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Daniel Ricciardo celebrates after the Chinese Grand Prix.

The smile was broader than ever as Daniel Ricciardo savoured a surprise Chinese Grand Prix victory in his own inimitable fashion on Sunday.

After the safety auto was deployed on Lap 31 when the two Toro Rossos collided the Red Bulls pitted straight away to go onto the softs, having earlier moved to mediums, and in the latter stages of the race that proved to be the difference.

The Chinese Grand Prix looked like it was going to be a replay of the first two Grands Prix of the 2018 season as Sebastian Vettel took the lead from pole, Bottas put his Mercedes in front of Raikkonen and Verstappen on the ball passing both Hamilton and then Raikkonen to sit in third.

"Holy Testicle Tuesday", the 28-year-old exclaimed when asked what his reaction would have been had someone suggested in winter testing that Red Bull would win a race before champions Mercedes this season.

Ricciardo's teammate Max Verstappen also chose to pit at the same time, but two errors cost him his chances.

The result tightens up the drivers' championship, with Vettel's lead narrowed to nine points over Hamilton, 54 to 45, with Bottas just five back on 40 and Ricciardo - who also set the fastest lap and picked up the Driver of the Day Award - leaping up to fourth on 37.

Frustrating results for the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly who took 18th position and Bredan Hartley who DNF after the teammates had a mild collision.

Bottas and Vettelsoon closed on Raikkonen, who had not yet pitted and now led the race, with Ferrari seemingly hoping the Finn would help back Bottas into Vettel.

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And after an investigation from the FAI, the Rouen native received a 10-second penalty for causing the collision in the hairpin turn. It took a few minutes for the marshals to put out a safety vehicle period, in which both Ricciardo and his Red Bull teammate, Max Verstappen, dived into the pits at the same time.

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton crossed the line fifth behind Verstappen but was promoted to fourth after the Dutchman's penalty was applied.

"We were going pretty well and we were looking strong until the safety auto", he said.

The German said he was anticipating an attack on lap 43 and left a little room on the inside in case Verstappen misjudged the corner "but obviously he misjudged more than I thought".

Red Bull could still be in the market to renew the Australian's deal but he remains relaxed about a likely increase in demand for his services. He had a tyre advantage, yes, but he made a series of brilliant overtaking moves, and gave Verstappen a lesson in how to balance aggression with judgementWhat happens next? Yesterday and today was a disaster on my side.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz was ninth for Renault with Kevin Magnussen rounding out the top 10 for Haas. Raikkonen took a few good looks but ultimately was just under 0.8 seconds behind Bottas at the finish with Verstappen another 0.8 seconds behind him on the road.

Behind him, Renault's Nico Hulkenberg drove a solid race for sixth, ahead of Alonso and an angry Vettel.

"It does get you down a lot".