Early setbacks felt like a heavyweight punch - Ricciardo


A puncture on the third lap and subsequent safety car left Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo feeling like he had "been punched in the stomach by a heavyweight" at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Ricciardo darted from second on the grid to move ahead of Nico Rosberg and lead the race on the opening lap, but early collisions further back in the field left debris on the track.

The Australian suffered a left-rear puncture during the third lap and was forced into an early pit stop, with the ensuing safety car period dropping him down to 17th.

However, Ricciardo fought back to salvage fourth place, and, although he lamented the pair of early blows, he was delighted with his race thereafter.

"There was some incidents on the first lap so I saw some debris, but it didn't seem like I caught a big bit or anything, so [the puncture] was pretty unexpected," said the Red Bull driver.

"I guess it was unlucky, and then the safety car put us even further back, so that was a double whammy - it felt like getting punched in the stomach by a heavyweight.

"But from there it was probably the best race of my career. I felt I could have been spraying champagne, but part of me is still smiling because we will get other opportunities."

Ricciardo sits third in the drivers' standings on 36 points, three adrift of world champion Lewis Hamilton.