Hamilton wins as Verstappen shines in China

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton wins the Chinese GP ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as Kevin Magnussen scores Haas’s first points of the season.

09/04/17

Tyre choice

As the track is damp, most of the drivers are starting on the Intermediate tyre. All except one. That driver is Torro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz who is starting on the Supersoft tyre.

Race

At the end of the Formation lap, Jolyon Palmer pulls into the pits, swapping the Inters for a set of slicks. Sebastian Vettel is half a car length to the left of his grid spot. The lights go out and away we go. Lewis Hamilton has kept the lead with Vettel holding off Valtteri Bottas for 2nd. Daniel Ricciardo manages to get past Kimi Raikkonen into 3rd place. The onboard camera cuts to Lance Stroll who goes through turn 9 with a problem and then. Bang. Entering turn 10, Stroll is hit on the left rear tyre. He half spins and ends up beached in the gravel and becomes the first retirement of the race. The replay shows that Sergio Perez hit Stroll. The VSC is called out.

The Stewards declare that Sebastian Vettel is under investigation for being out of his grid position. Nico Hulkenberg pits at the end of lap 1. The race has been neutralised with Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso being the biggest gainers off the start. Verstappen is now 7th with Alonso behind in 8th. Lap 3, Vettel, Daniil Kvyat, Alonso, Felipe Massa and a couple more drivers pit. Crucially, Vettel goes onto the Soft tyre and rejoins in 6th. Jolyon Palmer spins at turn 1. He rejoins the track.

Lap 4, Antonio Giovinazzi has crashed on the start/finish straight. The replay shows that Giovinazzi lost the car on the damp patch. The car pulled to the right and there was nothing for Giovinazzi to stop it. Due to this, the Safety Car has been called out. The SC leads the cars through the pit-lane as there a substantial amount of debris on the track. Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen and Verstappen pit. Hamilton, Bottas and Raikkonen go onto the Soft tyre while Verstappen goes onto the Supersoft tyre. Ricciardo pits as the SC leads the cars back through the pits on the next lap. He doesn’t lose any places and remains 2nd now on the Supersoft tyre.

Lewis Hamilton leads ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen, Valterri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel. The Stewards are not taking any action against Vettel being out of place at the start of the race. But the Stewards are looking into the incident between Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll. Bottas has now dropped to 5th place after the round of pit-stops. Why, well he was held up by teammate Lewis Hamilton, changing tyres first.  Bottas’s day goes from bad to worse as he spins between turn 10 and 11. He drops to 12th. A lot of work to do if he wants to be near the top 5. Lap 8, the SC comes in.

Max Verstappen is on a charge as he overtakes Kimi Raikkonen round the outside of turn 7. Verstappen is now 3rd and is chasing teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The Stewards confirm that there will be no further action between Sergio Perez or Lance Stroll. Lap 11, Verstappen overtakes Ricciardo going into turn 6. A late lunge by the Dutchman moves himself up into 2nd place. Lap 16, Nico Hulkenberg has received a 5 second time penalty combined with a 10 second time penalty for overtaking under the VSC and the SC. Lap 19, Stoffel Vandoorne’s race is over as McLaren report a fuel issue.

Lap 20, Sebastian Vettel has now overtaken teammate Kimi Raikkonen who has been held up by Daniel Ricciardo for a number of laps now. Vettel lunged down the inside of turn 6 and is now chasing Ricciardo. Lap 21, Sergio Perez pits and goes onto the Supersoft tyre. Lap 22, Vettel is right up behind Ricciardo and goes round the outside of Ricciardo into turn 6. Despite locking up, Vettel gets a good exit and is alongside Ricciardo. The pair rub wheels and Vettel gets ahead going into turn 7 and is now up into 3rd place. Just before, Vettel overtook Ricciardo, Daniil Kvyat pulled over due to a suspected hydraulic issue.

Lap 26, Valterri Bottas overtakes Fernando Alonso for 7th place just before turn 14. Lap 28, Max Verstappen has Sebastian Vettel right behind him and the pressure gets to the Red Bull driver as he has a massive lock-up into turn 14. He goes off the track and Vettel gets past into 2nd place. The lock-up allows Daniel Ricciardo to catch up to the back of Verstappen. Lap 30, Carlos Sainz pits for the first time this race. He started on the Supersoft tyre and was the only driver to gamble between the Slicks or the Intermediate tyre. He goes onto the Soft tyre. Verstappen pits and he goes onto another set of the Supersoft tyres. Lap 33, Verstappen now overtakes Bottas for 5th place into turn 6.

Lap 34, Daniel Ricciardo pits, going onto another set of the Supersoft tyre. Fernando Alonso’s amazing race so far has come to a close as the McLaren Honda slows. Lap 35, Sebastian Vettel pits going onto the Soft tyre and rejoins in 3rd. Lap 36, Valterri Bottas pits also going onto the Soft tyre. At the end of lap 36, race leader, Lewis Hamilton pits. He goes onto the Softy tyre and rejoins in 2nd for now. Lap 39, having just made a pit-stop, Romain Grosjean overtakes Nico Hulkenberg into turn 6. The Frenchman dives to the inside and moves up into 12th place. Lap 40, Kimi Raikkonen pits from the lead. He goes onto the Supersoft tyre and rejoins in 6th. His job now is to catch the Red Bull drivers ahead of him.

Lewis Hamilton leads ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz, Kimi Raikkonen and Valterri Bottas. Lap 41, Raikkonen overtakes Sainz into turn 14 with Bottas overtaking Sainz on lap 44, also at turn 14. Lap 49, Kevin Magnussen overtakes Sergio Perez into turn 14. The Dane is now in 8th place and is on course to score good points for Haas. Lap 56, Ricciardo has been behind teammate Verstappen for a few laps now and his last attempt into turn 14 doesn’t pay off as he locks-up into the heavy breaking zone. Hamilton wins ahead of Vettel and Verstappen.

Race Results

1.Hamilton  2.Vettel  3.Verstappen  4.Ricciardo  5.Raikkonen  6.Bottas  7.Sainz  8.Magnussen  9.Perez  10.Ocon  11.Grosjean  12.Hulkenberg  13.Palmer  14.Massa  15.Ericsson  DNF Alonso, Kvyat, Vandoorne, Giovinazzi and Stroll

Race Stats

  • Lewis Hamilton’s win was his fifth in China. Mercedes meanwhile have now won five of the last six races in Shanghai.
  • Sebastian Vettel scored his fifth Chinese podium and with Hamilton is now level pegging with the Brit at the top of the drivers’ standings.
  • Max Verstappen scored his 8th career podium with 3rd place. It was also Red Bull’s 100th GP.
  • Kevin Magnussen achieved his best finish since last year’s race in Russia as he picked up his first points for new team Haas in 8th.

Drivers Championship

  1. Sebastian Vettel 43pts
  2. Lewis Hamilton 43pts
  3. Max Verstappen 25pts
  4. Valterri Bottas 23pts
  5. Kimi Raikkonen 22pts
  6. Daniel Ricciardo 12pts
  7. Carlos Sainz 10pts
  8. Felipe Massa 8pts
  9. Sergio Perez 8pts
  10. Kevin Magnussen 4pts

Constructors Championship

  1. Ferrari 37pts
  2. Mercedes 33pts
  3. Red Bull 37pts
  4. Torro Rosso 12pts
  5. Force India 10pts
  6. Williams 8pts
  7. Haas 4pts
  8. Renault 0pts
  9. Sauber 0pts
  10. McLaren 0pts
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