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Lewis Hamilton dominates Chinese Grand Prix ahead of recovering Sebastian Vettel and charging Max Verstappen
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Lewis Hamilton
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  09 Apr 2017   |  9:10 am GMT  |  629 comments

Lewis Hamilton scored his fifth Formula 1 career Chinese Grand Prix victory with a commanding performance in Shanghai to come home ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

The British driver moved level with Vettel at the head of the drivers’ championship as a result, while Verstappen scored Red Bull’s first podium finish of the season.

After much of Friday’s practice running was lost when low cloud prevented the medical helicopter from operating as required, there was much speculation that the race could be disrupted as it took place in similar conditions.

2017 Chinese Grand Prix

That situation was avoided as the FIA arranged for the necessary neurosurgery staff to be transferred to a hospital closer to the circuit, but rain had fallen in the build up to the start and all the drivers – except Carlos Sainz – set off on intermediates.

Hamilton held his lead from pole position on the run to Turn 1 as Vettel, who had lined up strangely to the side of his grid box, defended hard from Valtteri Bottas through the long right-hander, while Daniel Ricciardo passed Kimi Raikkonen for fourth place.

Verstappen, who had started down in 17th after he suffered an engine problem in qualifying, had made it well into the top ten by the end of the first lap, which was disrupted by a collision between Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez at Turn 10 that ended the Canadian driver’s race.

Lance Stroll

The Virtual Safety Car was deployed on the second lap of the 56-lap event while Stroll’s car was recovered and most of the field – including Vettel for new soft tyres – chose to come in and switch to slick tyres. Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen and the two Red Bull drivers stayed out on their intermediates.

Shortly after the VSC ended, Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi crashed heavily on the pit straight for the second time in two days. The Italian lost control of his C36 as he ran onto the still-wet grid and smashed into the pitwall, which triggered a full Safety Car intervention.

As the marshals recovered the wrecked Sauber, the field had to drive through the pits and the leaders took their chance to switch to slicks – softs for the Mercedes drivers and Raikkonen, and super-softs for the Red Bulls.

Antonio Giovinazzi

The timing of the Safety Car worked out badly for Vettel who dropped from second to sixth due to his early stop under the VSC, but he was given one place back when Bottas went off before the restart and dropped down to 12th place.

When the race did get going again, Hamilton maintained his lead and for the first few laps the top five were covered by less than three seconds.

But the triple world champion began to pull clear as Ricciardo held up his team-mate and the Ferrari drivers. The two pairs of team-mates fought each other for a while before Verstappen dived up the inside at Turn 6 and pulled off a stunning pass late on the brakes at the tight right-hander.

2017 Chinese Grand Prix

Verstappen scampered off after Hamilton – who continued to pull clear – while Ricciardo thwarted the Ferrari drivers. For almost ten laps they could not find a way by, as Hamilton extended his lead.

Vettel eventually launched a similarly bold move to Verstappen’s at Turn 6, which got him back past Raikkonen – who was complaining of power problems on his team radio – on lap 20 and up to third. Two laps later he attacked Ricciardo at the same corner with a thrilling move around the outside. The pair ran side-by-side on the run to Turn 7 and briefly clashed wheels before Vettel sailed into third place and set off after Verstappen.

Hamilton continued his march as Vettel reeled in Verstappen and at the halfway mark he went past him when the Red Bull driver locked up at the Turn 14 hairpin and ran wide.

Sebastian Vettel

By this stage Hamilton had a solid 12-second lead and was asking his team if he would have to go to the end on his soft tyres. But after Verstappen and Ricciardo came in to replace their super-softs, both Vettel and Hamilton did come in for their own fresh tyres.

Vettel took four seconds out of Hamilton’s lead by pitting two laps earlier and although he managed to reduce the deficit on a few occasions, the Mercedes driver always appeared to have enough pace to manage the gap over the final stint.

Hamilton came home 6.2s ahead of Vettel to score his 54th F1 win, as Verstappen – furiously complaining about blue flags not being shown to Romain Grosjean – held off a late charge from Ricciardo to take third.

Lewis Hamilton Sebastian Vettel

Speaking after the race, Hamilton said: “It was incredible. Today was very tough for us all. I went out on the inters initially on the laps to the grid and then I tried the slick, which was impossible.

“We all started on the inters and it was very hard because there were a lot of dry patches everywhere – mostly dry with a couple of corners that were wet. Trying to keep the car on the track and look after the tyres at the same time was definitely very tough.”

Raikkonen, who was also angry about how long Ferrari had left him on his first set of soft tyres, eventually finished fifth, just behind the Red Bull drivers, while Bottas caught up to all three of them by the end and finished sixth.

Carlos Sainz

Sainz survived dropping to last off the line and running wide at Turn 1 as he struggled with slicks on the wet grid, then spinning at Turn 2 a short while later and appearing to hit the barriers as he re-joined, to leap up the order and run just behind the lead battle early on. He fell away from the front but kept his pace up and was the final driver left on the lead lap as he finished seventh, best-of-the-rest behind the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull drivers.

Kevin Magnussen beat the Force India pair of Perez and Esteban Ocon to eighth to score his first points for Haas F1. The Danish driver escaped punishment for driving too slowly behind the Safety Car, while no action was taken for the Perez and Stroll incident.

Grosjean finished 11th, ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, who was handed a five-second penalty for overtaking under the VSC and a ten-second penalty for the same infraction under the full Safety Car.

Jolyon Palmer came home 13th in the second Renault, one spot in front of Williams’ Felipe Massa, who dropped down from sixth on the grid. Marcus Ericsson was last of the drivers to finish the race, one lap down in 15th for Sauber.

Fernando Alonso

McLaren suffered a double retirement as a fuel problem stopped Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso’s race was ended with what he reported as a driveshaft problem over his team radio. Alonso had spent much of the race running in the top ten and had been fighting Sainz shortly before the problem occurred.

The only other driver not to finish was Daniil Kvyat, who pulled off the track to retire on lap 20.

Chinese Grand Prix results:

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h37m36.160s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +6.250s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull +45.192s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +46.035s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +48.076s
6 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +48.808s
7 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +1m12.893s
8 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 +1 Lap
9 Sergio Perez Force India +1 Lap
10 Esteban Ocon Force India +1 Lap
11 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 +1 Lap
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault +1 Lap
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault +1 Lap
14 Felipe Massa Williams +1 Lap
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1 Lap
DNF Fernando Alonso McLaren
DNF Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso
DNF Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren
DNF Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber
DNF Lance Stroll Williams

What did you make of the Chinese Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

Shame the safety car affected Vettel & robbed us of a battle between him & Hamilton on a track where you can overtake. Would’ve been great to see them fight for the win right till the end with overtakes. A lot of people saying this track & cooler temperature would suit the Mercedes more & warmer conditions suiting the Ferrari but that Ferrari looked very fast to me during quali & the race with having similar pace as the Merc. Brundle said he thinks the Ferrari will do well on every track & in any condition plus is more planted to the track compared to the Merc. Interesting how Bahrain will go for both cars as it’s a warmer climate. Hamilton saying that they struggle to keep their tyre temp when it’s warmer is an issue for them. Look forward to a great battle between the two during the whole season.

2

Does anyone else miss watching Rosberg pressure Hamilton, I know Ferrari are a match for MB this season which is great but can you imagine if Rosberg were still here adding to the Ferrari pressure, now that would have been exciting. MB can say goodbye to constructors if Bottas keeps bringing in 6th place. Lewis is so ecstatic because the inter-team pressure is entirely gone with Bottas nowhere near a match for Rosberg.

3

How do you guys think Ocon has fared so far with Force India based on the first two races?

4

He”s doing alright so far.

5

Seems like the safety car thwarted what would have been a good fight between hamilton and vettel. I enjoyed this race. Was wishing it was a few laps longer to see what ricciardo could do against vest.

6

Decent race featuring some really tremendous driving by several of the competitors. Hamilton looked imperious across a race weekend that was made to look far less tricky than it really was. It would’ve taken something really special to threaten him on that kind of form, and Vettel went a long way towards delivering that. I think any remaining doubts about Vettel’s ability to fight wheel-to-wheel can be put to bed. You have to wonder what might have been, had Ferrari’s strategy not proven sub-optimal. Verstappen’s drive will grab a lot of headlines and deservedly so – his charge to third was one of those drives that seemed to redefine what’s possible in an F1 car, like Senna, Hamilton and Villeneuve have done previously.

Elsewhere, Kevin Magnussen can be very happy with his performance and I suspect Ocon will, too. Perez might be a little disappointed to only take ninth after a barnstorming first half of the race. Carlos Sainz was a lucky, lucky boy but I was impressed by how he put those nearly-calamitous opening laps behind him and seized the opportunities that came his way thereafter.

Dan Ricciardo will probably have mixed feelings about his weekend, but it’s interesting that we once again saw a ‘tortoise and hare’ kind of race between teammates, with the hard charging ‘hare’ in the early part of the race being gradually reeled in by the tortoise by the finish. Last time out it was Hamilton and Bottas, so it’ll be interesting to see if this is a particular quirk of the new tyres.

Quite a few bad weekends out there, though. Bottas and Raikkonen were both badly shown up by their teammates and both need to get a handle on that ASAP. It was an utterly miserable race for Williams, after a decent qualifying. Stroll’s collision was a total racing incident – it was naive of him not to turn in like that on the first lap, but you also have to say Perez should’ve known better than to risk his nose like that with such a green driver in the other car. More worrying will be Massa’s lack of race pace. Something seems amiss there, given that they have a powerful engine and this is a bit more of a power circuit than Australia. Could they not get the tyres switched on with the green track? Is their mechanical grip not great? It’s not a good sign.

McLaren will likely come away from China with mixed feelings. Another double DNF, offset by the knowledge that Alonso can get them into the points as soon as they can deliver him a car capable of completing the distance. Renault won’t be happy, though, and Nico Hulkenberg should give his head a wobble after two mistakes that a driver of his experience simply shouldn’t be making.

All in all, a decent race, with some great driving not translating into quite as much action as you might hope. Ferrari were closer to Mercedes than I thought they would be, given that Shanghai should favour the Merc’s strong PU more than Melbourne. This weekend has only reinforced my initial belief that we’re in for a real humdinger of a title battle, one that will be a real feather in the cap of whoever comes out on top.

7

Excellent impassionate posting, started reading diagonally being too long, then I realised that is a good one. Thank you.
Yea, in my mind Perez was more at fault than Lance, it was about an experienced and decently good driver racing against a green one, precaution should have prevailed.

8

Anyone know what happened to the new on-screen graphics we saw for the Australian qualifying? It was missing this time around. Showed little dots that indicated whether each driver was improving in each sub-sector. I thought it was a really nice addition, but perhaps not everyone agreed.

9

Faultless clean set of heals from Lewis.
Nice to see Vet with his elbows out and Ves is clearly the class of the field in the wet, although he seems to have trouble with back markers that are 3 seconds down the road ;). Ric showed his fighting qualities at the end. The Finns are faltering are are showing they are not in the elite class (anymore).

Still a concern that the final podium spot was filled by a car 45 seconds behind the leader and there was only 7 cars finishing on the lead lap…

10

Hi James.

Clarity on vettels starting posiiton?

Also when will you develop a JAF1 App ?

11

Why do you need an app for? What shall it do?

12

Well at the early moment Lewis chose to stay out it looked like another blown strategy call. TIMHO the safety car saved his goose. Other than that another processional race with a wee bit o excitement at the end courtesy of Ricciardos chase. This is shaping up to be a looong passless season.

13

What a race!Ferrari still believes they have the fastest car on the grid but Lewis put in classy drive.
That will not go well for Ferrari if Mercedes sorts their tyres issues out.I still tip Mercedes to win both championships.

14

Are we poster minions more influential than we think?
Specifically, are our posts on JAonF1 being read on a regular basis by drivers and team bosses alike? And do they in fact sometimes base actions/decisions/inclinations on that?
l would almost tend to say yes. Bear with me:
– In the Pascal Wehrlein discussion I recently argued here that he did not so much suffer a back injury but in fact serious neck trauma. The next day Toto Wolff felt compelled to issue a statement precisely stating that.
– In another post I observed ‘Max abbreviation has been changed to VER this season, except for Lewis who keeps referring to him as THI: “this guy”.’
And Lo and behold, to my amazement Max on the podium today complained to Lewis, “You keep calling me ‘this guy’!”.
Should I go and charge you, Max for social interaction advice rendererd?

15

One thing that hasn’t been discussed anywhere above is the difference in decisions after the Giovinazzi accident.

Red Bull saved Verstappen from ‘queuing’ behind Ricciardo by making DR drive through the pits on the first time and then change his tyres on the second trip through the pit. This saved time for Max. In other words they pitted Max first.

However Mercedes made Bottas queue (which i didn’t actually see but confirmed by Ted Kavitz) and he lost places, even before his mistake behind the safety car.

Great decision by RB which i believe helped Max as well.

16

Allow me to say Dominant drive from Hamilton today! So many superlatives. challenging track conditions, made it look easy, even with Ferrari being perhaps fastet car. 54 career wins, second of all time, won at least one race for each of his 11 years, only to be referred to curiously as Lucky by some? With no mind to previous, I realize that I am privileged to observe someone who is truly special. As for vettels vsc strategy call, absolutely correct at the time. As for Raikkonen, no judgement made about his talent or ability, he was having power issues with the car, and the car setup isn’t to his preference at present time. As for Ricci-ardo, he may have lost more than just a podium position today?

17

I don’t agree with the assertion that the overtakes in this race were all not assisted by the DRS. The fact is the DRS at the end of the straight offsets the dirty air from the leading car on the entry to the straight. Without the DRS assistance many times the overtaker would not have been close enough to even contemplate the overtake let alone complete it.

It does appear, early evidence of course, that the new wider cars (especially the front tires) with more downforce don’t benefit quite as much from the DRS. It enables them to get close enough for an overtake under brakes or into the corner. But not so much that they simply blast past down the straight. That’s of course against cars with similar engine performance, not those suffering huge power deficiencies (we all know who), where the DRS isn’t even necessary.

On Williams, it confuses me that they don’t sacrifice some of their straight line speed for a bit more downforce. Cranking on a couple of degrees of front and rear wing, would make a huge difference to their downforce with a small sacrifice in top speed. They could easily give up between 5 and 10 kph and make a huge difference to their downforce. It’s like they don’t even try it, as they seem to top the speed trap speeds most sessions. Especially on wet/drying track like this one I would have thought that they would at least give it a go. Or are the solely relying on their simulations rather than trying it in the real world?

18

Provided both Merc & Ferrari keep development race identical up to Abu Dhabi, it’s up to Hamilton & Vettel to cement their legacy as legendary as Senna & Prost, irrespective of which one of them grabs the title. Both are currently at their prime, have fastest cars, de facto both teams’ ‘numero uno’, best of the bests on the grid at the moment, what else you can say more!?
Now we want more – to witness their wheel 2 wheel battles)
Really can’t wait Bahrain.

19

A few more races like this and Daniel Ricciardo will see his name changed to “Ricciardo Patrese” (Very good driver who had the poor fortune of being teammates to phenomenal once-in-a-lifetime super drivers).

20

I don’t think dominate is the right word, controlled yes but not dominate.

Hamilton was given an easy ride due to the fortunate timing of the safety car for giovanizzi. With vettel in second place at that point and having to sit behind his past-it team mate it would have been a much tougher afternoon for him, with every chance that the ferrari was faster over the race distance.

21
Jean-Christophe

People keep saying Ferrari were faster. How much faster do you reckon they were? On what are you basing this?
Regarding the safety car is it not fair to say that would have been lucky to benefit from the VSC had the Sauber not crashed? Has Vettel never benefited from a SC?

22

Very good drives from:
Lewis
Vertappen
Vettel
Sainz

Massa should retire bcs he’s old and not fit enough for the high g-forces.
Stroll should retire too.

So far didn’t hear all radio messages, but I’m glad that Vettel didn’t ask Ferrari to bypass Kimi.

If GiovaLiuzzi had not crashed, Vettel would probably hv won.

Merc = Ferrari
RBR 1 sec. behind on race pace.
RBR will decide who is the championship as they are a pain to overtake.

23

RBR not hard to overtake some drivers find it hard to overtake them within two laps Vettel was past Ricciardo, notwithstanding being on the faster SS tyres.

Not at this moment will they have an impact on the WDC!

24

Lewis was stuck behind Verstappen in Australia.
Vettel lost time behind the Ricciardo train in China.
So, IMo, yes.
RB traffic was a factor in both races.

25

Haha Massa did retire! But he was begged back! Good move? Probably not!

26

James, do you know why no further action was taken against Vettel for his grid position? Article 35.4 states the cars will be 16 metres apart.

27

The FERRARI strategy at the time was the right and correct one, if it wasn’t for the Antonio Giovinazzi safety car which most probably cost Vettel his race win, Vettel would have ended at least five seconds in front of the others after they had pitted for tyre change.

28

Yep and then it would have looked like a masterstroke. Even though it didn’t work out, I am happy that they were bold with the strategy call and hope it continues in other races.

29
Jean-Christophe

Is it me or the coverage was a bit odd. We didn’t see the merc pit and missed botass’ spin among other things

30

You could see bottas spin in e background, the commentators missed it

31

Weren’t you all boared by Raikkonen’s constant moaning over the radio? What’s wrong with this guy?

32

He’s past it and has been for the last 4 years. End of.

33

Race was boring.
I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for something exciting to happen, but it never did!
Still resembles a managed championship.
Contrary to Maxie’s … (there’s no better description it) whining, the blue flags were used fairly and judiciously.
But credit where credit is due, Max did provide much of the extremely limited passing, and Vettel must be noted for his passing prowess, also.
But…
BORING!!!

34

“I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for something exciting to happen, but it never did!”

Danny Ric fan, I presume?

35

Didn’t watch the whole race, however, it seems that SV can overtake. On the other hand, LH was a bit lucky overall. This was not a characteristic circuit or race of 2017. So, let us wait and see what happens in the following races. If LH wanted a close competition, after 2016 I don’t think so but anyway, here it is. I think SV means business.

36

How come there was no mention of RoGro’s awesome pass around the otherside of turn 1, 2 complex. It was, in my opinion the overtake of the race. He went in fully committed, carrying plenty of speed. Massa had no answer. It was stunning to say the least.

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