Hamilton cruises to Chinese GP victory
Hamilton dominated in Shanghai   Credit: Getty Images

Hamilton cruises to Chinese GP victory

Mercedes completed a third consecutive one-two of the 2019 season as Lewis Hamilton climbed to the top of the world championship

Jaquob Crooke

In Formula One's landmark 1000th race, it was somewhat fitting that the most decorated driver on the grid would dominate from start to finish and move himself to the top of the standings for the first time this season.

The 2019 Chinese Grand Prix was no thriller by any means, but for Mercedes it proved to be another successful Sunday outing as Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his second win of the season, with his team-mate Valterri Bottas following behind in second to secure the Silver Arrows their third consecutive one-two.

Sebastian Vettel's first podium of the 2019 campaign was mired in team order controversy after he was ordered to overtake Charles Leclerc on Lap 11, with the Monegasque reluctantly complying. But more importantly for Ferrari, there was an alarming consensus around the paddock that their race pace was no match in comparison to their main title rivals Mercedes.

Max Verstappen finished fourth for Red Bull, who's strategic tinkering proved to be successful in the splitting of the Ferrari's, but unsuccessful in their quest for a podium as they were unable to unnerve Vettel's resolve.

Clean start for Hamilton

After hooking up a cleaner start than that of his team-mate Bottas, Hamilton edged into the lead through Turn 1 and it proved to be the defining moment in the race as Bottas had no answer to the five-time World Champion’s pace.

Further down the field, an incident between Daniil Kvyat and the two McLaren's prompted a brief Virtual Safety Car deployment, as Kvyat's Toro Rosso caught a brief rear-end twitch, bouncing off Carlos Sainz's McLaren and then interlocking wheels with Sainz's teammate Lando Norris, who was quite dramatically pitched into the air.

In the aftermath of the VSC, Hamilton edged away from the chasing pack at around half a second a lap and pulled out a healthy lead over the frontrunners.

In response to Mercedes' increasing lead, Ferrari ordered Leclerc to allow team-mate Vettel to pass on Lap 11, and despite protesting furiously over the radio, Leclerc eventually acquiesced to enable the German to move into third and chase the Mercedes duo.

However, Vettel did little to justify the move with a few scruffy errors in the laps that followed and as a result, Ferrari had wasted valuable time in a decision that yielded hardly any team benefit.

Verstappen undercut

With the two Ferrari's squabbling for position, Red Bull took full advantage of the unfolding situation and performed the undercut by pitting Verstappen on Lap 17 by stopping for a fresh set of hard tyres.

The Dutch sensations blistering out-lap seen him leapfrog Leclerc and forced Ferrari into pitting Vettel in order to cover off the threat of a charging RB15. Leclerc pitted four laps later but re-joined a distant fifth, losing time that he was unable to recover.

Verstappen meanwhile made an audacious move on Vettel's Ferrari shortly after the stops, but the Red Bull eventually struggled to match the pace of the Ferrari and Verstappen had to settle for fourth - his 12th consecutive top five finish.

Pierre Gasly's dismal weekend dwindled into a lonesome sixth place finish, although the Frenchman's confidence would have been given a slight boost after he chalked up the fastest lap of the race, earning him the additional bonus point.

Ricciardo best of the rest

Last year's Chinese GP race victor Daniel Ricciardo completed his first race since making the switch from Red Bull to Renault. The Australian had run the medium tyre for a race-high 37 laps in his second stint, holding off Racing Point's Sergio Perez to finish seventh and best of the rest. It wasn't such a great afternoon for teammate Nico Hulkenberg who retired in the early stages with an unknown issue.

The consistency of Kimi Raikkonen once again delivered points for Alfa Romeo, as the Finn came home in ninth while Alexander Albon recovered tremendously from his crash in final practice - which forced him to start from the pit-lane - to take 10th and another championship point, earning official 'Driver of the Day' honours from F1 fans in the process.

It was a weekend to forget for Haas who never looked competitive during race simulation on Friday and failed to set a lap in Q3 on Saturday. Romain Grosjean finished the race in 11th, ahead of Lance Stroll in the second Racing Point and teammate Kevin Magnussen.

Carlos Sainz finished a further nine seconds back for McLaren in 14th, only ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi and the Williams drivers.