Shanghai, April 9 (IANS) Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton delivered a commanding performance to win the Formula One World Championship’s Chinese Grand Prix, after starting from pole position at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday.
The British driver drove an impeccable race to score his fifth win at the Chinese GP, as he secured F1’s equivalent of the Grand Slam by registering the fastest race lap, qualifying in pole position and taking first place on Sunday, reports Efe.
“Today was very tough for us all. It was mostly dry at the start but a couple of wet corners,” Hamilton said at a press conference following the race.
It was the 54th F1 victory for Hamilton, who beat German Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) into second place, and Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), who took third place.
“A great job done by Vettel and this young dude Max. I’m so immensely proud of everyone in this team. We work so hard to make this possible,” Hamilton added.
Vettel said: “The safety car came just as I was about to start to feel the dry tyres were a lot quicker but then I had a very exciting race. I was stuck in the train for a little while but then tried to chase down Lewis Hamilton. It was a good match. It was good fun.”
Damp weather and low visibility had defined the weekend, causing the practice session to be canceled on Friday.
The treacherous conditions continued to wreak havoc in the early stages of the race at the Shanghai International Circuit, with two incidents in the opening laps bringing out the safety cars.
While Hamilton managed to steer clear of the early chaos, staying on intermediate tires, his German rival Vettel got caught after an early pit stop strategy failed to pan out when the second safety car came out following a crash by Antonio Giovinazzi (Sauber), bunching the pack together.
Vettel had emerged from the pit lanes behind traffic in fifth, and although he was able to reclaim second place after great moves on his former Red Bull teammate, Australian Daniel Ricciardo, and his current Ferrari teammate, Finnish Kimi Raikkonen, he never caused Hamilton any real concerns as the Briton maintained his gap throughout.
Sunday’s result appears to confirm early predictions that these two former world champions will be locked in an intense duel for the championship this season after Vettel took the season’s opening weekend ahead of Hamilton in Melbourne two weeks ago.
The race also confirms the prodigious talent of Red Bull’s young driver Verstappen, who surged through the field from 17th at the start to finish on the podium in third in damp, slick conditions.
“It was a very challenging race but I really enjoyed it. I think I overtook nine cars in the opening lap so it was a very good race for me,” Verstappen said.
Ricciardo took fourth place, followed by Raikkonen in fifth place and Bottas in sixth place.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) finished in seventh, while his compatriot Fernando Alonso failed to finish the race, continuing what has been a very difficult start to the season that has been dogged by troubles with his McLaren.
Kevin Magnussen (Haas) took eighth place, ahead of two Force India riders, Mexican Sergio Pérez and French Sebastian Ocon.
The third GP of the season, the Bahrain GP, will take place on Apr. 16 at the Sahkir circuit.