Daniel Ricciardo may have had an up and down 2018, finishing with eight DNFs and announcing a team change for 2019, but the Australian driver still managed to secure two spectatcular wins throughout the season.
The first win came at the Chinese Grand Prix, when Ricciardo put on an overtaking masterclass. Starting from sixth on the grid, such a high finish was not on the cards for Ricciardo, with Max Verstappen looking the Red Bull Racing driver more likely to make a push for the top step of the podium.
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 14, 2018
Through the mistakes of Toro Rosso teammates Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, who clashed and left debris strewn all over the circuit, Red Bull Racing capatalised on a chance to pit both drivers, giving Ricciardo a sniff on a brand new set of soft tyres.
Kimi Raikkonen was passed on Lap 37 with what looked to be the move of the race, but Ricciardo was barely getting started. Verstappen's off-track tour after coming close to touching Lewis Hamilton helped promote the Australian to fourth, and he then nailed Hamilton with a pass that was late on the brakes even by his standards.
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 15, 2018
Sebastian Vettel was his next victim on the back straight on Lap 42, and three laps later, he dived underneath Valtteri Bottas for the lead at Turn 4.
Ricciardo completed a dominate drive to win by over eight seconds, and even set the fastest lap of the race two laps from home.
"I don't seem to win boring races," Ricciardo laughed, speaking with Red Bull Racing, that all six of his F1® victories coming from outside the top three on the grid.
"I have lots of emotions," he added.
"On the in-lap I was just smiling and I didn't have many words, then on the podium I was nearly in tears."
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 15, 2018
Ricciardo’s second win of the season was in Monaco, where he overcame a mechanical problem to hold off Sebastian Vettel and win the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time in his career amid late drama.
The Australian suffered an issue that led to an irreparable loss of power on Lap 28, but he showed incredible skill and grit to hang on to the lead, despite a Virtual Safety Car being deployed with six laps remaining.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 27, 2018
Vettel backed off after initially pushing for an overtake and he was unable to succeed on deteriorated tyres later in the race, settling for second.
A botched pit stop denied Ricciardo a win at the same circuit in 2016, while a poorly judged release during qualifying ruined his shot at pole position last year.
It looked like nothing could stop him this time around, though, as he produced the fastest time in all three practices sessions and qualified first with a track-record time, as Mercedes and Ferrari seemingly resigned themselves to being beaten on this weekend.
We have a new track record at Monaco@danielricciardo has become the first driver to record a lap in the 1m 11s around these iconic streets
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 25, 2018
Red Bull reacted brilliantly to Vettel's first stop by getting Ricciardo in for fresh tyres and back out in first place at the start of Lap 17, only for a loss of power in the RB14 threw a spanner in the works.
But the Australian was able to manage his ultrasoft compound until the end of the race, despite Vettel, Hamilton, Raikkonen and Bottas closing - the gap from first to fifth was less than six seconds as the race entered its final third.
A Virtual Safety Car threatened to undo all of Ricciardo's hard work, but it was withdrawn with four laps remaining and the Red Bull driver quickly opened a five-second gap over Vettel after the restart to put himself firmly in the championship frame.
2018 marks the last year with Red Bull Racing for the Australian, who moves to the newly named Renault F1 Team for 2019.