The 2013 Chinese Grand Prix delivered an entertaining race which saw a third different winner in three races this season and plenty of impressive performances all the way down the field.
Ferrari’s double world champion Fernando Alonso took an impressive victory, building on a fantastic start to take his 31st career win. Kimi Raikkonen felt he could have challenged for the win in the Lotus had it not been for a glitch at the start and damage to his nose following a collision with McLaren’s Sergio Perez.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton couldn’t match his scintillating qualifying pace in the race but did his best with the car he had and was rewarded with a second successive podium. Reigning world champion Vettel produced a thrilling recovery drive from ninth to take fourth, narrowly missing out on a podium.
McLaren’s Jenson Button took fifth after starting eighth thanks to a good strategy while Daniel Ricciardo scored the best finish of his career with seventh in the Toro Rosso – but who was your Driver of the Day?
A brilliant start was the cornerstone of a dominant drive to a victory. Moved up to second at the start and then passed Hamilton for the lead as the Mercedes driver struggled with his tyres. From there he controlled the race, only losing the lead when he fell out of sync with those who started on the mediums and therefore ran deeper into the race. Found himself behind Vettel after his final stop, but knew the Red Bull had to pit for soft tyres. Even so, the Spaniard passed the German for the lead. Took his 31st career victory and second in China, equalling Nigel Mansell for fourth in the all-time winners list. Closed to within nine points of championship leader Vettel.
Recovered from a bad start to finish second and move to within three points of championship leader Vettel. A glitch at the start meant the Finn didn’t get away cleanly, dropping from second to fourth. Moved up to third at the first stops as Felipe Massa dropped back, but then hit the back of Perez who robustly defended his position. Broke the nose of his Lotus as a result, but decided not to pit. Jumped Hamilton at the final stops to move into second where he remained. After the race, he said he could have challenged Alonso for the lead had the team got everything “100%” right.
Started from pole and though he lacked the race pace to keep the lead, drove well to take third. Made a clean getaway from pole to keep both Ferraris at bay, but quickly found himself in trouble on the soft tyres. Both Ferraris past him before he pitted a lap later. Moved back into second after Massa dropped back. Dropped down the field during the next round of stops, he eventually found himself back in second but lost the position to Raikkonen at the final round of stops. Suffered on his final set of tyres in the last couple of laps but a couple of mistakes by the chasing Vettel saw Hamilton hold onto third.
Tried a different strategy, starting on the medium tyre, in a bid to bring himself back into the race but agonisingly missed out on a podium. Started from ninth and maintained position in the early stages, but rose up the standings as those on soft tyres ahead of him pitted. Found himself second, behind Nico Hulkenberg but lost time as he struggled to find a way past. Leapfrogged Hulkenberg in the pits and gave chase after Alonso, slowly cutting into his lead. Took the lead when Alonso pitted, but was past by the Spaniard shortly after. Pitted on lap 51, rejoining fourth, 12 seconds behind Hamilton and though he closed the gap to under a second, a couple of small mistakes on the final lap ended his hopes of stealing third.
Started the race on the medium tyre which allowed him to go deep into the race and even took the lead before eventually finishing fifth. Maintained position at the start and then rose up the field to lead as those on soft tyres pitted. Managed his race well by pushing and then conserving tyres when required. Dropped down the field when he pitted late for softs, but past Massa for fifth which is where he went on to finish.
Qualified well and finished seventh – his best result in Formula 1. Made a good start, but dropped out of the points after the first round of stops. Showed good pace from then on in, putting a good pass on his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne at the hairpin. Climbed back into the points and was even catching Massa in the closing stages but ran out of time. Finished seventh for Toro Rosso’s best finish since the 2011 Korean Grand Prix.
So who was your Driver of the Day? Leave a comment at the bottom of this story.