Lewis Hamilton dominates Chinese GP in third straight Mercedes 1-2
Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton dominated Formula 1’s 1000th World Championship Grand Prix as Mercedes cruised to a 1-2 finish in China.
The prospect of a potential three-team fight for victory ultimately never materialised as Mercedes controlled the race to pick up its third straight 1-2 finish in a relatively processional affair.
It is the first time since 1992 that one team has begun the campaign by locking out the top two spots at three successive events.
Hamilton’s route to victory was effectively sealed off the line as he grabbed the initiative into Turn 1, with pole sitter Bottas slotting into second spot.
Both Mercedes drivers ran a two-stop strategy in cool and overcast conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit, with the team opting to double-stack the duo at the second round of stops.
Hamilton’s second win on the bounce enabled him to take the lead of the championship from Bottas, and also equalled his best start to a Formula 1 season.
Sebastian Vettel finished third for Ferrari but there was sizeable focus on team orders.
Vettel dropped behind Charles Leclerc off the line and the duo quickly drifted out of sight of the pace-setting Mercedes drivers.
“You need to go faster or you will need to let Sebastian past,” Leclerc was told after 10 laps, after which he allowed his team-mate by on the pit straight.
But Vettel was unable to pull away and instead Leclerc issued a terse response, commenting “I’m losing quite a lot of time. I don’t know whether you want to know or not. But just so you know.”
Vettel and Leclerc were caught by fifth-placed Max Verstappen, who recovered from an unusual formation lap spin, and Red Bull triggered the first round of stops, putting Ferrari under pressure.
Vettel came in next time around and emerged narrowly ahead of Verstappen, who launched an attack into the hairpin.
Vettel fought back on the exit of the corner and was never again challenged by the Dutchman, but Red Bull’s aggressive approach netted Verstappen fourth.
Ferrari kept Leclerc out for a few more laps and he emerged a long way behind Verstappen, with his second stop doing little to address the deficit that had opened up.
Pierre Gasly had another lacklustre race for Red Bull and was half a minute behind Leclerc, with a sizeable gap over the midfield, so pitted late to go for the fastest lap, a feat which he achieved, taking the additional point, which had provisionally belonged to Vettel.
Daniel Ricciardo finally picked up points for Renault courtesy of seventh but reliability gremlins struck the team once more as team-mate Nico Hulkenberg retired with an as-yet-undiagnosed problem.
Sergio Perez took eighth for Racing Point, ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, while Toro Rosso’s Alexander Albon surged from the pit lane to pick up the final point in the team's 250th Grand Prix.
Albon was chased by Romain Grosjean in the final stint but the Frenchman’s challenge fell short as Haas again missed out on points.
Grosjean’s team-mate Kevin Magnussen was demoted by Racing Point’s Lance Stroll on the final lap, albeit in the battle only for 12th.
McLaren’s slim prospects of points were undone on the first lap as both Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris were caught up in a clash with Daniil Kvyat as the trio exited Turn 6.
Stewards pinned the blame on Kvyat, who eventually retired, while Norris – whose car was tipped into the air – also abandoned the race with a few laps remaining.
Sainz Jr. went on to classify 14th, ahead only of Antonio Giovinazzi and Williams pair George Russell and Robert Kubica, as the team’s struggles continued.
Azerbaijan’s Baku City Circuit will host the next round of the season from April 26 to 28
China - Race Result
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||27.627|
|6||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull||89.307|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault||1 Lap|
|8||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||1 Lap|
|9||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1 Lap|
|10||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso||1 Lap|
|11||Romain Grosjean||Haas||1 Lap|
|12||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||1 Lap|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1 Lap|
|14||Carlos Sainz||McLaren||1 Lap|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1 Lap|
|16||George Russell||Williams||2 Laps|
|17||Robert Kubica||Williams||2 Laps|
|19||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||DNF|