead but Nico suffered a bad start. Lewis was able to build a good gap to Vettel, drove a flawless race and thoroughly deserved his victory. The result leaves him in a very strong championship position with seven races to go.

Overall, this has been an extremely challenging race but after so many ups and downs, it's very satisfying to come away with a strong win. However, like we always say, small details decide between success and failure, and we had more evidence this weekend of how hard we must keep pushing to maintain our level of performance in every single race. We have a fantastic team and they have done a great job this season, both at the track and in the factories. Now we need to get our heads down, fix our problems and keep moving forward.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

Congratulations first and foremost to Lewis on a fantastic win. It was a superbly controlled drive. But, at the same time, our apologies must go to Nico. We will learn a lot of lessons from this weekend to take into the coming races.

  • Lewis took his second Belgian Grand Prix win, the 39th of his F1 career and sixth of 2015
  • Nico completed a seventh Silver Arrows 1-2 of the season with his 36th career F1 podium finish
  • An 80th career F1 podium for Lewis sees him move level with Ayrton Senna in P4 in the all-time standings
  • Both Lewis and Nico ran a two stop strategy of option / prime / option
  • MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS now lead Ferrari by 184 points in the Constructors' Championship
  • Lewis now leads the Drivers' Championship by 28 points from Nico

Driver

Chassis No.

Grid

Result

Fastest Lap

Lewis Hamilton

F1 W06 Hybrid/05

P1

P1

1:52.504

Nico Rosberg

F1 W06 Hybrid/01

P2

P2

1:52.416

Strategy

Start

Stop 1

Stop 2

No. 44

Soft

Medium (13)

Soft (30)

No. 6

Soft

Medium (12)

Soft (31)

Weather

Clear, warm

Temperatures

Air: 24 – 25°C

Track: 34 – 39°C

Lewis Hamilton

I'm really happy with that one. I had great pace in the car and the balance felt fantastic. If anything it got better through the race and I never felt under pressure. A massive thank you to everyone here and back at the factories for all their hard work. The car was awesome all weekend and the crew did a great job. Thanks to all of you for your support and hope to see you again at Monza!

Nico Rosberg

Unfortunately I messed up the start. Maybe the extra warm up lap had an influence on that - we need to find out what exactly happened but, in any case, I definitely have to improve that for Monza. I managed to be second again and also was able to close the gap to Lewis a bit - but I didn't get a chance to come within overtaking distance. The car they gave us was awesome here, so thank you to them for that. Hopefully we can have the same level of performance in the next races. 

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

I'm very proud of the team after today's result - and especially to get a 1-2 finish at Spa, which is such a difficult and demanding circuit to master. Lewis did a perfect job - he got off the line well, defended cleanly his position from Perez up the hill and then drove a beautifully controlled race. Nico obviously was hampered after his start, which we need to analyse, but then worked his way calmly back through the field. Congratulations to our boys, too, on four clean and impressive stops; they're doing a stunning job in the pits this year and we aim to continue that way for the remaining races. We will savour this win but need to keep our heads down and carry on working hard for Monza."

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)

We’re all very happy indeed with that result and a fantastic performance all round from the team. It’s always great to win at one of the legendary circuits on the Formula One calendar and this was one which Mercedes hadn’t conquered in the modern Silver Arrows era, so it’s good to be able to tick it off the list. It was a quite amazing weekend from Lewis – from an incredible pair of laps in qualifying to a controlled drive to victory in the race. Nico, too, had a very strong weekend. Of course, I’m sure he’ll be disappointed to finish second – but he was in touching distance throughout.

The Rhein Zeitung newspaper quoted Bernie Ecclestone as saying "I'm as sad as the fans that there will be no Formula One race in Germany." The F1 supremo explained the likely demise of the event by saying that "as the attendance has been so low for the last few years, it is not commercially viable for the promoters in Germany".

Lauda, the legendary triple world champion and now team chairman at reigning champions Mercedes, commented: "I hope this is all just sabre-rattling. "For Germany and for Mercedes, it would be a disaster if there is no German race," he told Sport Bild. Lauda said he cannot understand why F1 is no longer viable in Germany. "The organisers in Germany have to pull themselves together," he insisted.

"We have Rosberg in a Mercedes and Vettel in a Ferrari - what more can Formula One possibly offer? "There must be a way to make it a profitable event," Lauda added.