Daniel Ricciardo Beats Out Hamilton for F1 World Championship

Photo Max Verstappen came out of the gates quickly in China this year and never looked back. The young driver took pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix and seemed to be following it…

Daniel Ricciardo Beats Out Hamilton for F1 World Championship

Photo

Max Verstappen came out of the gates quickly in China this year and never looked back. The young driver took pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix and seemed to be following it up with victories in Bahrain and Malaysia. But the young Dutchman was forced to retire from the race in Malaysia, handing the championship lead to Lewis Hamilton.

Despite winning the first two races, Hamilton came in third in China, his points deficit to Verstappen now 17 points. That said, it is a 5-second gap. As a result, Verstappen must now win the remaining races in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and France in order to overtake Hamilton for the championship.

In qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Hamilton faced a qualifier opponent he had never seen before: the Red Bull Racing teenager, Daniel Ricciardo. After some brief testing, it was clear that Ricciardo had come prepared for his first F1 race under the lights in Abu Dhabi.

The 20-year-old from Perth easily outpaced Hamilton, who in turn was easily bested by Verstappen on a cloudless night in Abu Dhabi. Verstappen’s lap pace was far superior to Hamilton’s at the first break in qualifying, setting up the exciting race for the checkered flag. Verstappen out-ran Hamilton and won the race, giving his Red Bull Racing team the victory and Hamilton only a third place finish, less than a second behind.

Ricciardo came in a very strong third, winning the race and also the title of 2019 F1 World Champion. But the Australian was quick to praise Verstappen for his performance.

“I don’t think anyone else, quite frankly, that was faster than us,” Ricciardo said. “Max Verstappen was faster than us. Lewis was as well. Unfortunately, Max did his lap slightly before us. And he deserved to win.”

While questions about Red Bull Racing remained going into the season, Ricciardo had demonstrated a greater ability at the weekend to take advantage of the heat of the competition.

As Verstappen’s world title celebration continued after he picked up his first win of the season, Ricciardo commented: “I was just happy to survive. It wasn’t my easiest day.”

Last year was a very tough season for Red Bull Racing. They had only won two races in 2016 and only three in 2017.

They were relegated to 10th place in the overall constructors standings.

At the start of this season, however, Red Bull Racing pulled out all the stops to bring new engines and upgrades to their F1 race cars to give the team a fighting chance in this year’s championship.

On top of this, they went well above the top teams to hire Ricciardo, who was competing for Red Bull’s main rival, Ferrari.

But the penalties taken by these changes actually proved very expensive for Red Bull Racing. They dropped some points in Abu Dhabi, as drivers may race with only 10 kilograms of fuel instead of the usual 13. Nevertheless, they were able to fight back, and their performance certainly gave Hamilton an eyeful.

Verstappen posted an Instagram post of his win and said: “It’s been a long time coming.”

“It’s a team effort from a lot of hard work. We started the season off fighting against ourselves. We had to make a lot of changes and regroup. We fight as a team.”

He then added, “We are going to focus on winning races and getting into title contention again.”

The big question now is whether Verstappen will win again?

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