Hamilton leads another Mercedes 1-2 at China

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F1 Grand Prix, GP China, Shanghai International Ciruitcn

Lewis Hamilton scored a dominant victory at the Chinese Grand Prix, leading the race from start to finish. Nico Rosberg recovered from a difficult start to finish second while Fernando Alonso secured Ferrari's first podium of the season.

Conditions for the Chinese Grand Prix are dry, as expected, and chilly as well.

As the lights went out, Lewis Hamilton kept out of trouble and retained the lead, going through the first lap in first place. Sebastian Vettel shot up to second place with Alonso also making a solid start to third. Felipe Massa though had the best getaway and was slightly airlifted when he cut to the inside when the gap to pass Ricciardo on the outside closed. The Brazilian got squeezed a bit between Ricciardo and Alonso and had to back out, settling in 5th, just behind Ricciardo.

The second Williams of Bottas was also involved in contact following a great start for him as well. Similarly, Bottas backed out a bit and settled in 9th. Rosberg was 6th at the end of lap 1 following a troubled start, ahead of Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Bottas, Raikkonen, Kvyat, Perez, Vergne, Button, Gutierrez, Magnussen, Kobayashi, Maldonado, Bianchi, Chilton, Ericsson and Sutil.

On lap 5 Rosberg gets past Massa and starts his charge towards Ricciardo who is about 1.5 seconds ahead. The German Mercedes driver was having problems with his start due to a lack of telemetry, and later was also told that the team did not expect telemetry to come back before the end of the race, complicating things further for Rosberg.

Lap 7 marks the end of the race for Adrian Sutil. Already after lap 1 he was 15 seconds behind the last driver, and it seems only got worse. The German entered the pits and was pulled into the Sauber garage immediately.

Jenson Button meanwhile is the first to stop on lap 8, changing from options to prime. Grosjean does the same 2 laps later. All cars by now are clearly encountering some graining on the right front tyre, a common sight around the Shanghai circuit.

Felipe Massa pits on lap 11 and appears to have surprised his team. The pitcrew did not have the rear tyres ready, causing an extemely slow pitstop forthe Brazilian. When the tyres eventually arrived, the left rear turned out to be an issue as well. It eventually got bolted onto the car, allowed Massa to return to the track in last place, 11 seconds behind Ericsson.

On lap 12 Alonso pits to change to options, followed by Vettel one lap later. The World Champion though soon found out that Alonso had run a great out lap to get past him while he was in the pits. Ricciardo at the same time is told to stay out for a few more laps. Vettel soon proved he could easily keep up with the Ferrari in the corners, but lacks top speed to attempt an overtake. To keep his options open he then decided to back off a little and save some fuel and preserve his tyres.

By lap 20, Hamilton still leads, 4.5s ahead of Alonso. Vettel is third, 3.4 behind Alonso and 2.3s ahead of Rosberg. Ricciardo is another 2.5s behind with Hulkenberg nearly 7 seconds down in 6th. Bottas is 7th, ahead of Raikkonen, Grosjean and Perez.

On lap 23, Rosberg has already closed the gap to Vettel and easily gets past the Red Bull, even though Vettel put in a good fight to attempt to get the place back after an easy DRS pass on the back straight. The fight though brought Ricciardo completely in the fight as well. The Australian left no chance untouched and immediately started passing attempts on his teammate. Obviously, without the lack of excess speed on the straights, it will be far less easy for him than it was for Rosberg.

2 laps later, Vettel is asked to let Ricciardo past, the latter being clearly faster than him. Vettel did ask on what tyres Ricciardo was running, and initially resisted the request, but another 3 laps later he accepted the team's request. Soon after he started asking about pitting, attempting to get on a new set of tyres before Ricciardo and thereby attempt to get in charge again. Rocky though kindly asked "please stay out Sebastian, it helps us".

Lap 30 is the end of the race for Romain Grosjean. Initially failing to stop his car as expected, he went through the gravel and slowly got to the pits. As Grosjean was asked before to not use 4th gear anymore, it is likely the gearbox was the cause of Grosjean's retirement.

5 laps later Alonso is the first of the front runners to pit, followed by Rosberg and Ricciardo two laps later, and Hamilton on lap 39. The stops did not lead to any position changes, except that Alonso gained 2 seconds on Rosberg.

On lap 40, Hamilton leads Alonso by 13 seconds. Rosberg meanwhile set the fastest lap of the race thus far, reducing his deficit to the Ferrari ahead of 3.7 seconds. Another lap later the gap is down to 2.1 seconds. On lap 42 Rosberg takes second place. The next threat for Alonso is Ricciardo, 5 seconds behind but clearly quicker at this point in the race. The Spaniard however did use 2% less fuel thus far in the race and may have a few extra drops of gasoline to throw into the battle if needed.

Hamilton meanwhile didn't have to bother with any of that, having used just 90% of the allotted fuel for the race. It may be that he did start the race with the tank not entirely full, speculating beforehand that they would need less fuel. Hamilton finished the race in first place, comfortably leading Rosberg by approximately 20 seconds.

Afterwards, it was also clarified that due to waving the finish flag one lap too early, the result of the race are the positions at the end of the penultimate lap, nullifying Kamui Kobayashi's overtake over Jules Bianchi in lap 55.

Results

Pos.NoDriverTeamLapsTimeGridPts
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG541:33:28.338125
26Nico RosbergMercedes AMG54+18.0 secs418
314Fernando AlonsoFerrari54+23.6 secs515
43Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault54+27.1 secs212
51Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault54+47.8 secs310
627Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes54+54.3 secs88
777Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes54+55.7 secs76
87Kimi RäikkönenFerrari54+76.3 secs114
911Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes54+82.6 secs162
1026Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault53+1 Lap131
1122Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes53+1 Lap12
1225Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault53+1 Lap9
1320Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes53+1 Lap15
1413Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault53+1 Lap22
1519Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes53+1 Lap6
1621Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari53+1 Lap17
1717Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari53+1 Lap19
1810Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault53+1 Lap18
194Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari52+2 Laps21
209Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault52+2 Laps20
Ret8Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault28Gearbox10
Ret99Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari5Engine14


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