Lewis Hamilton drove to a controlled win at the Chinese Grand Prix today, winning his third consecutive Grand Prix and moving himself to within four points of first place in the drivers’ Championship in the process. The Briton had taken a dominant pole position on Saturday and simply rocketed into the lead at race start and stayed there throughout the race.
He was unchallenged off the line and into the first corner as several drivers made contact into the long right hand corner. Felipe Massa was one of the drivers to make contact with another driver after he darted wildly right following a good start and hit Fernandno Alonso’s Ferrari. Remarkably, neither man seemed to incur any major damage in the relatively heavy hit. The other Williams driver, Valtteri Bottas, was also in the wars at the start as he was tapped and forced wide by the slow starting Nico Rosberg.
Up at the front, Hamilton led from Sebastian Vettel who was fending from Fernando Alonso, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who dropped from second to fourth off the line. Grosjean made two places up, Raikkonen made three and Maldonado made four as he started from the back and cut through the backmarkers.
As the grid returned to the pit straight for the first racing lap, Jenson Button challenged Jean-Eric Vergne down the straight and into the long first corner as he tried to recover from a slow start. The Briton passed the Frenchman into T2 as Kevin Magnussen in the other McLaren also tried to recover from a botched start. Back at the front, Hamilton kept extending his lead at a rate of around a second per lap while Alonso began to fall back from Vettel.
Adrian Sutil lamented his back luck as he was told to box to retire for the third race running on the seventh lap, while Alonso began to reel in the Red Bull ahead of him. As he slowly edged towards Vettel, Ricciardo, shadowed by Rosberg, joined the tail of the battle for second. Despite the potential, it was a very stagnant battle.
Jenson Button became the first man to enter the pits as he took on the medium compound tyres and rejoined at the very back of the grid. Romain Grosjean follows him in on the next lap and rejoins the race in eighteenth. Inspired by their fellow racers, former team-mates Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen pitted for a fresh set of boots. However, as the Ferrari mechanics released Raikkonen, Massa was still parked in his box, shaking his head and looking around for the source of the delay: the rear tyres were not on his car and his mechanics ran frantically around the back of his car. They fumbled with these tyres and again failed to get the tyres onto the car, most likely due to damage he suffered during his contact with Alonso. Finally they fitted the tyres and released him, but he had lost more than a minute in the pits and he rejoined from last, ruining the Brazilian’s race. They later announced that they had accidentally swapped the two rear tyres, trying to fit the left tyre to the right side and so on, which cannot be done, hence the delay.
Massa’s former team-mate, Alonso, pitted for tyres and rejoined the race, while Vettel pitted on the following lap. To Vettel’s dismay, Alonso had taken advantage of the undercut and had moved past the German while in the pits. Vettel rejoined behind both Alonso and the out-of-place Daniil Kvyat who was yet to pit, but the Russian moved over immediately for Vettel in the sister team. Nico Rosberg pitted from a provisional third and rejoined in seventh, ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg. The other Mercedes of Hamilton is shown running very wide but his advantage over the rest of the grid means he didn’t need to worry about losing the time. He pitted at the end of the lap and rejoined easily in the lead.
Rosberg had been running without telemetry all race and had to manually tell the team how his car was performing, based on the readings on his steering wheel. At the same time, he was trying to pass Vettel for third, which he eventually did after an ambitious dive up the inside of turn 14. The two drivers ran wide and Vettel tried to out-drag Rosberg into the final corner, but lost time and fell back behind Rosberg. Although he again challenged his country-man into the first corner, he finally conceded as Rosberg began to build a gap and Ricciardo appeared behind Vettel.
Ricciardo tried to get past Vettel and chase after Rosberg but after two laps couldn’t make use of DRS to do it, prompting the team to issue team orders for the second race running. Although Vettel initially said “tough luck” and fought Ricciardo on the back straight, he ran wide at turn 1 and didn’t bother closing the door as Ricciardo dived up the inside and moved into P4.
Romain Grosjean was running in the points for Lotus, an impressive effort by the Frenchman, until his gearbox began to fall apart and he lost fourth gear. After a very big excursion into the gravel traps at turn 11, he trudged back into the pitlane and climbed wearily from his car.
As the race began to grow stagnant, the race attention turned to Nico Rosberg and Fernandno Alonso who were battling for P2, with a gap of only a second seperating the Mercedes from the leading Ferrari. The battle continued for several laps and built up to a big climax, only for Rosberg to open his DRS and breeze past Alonso as if in a video game. It was frustrating, I’m sure, for Alonso, but Vettel was even angrier as Kamui Kobayashi unlapped himself before Vettel entered the pits.
And with no one to challenge him, Hamilton crossed the line the victor, his first ever hattrick of wins. After taking his 34th pole position, the first Briton to take that many, he took his 25th race victory, to draw him equal with Niki Lauda and Jim Clark. Nico Rosberg followed him home in a distant second to give Mercedes their third consecutive one-two finish, with Fernando Alonso filling out the podium.
Provisional Race Results:
- Lewis Hamilton
- Nico Rosberg
- Fernando Alonso
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Sebastian Vettel
- Nico Hulkenberg
- Valtteri Bottas
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Sergio Perez
- Daniil Kvyat
- Jenson Button
- Jean-Eric Vergne
- Kevin Magnussen
- Pastor Maldonado
- Felipe Massa
- Esteban Gutierrez
- Kamui Kobayashi
- Jules Bianchi
- Max Chilton
- Marcus Ericsson
- Adrian Sutil – Power-unit failure
- Romain Grosjean – Gearbox failure
Image courtesy Mercedes AMG F1 Team