|Hamilton ties Vettel with win|
Lewis Hamilton made a perfect start from pole position on a wet track and led the Chinese GP start to finish for his 5th Chinese GP win and move into a tie with Sebastian Vettel for the points lead.
Vettel maintained second to Lewis Hamilton during a damp opening phase at Shanghai and opted to pit early for slicks, under the Virtual Safety Car, only for his rivals to profit when the Safety Car was deployed.
Vettel dropped back to sixth place, but inherited fifth prior to the restart when Valtteri Bottas spun along the straight between Turns 10 and 11.
Vettel eventually cleared teammate Kimi Raikkonen, before passing Daniel Ricciardo, via a touch of wheels, on the run to Turn 7, and Max Verstappen when the Dutchman locked up into the hairpin.
"The Intermediates had a lot of degradation, it was very dry in some parts of the track so I knew they wouldn't last," said Vettel.
"I was happy to take the risk, with the Virtual Safety Car you save a bit of time doing the pit-stop, then the Safety Car came just when I was starting to feel the dry tyres were a lot quicker.
"I couldn't use the advantage and obviously I lost a lot of positions, then I had an exciting race, stuck a little bit in the train for a while, then I finally made a move.
"I tried to chase Lewis down as much as possible, every time I had the feeling, every time I put a lap in he was able to respond.
"We were a good match, it could have been a different race, but it was good recovery."
Vettel also discussed his move on former team-mate Ricciardo through Turns 6/7, as the pair touched wheels, before Vettel claimed the position.
"My target was to catch Lewis and I was stuck behind the train, I was getting a bit angry, annoyed, and I wanted to get by," he said.
"I had the feeling that I can go a lot faster in these conditions, and when I was behind Daniel I saw him blocking down the inside as I had a good run out of Turn 4.
"I said, 'OK, I have to try and around the outside [of Turn 6]', I braked really late and hard, and fortunately he didn't lock up.
"Then on the exit I was a bit compromised, on the dirt, I got my elbows out, he really squeezed me but it was good fun and I had the inside for the next corner."
Kimi Raikkonen barely held off Valteri Bottas for 5th in the second Ferrari.
On a damp but drying track, Hamilton led away from pole at the start, with everyone bar Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz on intermediate tires. Sainz quickly rued that gamble, spinning off on Lap 1 and then needlessly brushing the wall as he made his way back onto the circuit.
The Virtual Safety Car was deployed on Lap 2 after contact between Williams' Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez's Force India left the former's car beached in the gravel.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Two laps later the safety car proper was out, after Antonio Giovinazzi suffered his second heavy crash in as many days. This time the Italian looked to be blameless, his car aquaplaning into the pit wall on the main straight.
By the time the debris was cleared and safety car withdrawn, the entire field had made the move to slick tires and on Lap 8 the battle was on once more, with Hamilton leading Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Verstappen – already up to fourth, having started 16th, Vettel and Alonso.
As the race developed, both Verstappen and Vettel made crucial passes on their respective team mates, while Vettel went wheel-to-wheel with former partner Ricciardo as he pulled off another sublime move to get ahead of the Red Bull.
|Raikkonen holds up Vettel. Once past he beat Raikkonen by 40 seconds|
With Hamilton safe up front, Vettel then hunted down Verstappen, who on Lap 29 made a rare error, locking up and running wide into the Turn 14 hairpin, allowing the Ferrari past into second place.
By then Hamilton had a margin which Vettel never looked likely to overcome, and the three-time champion took the checkered flag with a 6.2s advantage, having led all of the 56 laps. Verstappen was a distant third, having fended off considerable pressure from team mate Ricciardo in the closing stages.
Kimi Raikkonen was fifth for Ferrari, ahead of Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz. Haas's Kevin Magnussen and the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon completed the top ten.
In addition to Stroll and Giovinazzi, the other non-finishers were Stoffel Vandoorne, who pitted with fuel issues on his McLaren on Lap 19; Daniil Kvyat, who pulled his Toro Rosso off track on Lap 20; and Fernando Alonso, who stopped his McLaren on Lap 35.
My pole lap put me in a great position and then the start was just fantastic. I'm really happy with my starts right now so I want to keep that up! During the race I needed to keep my composure in some really tricky conditions out there. After the pit stop under the Safety Car the speed was low and the tires were very cold, so it would have been very easy to make a mistake, so I'm just grateful that I didn't. In those final 20 laps Seb and I were just pounding around as fast as we could, exchanging fastest lap times, that's what racing is all about. In the future there will be times when we don't have a Safety Car and we won't have that gap. I'm excited for that. It's very close and there were times when it was hard to match Sebastian. It has been a fantastic weekend and I'm so grateful for the effort the team has put in for us to be where we are today. It's very overwhelming when you have a weekend like this, because I'm just a single link in the chain and there are hundreds of people who are involved to put me up here on the top step. Big congratulations to everyone, especially those back home, I hope they're celebrating and feeling the spirit and the fight.
I'm very disappointed with today. I made a good start but it didn't go so well from there. Yes, we lost some time in the pit stop but it was nothing compared to what we lost with my mistake. I was trying everything I could to get temperature in the tires behind the Safety Car but went too aggressive and lost control of the car. It was entirely my fault. I'm really sorry for the team and the points we lost today. It took few laps to get the tires working after the spin but in the end my pace was okay. I think we made the right choice sticking with the Soft tire for the second stint. The car was good today – a winning car, obviously. But the laps were running out as I was getting closer to the cars in front and I couldn't recover enough of the time I lost. I'm leaving for Bahrain tonight and I'm glad the next race comes soon. Once you've done a mistake it's done, so you try to forget it and do everything you can to make up for it next time, so I will take a look in the mirror at myself and come back stronger.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
This was a great drive by Lewis and a great result. Pace-wise, things looked pretty good out there today in all conditions, although there wasn't much between us and Ferrari when we were running in free air. For Lewis, it was a pretty drama-free afternoon: he was managing the pace in the right way, our strategy was spot on and, on an afternoon when there was lots of scope for making mistakes, he didn't put a foot wrong. As for Valtteri, his spin behind the Safety Car was unfortunate and cost him a lot of time. Mistakes like this happen but it was encouraging to see he had the pace in the car after that and could at least battle back to the position he held before the spin. Now he needs to forget about it and concentrate on the next race. Overall it's now 1:1 for us against Ferrari and the development race is on. This is just the beginning…
James Allison, Technical Director
Every single victory in Formula 1 feels great but this one is particularly satisfying after coming away from Melbourne without the win – it's nice to get that monkey off our back. Our strategy calls were all tidily executed in what was a complicated race early on with the wet-dry track. Lewis drove faultlessly today but Valtteri unfortunately paid a heavy price for a small mistake behind the Safety Car. He raced well from that point forwards but his Grand Prix was heavily compromised by his early spin. We head to Bahrain on a high but we know we will be back to square one in terms of fighting a very strong opposition. We know that we will have to be absolutely on top of our game to do well there. All focus now on the next race and trying to repeat this great result.
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: 3rd, Start Position: 16th
"That was a very special race. When I woke up this morning I never expected to be on the podium. It was a very good first lap, I passed nine cars I think which is very positive. The conditions really helped me get past the cars as quick as I could, that was important as I knew it would only dry up and get tougher to pass. I always enjoy driving in the wet so I made the most of the fun conditions early on. I think in the first eleven laps I got up to seventh place which set me up for a strong finish. We were a bit unsure of how the balance of the car would be towards the end of the race as I didn't run much yesterday in Qualifying and the temperature is a lot lower today. We had quite a bit of understeer but just about managed to hold on to third place. These balance issues combined with being within two seconds of another car in the closing stages of the race made it really hard to drive, there were blue flags out but I still couldn't get past, this needs looking into. The battle with Daniel at the end was hard as my car was not fun to defend in. I'm glad we hung on and obviously it was a great race to watch and for the team. I think on pure pace in the dry we are still a bit slow for a podium but all things considered today we definitely MAXED it out."
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 5th
"I have mixed emotions, it's obviously disappointing to miss out on the podium as it was so close today but as a team it's a good result to finish third and fourth. I lost a lot of time in the first stint as I struggled to keep my front tires alive and that pretty much put us out of a podium position. After the first pit stop I had good balance and speed which meant I could claw some time back and close the gap to the leaders. Towards the end of the race I could see that Max was struggling with his tires but as soon as I got close to him I also began to struggle with mine. The team let us race but even though I was in the DRS zone I was not really close enough to pull off a convincing move. I had a look but the inside lines were still quite slippery into the hairpin and I was honestly never really close enough to make a move stick. It was also quite noticeable that the DRS effect is far less on the cars this year which didn't help.
"As a team we should be pleased with the result and we learnt a lot today but we still have some work to do to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari."
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: "A great performance by the team today, taking advantage of the slippery conditions at the beginning of the race Max was able to make a great start and had an amazing first lap to come round in seventh and from there both drivers were in great shape. The right strategic calls under the safety car allowed us then to get our cars into second and third ahead of both Ferraris. Great work from the pit crew today. Max then made a fair move on Daniel and looked strong at the point in the race. Daniel held off the Ferraris as long as he could before Sebastian was able to get past. As we'd elected to go with the supersoft tire for us it always going to be a two-stop race. We then picked the right moment to go on to the supersofts and in the latter part of the race Daniel was happier with his car balance and closed down on Max and some great racing between the two of them over the last 10 laps provided an exciting finish to the grand prix. To come away third and fourth is a very positive result, and we also achieved our 100th podium as a team. Still plenty to do, but leaving China with 27 points is extremely positive."
"Yesterday was a bit of a joke and today the same guy crashed in front of me on the straight line, so I had to stop. I lost a lot of time. Then (Marcus) Ericsson at the restart left miles ahead of the car in front of me. I don't know what he was doing, so I was already on the back foot. (Esteban) Ocon pushed me on the first lap. I lost half of the right-hand side of the car. From there I just pushed as hard as I could. I couldn't really find an opening on (Jolyon) Palmer. Once I did, though, I had some good lap times. We were doing a decent job, but it was already too late. It was not easy on strategy. The guys did the best job they could. We saw the checkered flag and the lap times were looking decent. I think we had more, but it's time to look forward to the next race and, hopefully, it's going to get better."
"It was a good race. I had fun out there. I had a good car all the way through the race. I'd made a really poor start, so to come back from that and push, I was really happy. The car's been good today. I was able to look after the front tires, which I think was key, along with working with the team to get the car in the right window. The race was really well managed from the team. It was good strategy to get me out on the supersoft after the intermediates. You had to fight for it, in terms of passing. It's not easy, but you also have grip, so you can take different lines and get close in alternative ways. It's so much more fun when you're fighting in the points. I'm happy for the team and we're looking forward to the coming races."
"It's great to see Kevin's team scoring their first points since the start of Haas F1 Team. For Kevin to score points on his second race is fantastic. I think Romain had a challenging weekend. In Australia it was Kevin's turn to have a challenging weekend and here it was Romain, though he wasn't lucky in Australia either. Again, I think we showed what we can do and that we are what we think we are. We just have to do it consistently. We can then look to a good season in front of us. Both drivers drove a fantastic race. I think we did more overtaking between the Haas team than the rest of the teams. I'm very proud of that, and we put on a good show. For sure, the weather played a role today, but with the different strategies applied, overtaking is possible. It's still difficult – that was proved with Romain trying to get around (Jolyon) Palmer – he made sure he was wide, but then Romain got by. It just got better from then onward. The flight home will feel a lot shorter with points in the bag. Now, we look forward to going to Bahrain."
Maurizio Arrivabene (Ferrari): "Today, on a track and in conditions which were very different from those we had in Melbourne, we proved that we have a strong car. Sebastian drove a very good race, and the fact that the safety car came out right after his first tire change certainly didn't help. Perhaps, without that interruption, the result could have been even better. Now all the team is already focused onto the next race in Bahrain."
Sebastian Vettel: "We can be happy with today's results. The race was a lot of fun, very entertaining. Conditions were tricky at the start, you never know what can happen in those moments, so I was perhaps a bit too conservative. Then we chose to change tires since the track was quickly drying out, so that we could take advantage from the slicks; but luck was not on our side as the safety car came in right after. I can't say how much this affected the final result, it was still a long way from there to the finish, but I think it had an effect. From then I had to work my way through the field, and I had a tense wheel-to-wheel fight with Ricciardo. I like this way of overtaking, when gaining position comes at a price and not simply by opening up the DRS. At that moment though, the gap to Lewis had widened, and I kept pushing to keep some pressure on him, while asking my engineer what pace was needed for me to catch him. I think that pace-wise we were a match today, sometimes he was faster, sometimes I was: if we can fight with Mercedes also in Bahrain that will be again good news. We can still improve."
Kimi Raikkonen: "It was not a very strong race, the car felt good with fresh tires, but we seemed to lose the front very quickly and I was struggling; in a place like this that's very tricky and gives a lot of laptime away. I feel that, even with that, we should have had a better result: maybe we could have changed the tires a bit earlier, but it's always easy to speak after the race, now we have look at the data and understand. This result is far from ideal but this is what we have got today, hopefully next week we can make things better."
SERGIO PEREZ It feels great to come away from an entertaining race with some more points. The start of the race was not easy because I made a very poor start and lost five or six places before turn one. As soon as I dropped the clutch, I went into wheel spin. I recovered some places during lap one, but then there was contact with Stroll in turn ten, which gave me a puncture. I don’t think he saw me on the inside because he didn’t give me any space. We definitely made the switch to dry tires at the right moment and choosing the supersoft was the correct decision because I found a good rhythm straight away and overtook Massa and Kvyat. You can always look back on the strategy and see things you could have done better, but I think we finished where we deserved in terms of car pace. It’s another great result for the whole team and our twelfth consecutive race in the points, which is a special achievement."
ESTEBAN OCON "Finishing the race in the top ten is a good recovery, but I still feel I could have been a couple of places higher up. We had the correct strategy and started the race on the right tire, but on lap two there was a misunderstanding with the team and I drove all the way down the pit lane without stopping for tires. I was not supposed to come in and it cost me at least 15 seconds. It was a result of the confusion of those early laps, when everyone was diving into the pits. It’s a shame to lose time like this, but in the end we scored a point and that’s a positive. The car felt quite good today and finishing in tenth shows we can make a good improvement on Sundays. Next week we race in Bahrain and, unlike Melbourne and Shanghai, it’s a track I know well and where I’ve had success in the past. I got pole in GP3 in 2015 so I have good memories from there. I am looking forward to racing there and adding to those memories."
ROBERT FERNLEY, FORCE INDIA DEPUTY TEAM PRINCIPAL “The first few laps were fairly hectic, but as things settled down the team managed the race extremely well to earn another double points finish. Sergio and Esteban both delivered mature drives, especially in the tricky damp conditions early on. Their varied strategies worked well, although with hindsight there were possible opportunities that would have allowed both cars to finish higher up. Both drivers enjoyed some close wheel-to-wheel racing and managed their pace when it mattered. All in all it’s another solid result and we can be happy about scoring more important points at this early stage of the year."
Marcus Ericsson “I had a good start as well as a decent first lap. During the virtual safety car phase we were changing to soft tires, even though we knew that the track was partly dry as well as still wet. After that, it was quite difficult. The conditions were tricky as well as the asphalt temperatures being relatively low, which made it difficult to get the tires to work. Overall, I struggled with the tires during the whole race – I never really got them into the right working window. Now I look forward to Bahrain."
Antonio Giovinazzi “First of all, I want to apologize again to the team. They did a great job to get the car ready for the race. It was a shame that I crashed again today. A learning lesson – I just want to forget this weekend quickly."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: “Today it was not our day – especially not for Antonio. We are glad that he is fine after the accident. The conditions were difficult, even more so without having much experience. For Marcus the race was also not easy, as we were just not able to keep up with the pace of the competitors – this race showed the weaknesses of our car. Now we focus on the next race weekend in Bahrain in one week."
Paddy Lowe, Williams Chief Technical Officer: It was a tough day for us. It was always going to be a difficult and long afternoon in these mixed conditions. Unfortunately, Lance’s race ended very quickly after being hit from behind at Turn 10, which was a shame after his strong qualifying result yesterday. On Felipe’s side, it was an incredibly painful afternoon and he was lacking in grip throughout. There are lots of things we would have done differently with hindsight. I think everyone was planning on a one-stop race with dry tires but almost the entire field needed to do an extra stop. Unfortunately, we just weren’t able to show the real pace of the car today, so there’s a lot of work and analysis we need to do back at base in order to come back stronger in future. These are the days where we need to convert our disappointment into constructive development.
Felipe Massa: I’m really disappointed today as everything went wrong for us. I had too much wheelspin at the start, and then behind the safety car we had five slow laps on the dry tires, so they were completely cold. I wasn’t able to drive in the proper way because it felt like I was driving on ice. That was the worst part; we lost so much time and so many positions. Then we tried to risk stopping before the others to see if we could pass people and keep up the pace, but I couldn’t. We need to carry on trying to do what we did in the first race in Australia and qualifying here. Now we will look forward and concentrate on Bahrain.
Lance Stroll: I was hit from the rear at Turn 10 and that was the end of my race. I was in front, knew the corner was mine and had to turn in eventually. It was just unfortunate as that was my race over. I got hit and then the car was broken, most likely with a puncture and damaged suspension. While today was difficult, we have some positives to take out of this weekend, as the qualifying was good even if the race was not what we wanted. But it is still early days and there are a lot more opportunities. I am now looking forward to Bahrain next weekend and that is what I am concentrating on now.
Carlos Sainz “WOW! What a race, I just don’t have words to describe it! On the grid I said I wanted to start the race on slick tyres and everyone thought I was completely mad! It sounds like a funny moment now, but when everyone took the blankets off the tyres and my race engineer told me that we were the only ones the supersoft tyre I doubted my decision… When you’re on the grid, about to start a race, and you take a tough decision like today’s, there’s a lot of weight on your shoulders, knowing that you might have blown away a good result for the team… but I then said to myself, c’mon trust yourself, it’s the right thing to do! I knew the start and the first four corners were going to be very tricky – and they certainly were! – but from Turn 6 onwards the track was fully dry and I felt confident – the gamble definitely paid off! But today’s result isn’t only thanks to this decision; it’s also down to the pace that we showed in damp conditions. After the Safety Car, I saw myself catching Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes in front and I got super excited! It was just an incredible race, I felt so comfortable in the car today and to finally cross the line in P7 is a great result – I’d like to thank the team for the whole weekend, we can all be very happy!"
Daniil Kvyat “What a shame, we had a hydraulic failure which still needs to be investigated and therefore had to stop the car. Just before that, we were struggling a bit on the Soft tyre and it was a bit hard to keep them up to temperature… So we were an easy target for everyone who was on Supersofts. It wasn’t being the easiest of races, that’s for sure! On the positive side, we’ve shown the performance is there and that we can be strong going forward. We just need to make sure we grab the points when the opportunities arise. In general I’m quite happy, it’s just a shame we had a bit of bad luck today but these things happen and we just have to accept them… it’s part of this sport! We’re working well as a team – and this makes me feel very confident – we have the pace and I look forward to next week’s race weekend in Bahrain where we will come back stronger!"
Franz Tost (Team Principal) “We saw a very interesting and exciting race today. First of all, I’d like to congratulate Carlos for his very risky decision – he was the only car with dry tyres on the starting grid! He drove a fantastic race and crossed the line in P7. Without the Safety Cars, I think he would’ve achieved an even better result… he certainly would have deserved it! It was great to see how he was fighting with the front runners. Regarding Daniil, he got off to a very solid start and was also able to fight for positions but unfortunately his car had a hydraulic problem. This is something that must not happen when you want to fight for a good position in the Constructors’ Championship. Nevertheless, we have a competitive package and I’m positive that we can also score many points in the next races – this is what we will go for with big determination."
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||56||+45.192s|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||56||+46.035s|
|7||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||56||+72.893s|
|8||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||55||+1 lap|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||55||+1 lap|
|10||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||55||+1 lap|
|11||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||55||+1 lap|
|12||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||55||+1 lap|
|13||30||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||55||+1 lap|
|14||19||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||55||+1 lap|
|15||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||55||+1 lap|
|NC||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||33||DNF|
|NC||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||18||DNF|
|NC||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda||17||DNF|
|NC||36||Antonio Giovinazzi||Sauber Ferrari||3||DNF|
|NC||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||0||DNF|
|1||Sebastian Vettel VET||GER||Ferrari||43|
|2||Lewis Hamilton HAM||GBR||Mercedes||43|
|3||Max Verstappen VER||NED||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||25|
|4||Valtteri Bottas BOT||FIN||Mercedes||23|
|5||Kimi Raikkonen RAI||FIN||Ferrari||22|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo RIC||AUS||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||12|
|7||Carlos Sainz SAI||ESP||Toro Rosso||10|
|8||Felipe Massa MAS||BRA||Williams Mercedes||8|
|9||Sergio Perez PER||MEX||Force India Mercedes||8|
|10||Kevin Magnussen MAG||DEN||Haas Ferrari||4|
|11||Daniil Kvyat KVY||RUS||Toro Rosso||2|
|12||Esteban Ocon OCO||FRA||Force India Mercedes||2|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg HUL||GER||Renault||0|
|14||Romain Grosjean GRO||FRA||Haas Ferrari||0|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi GIO||ITA||Sauber Ferrari||0|
|16||Stoffel Vandoorne VAN||BEL||McLaren Honda||0|
|17||Jolyon Palmer PAL||GBR||Renault||0|
|18||Marcus Ericsson ERI||SWE||Sauber Ferrari||0|