Lewis Hamilton Wins Chinese Grand Prix

Following the Chinese Grand Prix, Chris Soulsby looks at Lewis Hamilton's 53rd win in Formula 1 and the results from the race.

After Sebastian Vettel claimed the win at the season opening Australian Grand Prix, Formula 1 returned this weekend for the Chinese Grand Prix. There was limited running on Friday in free practice through poor weather and Saturday allowed teams to finally get some running around the Shanghai International Circuit, with Lewis Hamilton securing pole position for Mercedes. Starting in first place, Hamilton carried this position through to the end of the race, securing his 53rd career win for Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton Wins Chinese Grand Prix

With the Chinese Grand Prix starting in damp conditions, many questions hung around in terms of strategy ahead of the race. This saw a number of teams change direction with their starting tyre compound, with cars starting the race both on intermediate and slick tyres. Hamilton started the race on the intermediates and got away cleanly, leading from the outset. He later pitted onto the soft compound tyre during a Safety Car period brought out by the stricken Sauber of Antonio Giovinazzi, rejoining once again in first place. After a final stop onto the soft compound tyre towards the end of the race, Hamilton crossed the line to secure his fifth win in China, six seconds ahead of second place.

Sebastian Vettel finished the race where he started in second place, securing another podium for Ferrari. At the start of the race, Vettel didn’t have the strongest start, coming under threat from Valtteri Bottas around the outside of turn 1. Vettel held onto second however. Following the deployment of a Virtual Safety Car brought out by Lance Stroll retiring from the race, Vettel pitted, fitting the soft compound tyre. This proved to be the wrong call for the Ferrari driver, with a Safety Car being deployed a few laps later which allowed the top five drivers to pit under the yellow flag, meaning that Vettel lost out and maintained sixth position following his pit stop. Joining a train of cars with Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo, Vettel managed to make his way up the field, pulling off breathtaking overtakes on the two drivers in the hairpin of sector 1. Vettel then closed in on Max Vertsappen for second place, overtaking the Dutchman in the second last corner. From then on Vettel maintained second place and secured 18 points for his looming championship battle.

Max Verstappen finished in third place for Red Bull Racing, securing the driver of the day award through his performance. Verstappen qualified in 19th place for the race after having engine issues in qualifying, however was promoted to 17th following a series of penalties towards the back of the grid. In the first lap, Verstappen performed nine overtakes and maintained third place following all of the pit stops in the early stages of the race. He then fell down to third after locking his front left tyre in the second last corner, allowing Vettel to come through. Verstappen crossed the line in third in the end, narrowly holding off his team mate, Daniel Ricciardo, who finished 0.9 seconds behind in fourth place.

Kimi Raikkonen finished the race in fifth place in the second Ferrari. Raikkonen had a very difficult race, suffering from engine issues and tyre wear, wanting to pit earlier than Ferrari wished, which in turn caused the Finn to lose out and finish where he did.

Valtteri Bottas finished in sixth place for Mercedes after starting in third. Bottas was running well in the early stages of the race, however, after switching to the soft compound tyre under the Safety Car his race fell apart, spinning at the end of sector 2 and dropping down to 12th place, which in turn ruined his chances for the day.

Carlos Sainz Jr finished in seventh place for Toro Rosso. Sainz was the only driver to start the race on the dry tyres which proved to be a good decision in the long run despite being in 19th place at the end of the first lap after qualifying in 11th place.

Kevin Magnussen finished in eighth place, securing his first points finish for the Haas F1 Team. Magnussen qualified in 12th place and drove a very impressive race, overtaking both of the Force India cars on track to finish where he did. This result marks Magnussen’s first points finish since the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix when he was driving for Renault.

The two Force India drivers of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon rounded out the points in ninth and tenth place, securing a double points finish for the second race weekend in succession. Both drivers had a fairly quiet race in China, although Perez did get involved with a first lap collision with Lance Stroll. Romain Grosjean finished just outside of the points for Haas F1 in 11th place after losing time behind the Safety Car, having an issue with DRS, and having a collision with Ocon.

Despite qualifying in seventh place, Nico Hulkenberg finished in 12th for Renault. From the outset, Hulkenberg’s race went from bad to worse. After pitting at the end of lap 1 for soft tyres, the former Force India driver was under investigation for overtaking under the Virtual Safety Car and then overtaking under the Safety Car which resulted in the German driver getting 15 seconds worth of penalties. Jolyon Palmer followed Hulkenberg home in 13th place after starting in last place through a 5 place grid penalty caused by speeding under yellow flags. Palmer’s race was plagued with tyre wear, with the Brit suffering throughout the race.

Felipe Massa was the highest finishing Williams in 14th place after qualifying in sixth. Massa had a difficult race and was unable to turn on the dry compound tyre, slowing down after the Safety Car period.

Marcus Ericsson was the final finisher in 15th place for Sauber, being off the pace generally from the rest of the field.

There were five retirements in the Chinese Grand Prix, with reliability and accidents affecting one quarter of the field.

The race weekend was a very disappointing race for McLaren, with the team having their first double DNF since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso retired from the race with a driveshaft problem on lap 33 while Stoffel Vandoorne retired on lap 18 with a loss in fuel pressure.

Daniil Kvyat also retired for Toro Rosso, retiring with a hydraulics issue which resulted in a loss of power steering for the young Russian.

Antonio Giovinazzi’s difficult weekend continued into the race for Sauber, with the stand-in driver crashing on lap 3 into the inside wall of the main straight, causing the Safety Car to be deployed.

Giovinazzi’s crash can be watched here: [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hq1F9p72BmY[/youtube]

Lance Stroll retired for the second time in two races for Williams following a collision with Sergio Perez on lap 1 which resulted in the Canadian being launched airborne and into a gravel trap, getting beached and causing a Virtual Safety Car.

In terms of driver of the day, there is one clear winner and that is Max Verstappen. Verstappen drove a fantastic race, starting in 17th place and finishing in third, making up nine places alone in the first lap. Because of this, it would be difficult for any other driver to match Verstappen’s achievements in the race.

Results from the Chinese Grand Prix:

  1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 25 points
  2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 18 points
  3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 15 points
  4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 12 points
  5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 10 points
  6. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 8 points
  7. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 6 points
  8. Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 4 points
  9. Sergio Perez, Force India, 2 points
  10. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 1 point
  11. Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 0 points
  12. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 0 points
  13. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 0 points
  14. Felipe Massa, Williams, 0 points
  15. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 0 points
  16. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Ret
  17. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, Ret
  18. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Ret
  19. Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber, Ret
  20. Lance Stroll, Williams, Ret

Drivers Standings after the Chinese Grand Prix:

  1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 43 points
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 43 points
  3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 25 points
  4. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 23 points
  5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 22 points
  6. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, 12 points
  7. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 10 points
  8. Felipe Massa, Williams, 8 points
  9. Sergio Perez, Force India, 8 points
  10. Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1, 4 points
  11. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 2 points
  12. Esteban Ocon, Force India, 2 points
  13. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 0 points
  14. Romain Grosjean, Haas F1, 0 points
  15. Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber, 0 points
  16. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 0 points
  17. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 0 points
  18. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 0 points
  19. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 0 points
  20. Lance Stroll, Williams, 0 points

Constructors Standings after the Chinese Grand Prix:

  1. Mercedes, 66 points
  2. Ferrari, 65 points
  3. Red Bull Racing, 37 points
  4. Toro Rosso, 12 points
  5. Force India, 10 points
  6. Williams, 8 points
  7. Haas F1, 4 points
  8. Renault, 0 points
  9. Sauber, 0 points
  10. McLaren, 0 points

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