Lewis Hamilton has dominated the Chinese Grand Prix, leading from lights to flag to secure Mercedes their fourth victory of the year.
Hamilton’s team-mate Nico Rosberg fought back through the pack, after losing out at the start, to finish in second. This was Mercedes’ third 1-2 finish in as many races, and their fourth win from four races. It demonstrated their continued domination as other teams still try to get anywhere near them. Rosberg finished 18 seconds down on his team-mate with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso 23.6 seconds behind the race leader. It is Ferrari’s first podium and brings Alonso to third in the drivers championship – currently occupying the ‘best of the rest’ spot.
After a wet qualifying, it was a dry race from start to finish. There was some drama at the start as Felipe Massa made another banzai launch from the line, passing the Mercedes of Rosberg. As he swept across the track from right to left he made contact with Alonso, sending his car slightly airborne but both were able to continue. Massa was soon on the radio exclaiming “he crashed my car”. He later suffered a problem in the pitstop when his rear tyres were not ready and he faced a lengthy wait as the mechanics struggled to get the tyres on.
He went on to finish a lowly 15th place with his team-mate up in the points, finishing seventh and demonstrating where the car could be. While Alonso finished on the podium, Kimi Raikkonen finished in eighth place after struggling with the car all weekend. He had missed out on running in FP1 and so spent the rest of the weekend playing catch-up. There was some interesting inter-team battling going on at Red Bull with Daniel Ricciardo once again getting the better of his team-mate. While Sebastian Vettel initially had the lead on the road he was soon asked to let Ricciardo past. When it was revealed his team-mate was on the same tyres, Vettel’s response was “tough luck”, but Ricciardo eventually made it through. He ran out of laps at the end of the race and was unable to catch Alonso.
Both McLaren drivers finished outside the points, bemoaning their lack of downforce afterwards. Kevin Magnussen was the only driver to start on the prime tyres but he was unable to do anything with it. Jenson Button finished just outside the points in 11th place. It was another impressive finish for Daniil Kvyat who picked up his third points finish from three starts. His team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne lost positions at the start and was not able to regain them, so he finished in 12th after starting ninth. Both Force India drivers finished in the points with Sergio Perez, who was on the podium in Bahrain, coming through to ninth from 16th. Elsewhere there was disappointment for Romain Grosjean who, having qualified in the top ten, had to retire due to a gearbox problem. The other retirement from the race was Adrian Sutil who had an engine problem. He has not had the best luck this year and has had three retirements from four starts. Max Chilton secured his 23rd finish in a row, but was two laps down by the end of the race. Kamui Kobayashi pulled off a late move on Marussia’s Jules Bianchi but lost the position due to a flag blunder.
Hamilton was shown the chequered flag at the end of lap 55 (instead of 56) meaning that the results were declared from the end of lap 54. This meant Kobayashi’s late move was negated, giving the position back to Bianchi. It wasn’t the first mistake for the flag marshals as, on more than one occasion, blue flags were shown to the wrong driver.
There is now a three week break before the European season kicks off in Spain. Mercedes are sitting pretty at the top of both championships, with a 97 point lead over Red Bull.