SHANGHAI • Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo believes his surprise Chinese Grand Prix win is proof that he can become a Formula One champion.
Just a day after engine trouble nearly cost him a shot at qualifying in Shanghai, the Australian carved his way through the field from sixth place to storm to victory.
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas finished second while Kimi Raikkonen was third in a Ferrari.
"It's a fun way to win for sure," Ricciardo told Sky F1 after taking the lead in less than 20 laps, pulling off overtaking manoeuvres on the likes of reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, Raikkonen and Bottas.
"I really feel like, just give me a chance to be in a title hunt and I really believe I'll take it. I feel I can capitalise on opportunities and I guess today was a good example."
All six of his wins have come after he started from fourth or lower.
Mercedes' world champion Lewis Hamilton finished in the points for a record 28th successive race.
CHINESE GRAND PRIX
1 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1hr 35min 35.980sec
2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes +8.894sec
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari +9.637
4 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes +16.985
5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull +20.436
6 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault +21.052
7 Fernando Alonso (Esp) McLaren +30.639
8 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari +35.286
9 Carlos Sainz Jr (Esp) Renault +35.763
10 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas +39.594
OVERALL STANDINGS - DRIVERS
1 Vettel 54pts
2 Hamilton 45
3 Bottas 40
4 Ricciardo 37
5 Raikkonen 30
6 Alonso 22
1 Mercedes 85pts
2 Ferrari 84
3 Red Bull 55
4 McLaren 28
5 Renault 25
"I don't seem to win boring races. They're all pretty fun," added the 28-year-old, who took on fresh tyres under a safety car yesterday.
He was also quick to praise his mechanics on Saturday. He made it into qualifying with only about a minute to spare after a blown engine in the final free practice.
"Twenty-four hours ago I thought we might be starting at the back of the grid. So, firstly thanks to the boys yesterday," he said. "Today is the real reward for that work."
Championship leader and pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel led until the first set of tyre stops before dropping back to finish eighth after a collision with Red Bull's Max Verstappen. The Dutchman was penalised 10 seconds for hitting the Ferrari.
Mercedes' Hamilton missed out on the podium for the first time this season, crossing the line fifth behind Verstappen. He was promoted to fourth after the Red Bull driver's penalty was applied.
"Saturday and Sunday felt like a disaster from my side," the Briton said, despite setting a record of 28 successive scoring finishes.
"It is clear from this weekend we are not the quickest. We have lost performance since Melbourne and maybe even more so this weekend.
"We are the second-or third-fastest team at the moment, so we have some improving to do, but that's not impossible."
Red Bull's win adds a fresh wrinkle to a season in which Ferrari had surged out in front, with Vettel stunning Hamilton and Mercedes by taking the first two races of the season.
For Ricciardo, he finally had reason to celebrate after he just missed a podium spot at home in Australia following a grid penalty, and had to retire in Bahrain due to mechanical problems.
"This sport's crazy. A week ago, I had my head down after two laps. Frustrated at the sport, frustrated at all the variables involved in the sport," Ricciardo said. "But then when you have a day like this and it's worth 50 of those bad ones."
Vettel experienced one such bad race yesterday. The German had seemed headed for the podium in third on Lap 43 when Verstappen clipped him on Turn 14, sending them both spinning and several places down the race order.
It was the second straight weekend in which the hard-driving Verstappen was involved in a collision.
He and Hamilton had a run-in in Bahrain, after which the Englishman was overheard lobbing an expletive at the young Dutchman.
Verstappen accepted blame for his latest collision but again rejected a suggestion that he might need to calm down his driving style.
"I could see him struggling on the tyres and tried to brake late into the corner and locked the rears a bit and hit him, so that was of course my fault," the 20-year-old said.
"It's easy to say afterwards I should have waited, it probably would have been the best idea but unfortunately it happened."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS