Sebastian Vettel's strange gambit at the Chinese Grand Prix

SEBASTIAN Vettel found himself under investigation at the Chinese Grand Prix before he'd even hit the accelerator.

The Ferrari driver had fans and commentators scratching their heads when he lined up on the front row of the grid alongside Lewis Hamilton after the formation lap. His car was the only one not parked between the white lines designating where drivers should start.

It was a strange beginning to the second race of the year but Vettel - who finished second behind Hamilton - was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner has called for clarity on how drivers can position themselves before the lights go out and in the process, revealed why the German was keen to get outside his grid box.

On a gloomy day in Shanghai with damp conditions, Vettel wanted to avoid starting his tyres on the slippery white lines to ensure he got the best possible start.

"I think the one thing that would be nice to come out of it is ... because it was obvious what he (Vettel) was trying to do - get to the drier part of the track which you can understand - but it would be good to have clarity of does a driver have to start in his grid box or not," Horner said.

"Is it just a line or is it a box? I remember it being discussed, but he got no advantage from it. It would just be good to have clarity."

Vettel took a liberal approach to his positioning.
Vettel took a liberal approach to his positioning. Twitter

IS RICCIARDO SMARTER THAN WE THINK?

Daniel Ricciardo isn't just a gun F1 driver, he's also a pretty handy table tennis player.

Before the Chinese Grand Prix he spent some time with paddle in hand, stepping up to have a hit with his fellow competitors and Olympic gold medallist Wang Liqin.

But his knowledge of the game may go much deeper than just how to hit the perfect forehand. The 27-year-old posted a photo on his Instagram account of the moment Sebastian Vettel overtook him in Shanghai, the pair banging wheels before the Ferrari star eventually got past.

"You can always expect some of this when us two cross tarmac. Truth, I do enjoy this very much," the caption read.

Ricciardo put the location of the photo as "Ping Pong Diplomacy", a political term coined in the 1970s to describe the process that led to a cooling of tensions between the People's Republic of China and America.

In 1971 China invited the US table tennis team to visit, becoming the first American delegation to go to Beijing since the Republic formed in 1949. Prior to that, even politicians were refused entry to the capital.

The extension of Chinese goodwill towards America via sport paved the way for then-president Richard Nixon to become the first US leader to visit the Republic in 1972, an historic moment in Chinese-American relations.

Now, when it comes to Ricciardo and Vettel, we're not sure who's China and who's America. But if the West Australian is clever enough to pop references to 1970s foreign politics into his gags, then he's a heck of a lot smarter than people may have thought.

'FIRST PROPER RACE FOR THE YEAR'

After a disastrous home grand prix in Melbourne when he suffered car troubles before and during the race which prevented him from crossing the finish line, Ricciardo was just happy to get some points in China.

He was as high as second for a brief period before Vettel and teammate Max Verstappen overtook him, and he only

just missed out on third following a tense duel with the Dutchman in the final laps.

"That was what I felt was my first proper race of the year," Ricciardo said of the race in a video blog. "In Melbourne I didn't really race, didn't get the full experience.

"China was alright ... I wasn't stoked with the result but (I'll) definitely take something from it for sure and it wasn't a disaster by any means.

"Hopefully the races continue to be more exciting like they were in China."

The next grand prix is in Bahrain on Sunday.

News Corp Australia

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