Chinese GP: Hamilton eases to win in action packed race

Lewis Hamilton was unheaded in a dry Chinese Grand Prix, coming home to score his third Formula 1 career Grand Chelem, after posting fastest lap, in addition to his pole position yesterday. 

The Mercedes was relatively untroubled during the race, with most of the action taking place behind him, and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel after he broke free from the pack which included a tense battle for third late on between Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, which the Dutchman just about hung on for. 

Kimi Raikkonen drove an angry race to fifth, complaining of engine issues and that Ferrari kept him out for too long before making a second stop, something that was vindicated by him closing in rapidly on the squabling Red Bull's late on. 

Valtteri Bottas had a subdued afternoon, recovering from a spin under the early safety car to come home sixth, but nearly 50 seconds down on the race winner. Team boss Toto Wolff told the Finn after the race, in no uncertain terms that a better performance is expected next week in Bahrain. 

The points scoring positions were rounded out by Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and the Force India team-mates of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.

Tricky conditions at lights out 

Pre-race, it was unknown whether the Intermediate's were the best tyre to start on. or whether the slick dry tyres would be the best option. 

Of the 20 drivers, only Sainz and Jolyon Palmer opted for slicks, a decision that seemed to go wrong immediately as the Toro Rosso bogged down at lights out and then spun at Turn 2. 

Further round the opening lap at Turn 10, Perez looked up the inside of Lance Stroll's Williams, and spun the Canadian into the gravel and retirement.

The Virtual Safety Car was called to neutralise the race while the stricken FW40 was cleared, and many took the option to pit-in and change for slicks, as the inters were beginning to burn out. 

Ferrari pitted Vettel, and he dropped down to sixth, which would later prove costly as Antonio Giovinazzi once again lost control of the Sauber on the pit-straight and cannoned into the pit-wall and brought out the full safety car. 

Antonio Giovinazzi repeated his trick from qualifying and brought out the Safety Car. (Image Credit: Lars Boden/ Getty Images)
Antonio Giovinazzi repeated his trick from qualifying and brought out the Safety Car. (Image Credit: Lars Baron/ Getty Images)

Those who hadn't pitted, including Hamilton and Ricciardo did so, and fitted the soft and supersoft tyres respectivly. 

After the safety car had gone in, Verstappen, who had risen from 16th to seventh on the opening lap, lunged up the inside of a slow Ricciardo at Turn 6 and set off after Hamilton, with the gap standing around 1.8 seconds, until the Mercedes began to ease away as the track dried even more. 

Ricciardo then played rear-gunner for Verstappen, until Vettel decided to make a move himself, and went around the outside of Ricciardo at Turn 6 again, and banged wheels with the Australian before hunting down Verstappen. 

As the German began to reel in the Dutchman, hopes of a wheel-to-wheel battle between the two were dashed when Verstappen severely locked up at the Turn 14 hairpin, and was forced to pit in a couple of laps later.

After this, Hamilton and Vettel eased off into the distance and were untroubled for the remainder of the Grand Prix, with both making another stop, owing to the strong pace Verstappen was showing on his fresh tyres. 

The gap between the two was 6.250 seconds at the flag, although Hamilton was slightly miffed how Vettel took four seconds out his lead. 

Attention toward the end of the race  was on the battle for third, with Ricciardo trying all he could to pass his team-mate for the podium, but he couldn't make a move, which included a late lunge on the final lap at the hairpin. Verstappen, feeling the pressure, was trying to get Romain Grosjean out of the way, using blue flags, but was told he wasn't close enough. 

Verstappen's move for second on Ricciardo at Turn 6 would later prove crucial as it secured home a podium finish from P17. (Image Credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images)
Verstappen's move for second on Ricciardo at Turn 6 would later prove crucial as it secured him a podium finish from P17. (Image Credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Sainz stars

Star of the race, aside from offical Driver of the Day Max Verstappen, was Sainz. 

Despite having a power deficit to the Ferrari's and Red Bull's, Sainz was able to keep on the tails of the leading quintet after Bottas's spin, before engaging a brief duel with Fernando Alonso but the McLaren soon dropped out with a driveshaft issue.

Magnussen brought the Haas home for a solid haul of points, which included moves on the Force India pair who came home behind him to make it two double-points races in a row.

As DRS was not as strong as expected, drivers were forced to be more imanginative with their overtakes, and as a result, there were many organic moves, with Grosjean going around the outside of Felipe Massa at Turn 1 being just one example.

Out of the points were Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg, Palmer, Massa and Marcus Ericsson won the wooden spoon award, finishing 15th and last.

Hulkenberg was given 15 seconds worth of penalties, after overtaking under the VSC for which he earned a five second penalty, before also being found guilty of overtaking under the full safety car, which saw an extra 10 seconds added to his race time. 

Retirements 

In all, there were five retirements, with Alonso being joined by McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in retirement, with a fuel pressure problem while Danill Kvyat lost hydraullics in his Toro Rosso.

Giovinazzi and Stroll were the othe two drivers not to be classified. 

2017 Chinese Grand Prix - Race Classification

Position Driver Team Time/Gap Points
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:37:36.158 25
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +6.250 18
3. Max Verstappen Red Bull  +45.192 15
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull  +46.035 12
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +48.076 10
6. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +48.808 8
7. Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso  +72.893 6
8. Kevin Magnussen Haas + 1 lap 4
9. Sergio Perez Force India  + 1 lap  2
10.  Esteban Ocon Force India  +1 lap 1
11. Romain Grosjean Haas + 1 lap

0

12. Nico Hulkenberg Renault + 1 lap 0
13. Jolyon Palmer  Renault  + 1 lap   0
14.  Felipe Massa Williams  + 1 lap 0
15. Marcus Ericsson Sauber  + 1 lap 0
NC Fernando Alonso McLaren Suspension 0
NC Danill Kvyat  Toro Rosso Hydraullics 0
NC Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Fuel pressure 0
NC Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber Accident 0
NC Lance Stroll Williams Collision 0
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