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2014 Chinese F1 GP: Hamilton Completes Hat-Trick With Shanghai Win Photo:
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Peter Anderson | Apr, 20 2014 | 2 Comments

Lewis Hamilton put on a dominant performance at the front of the Chinese Grand Prix with a classic lights to flag victory. His teammate came home second after a faltering start and numerous minor problems with his car.

Ferrari finally came good after the resignation of team principal Stefano Domenicali, with Fernando Alonso making the podium for the first time in 2014.

Red Bull's drivers were at war, however, with Vettel telling his team over the radio that team orders aren't for him. Ricciardo passed him anyway.

 

PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING

Practice was a bit of a lottery but, tellingly, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso featured at or near the top, mixing it with the Mercedes cars. Raikkonen, by contrast, struggled.

Qualifying was changeable, but wet all the way through. Drivers gambled with full wets or intermediates depending on the way the rain was falling but the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado was in pieces, forcing him out of the session.

Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole but his teammate sagged under the pressure, spinning on his final lap and ending fourth. Daniel Ricciardo sensationally beat his teammate Vettel to the front row, the German a few tenths back.

Alonso was fifth but Kimi Raikkonen didn't even make Q3, along with both McLarens.

 

RACE

The sky may have been grey, but race day was dry, with a slightly higher temperature compared to the chilly, wet qualifying session.

When the lights went out, Hamilton leapt away but Ricciardo went with him. Vettel, though, fell victim to a rocketing start from Alonso.

Another of Alonso's victims was Felipe Massa, the Brazilian banging wheels with his former teammate after thinking heading between Vettel and Alonso would work out okay. The Williams took to the air but landed and Massa could fight on.

Rosberg had to battle Hulkenberg after a slow-ish start from the Mercedes driver, including running into Valtteri Bottas. Raikkonen jumped into ninth.

Hamilton took a two second lead over the first two laps, ensuring he was safe from Ricciardo.

Rosberg, who was likely kicking himself for chucking away a possible victory, could now only race for a podium.

Button pitted on lap 8 for medium compound tyres, the softer tyre burning up quickly on the McLaren. Vettel was left out by his team on the soft tyre, his fronts graining badly as the tyre cycled through its traditional second phase.

Grosjean pitted from a mildly surprising eighth place, again swapping softs for mediums. All up and down the field, those still on soft struggled with more and more cars understeering and locking up into the tighter corners.

Massa pitted from in front of Hulkenberg, forcing Ferrari to bring in Raikkonen at the same time. Massa's stop was achingly slow after a major problem with tyre fitment, the Brazilian shaking his head in disbelief

Alonso and Hulkenberg pitted on lap 12 as Hamilton steamed on, seemingly untroubled by the tyre problems of others.

Vettel pitted on lap 13, despite being behind behind Ricciardo. This dropped him back behind Kvyat who immediately ran wide and let Vettel through, but the German had lost his position to Alonso.

Rosberg was having a series of dramas - his telemetry was down, his tyres were graining and the team suspected his wing had a chunk of rubber stuck in it. He was put out of two of these miseries on lap fourteen.

Laps fifteen and sixteen were busy for passes - Kimi Raikkonen took twelfth from Grosjean with a scrappy pass and eleventh from Magnussen. Bottas passed Gutierrez and Force India's Perez went by his old teammate Jenson Button.

Ricciardo pitted three laps later than Vettel on lap 16 and before Hamilton - this put Ricciardo back to fifth, behind Vettel, Alonso and Rosberg. The McLaren of Magnussen was then rounded up by Grosjean in the rapidly-improving Lotus.

By the end of lap 17, Hamilton's tyres had given up and he duly pitted for his first stop. Despite a wobble off-track on his in-lap, he never lost his lead, with Alonso three and a half seconds behind.

Despite Rosberg's lack of telemetry, he was looking good with his Mercedes using less fuel than anticipated, the German relaying information back to his team over the radio.

On lap 22, Rosberg attacked Sebastian Vettel who had fallen away from Alonso, having given up hope of passing the Ferrari. This battle showed the two cars' strengths as Vettel was able to stay well ahead in the corners but the Mercedes' straight-line speed returned him to the back of the RB10.

Rosberg rounded up Vettel, who shoved Rosberg wide into the marbles. The Mercedes locked up into the hairpin, but Vettel was on the outside and unable to turn in. Vettel argued the point through several turns but the Mercedes driver won out.

This put Ricciardo on Vettel's tail, on fresher tyres and seemingly with more pace. Ricciardo darted to the outside at the hairpin forcing the German to cover. Again Ricciardo went to the outside at turn one, boxing Vettel in and compromising his line, but still unable to pass.

The Australian fell back a bit and the voice in Vettel's ears told him - for the second time this year - to let Ricciardo through. Vettel argued the point, telling the pitwall, "Tough luck." He later claimed that he didn't understand the direction.

Ricciardo obviously didn't need to be told twice and took Vettel on lap 26 with a mighty move after Vettel didn't have the brakes to hold him off at turn one. Ricciardo rapidly pulled away.

Romain Grosjean's race started to come apart after the team told him that fourth gear was shot. On lap 29 he slid off the road and he returned to the pits after an impressive performance in a car that seems to have decent pace, just no reliability.

Towards the end of their middle stint, Rosberg and Alonso began to get friendly as the German caught the Ferrari driver, taking four tenths out of the Spaniard lap after lap. Alonso bailed out of the battle and pitted on lap 34 for more medium tyres to take him to the end of the race.

Sebastian Vettel fired up again over the radio on lap 35 when Kamui Kobayashi passed the Red Bull driver to unlap himself. Vettel was unhappy believing the Caterham would only last two or three laps in front. He had been left out to switch to a two-stop strategy and after all of that, Vettel pitted anyway.

Rosberg and Ricciardo pitted together on lap 38, but Rosberg was already well ahead. Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 38 and was told he'd get his front wing cleaned just to be sure.

Rosberg still had telemetry problems and was over telling his team about his fuel usage, preferring to concentrate on chasing down Alonso. On lap 42, he breezed by the Ferrari on the approach to the hairpin.

By the time Alonso got DRS two corners later, Rosberg was long gone.

This left the Ferrari driver around six seconds ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who was keen to take that podium place. The Australian got to within 1.2 seconds at the flag, taking the well-deserved fourth place - and 25 seconds ahead of his increasingly unhappy teammate.

"I just ran out of laps," Ricciardo told his team from the car on his way to pit-lane. "The car got better as the race went on. at the end I was doing all I could to catch Alonso and I think we got to within a couple of seconds of him as we went over the line."

"It's going well with the team, I feel comfortable here and I did the best I could today. I really want that podium and we're getting close!"

Alonso took the final step of the podium, declaring the position "a surprise."

Hamilton swept to victory, with Rosberg taking second after an excellent recovery run from his poor start and contact with seventh-placed Valtteri Bottas in the Williams. Hamilton still trails Rosberg in the world championship, but by an ever-decreasing margin.

Formula 1 returns in three weeks for the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya.

NB The race was officially classified on lap 54 after the chequered flag was shown early to Hamilton at the end of lap 55.

 

RESULTS

  1. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1h33m28.338s
  2. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes +18.062s
  3. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari +23.604s
  4. Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull-Renault +27.136s
  5. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull-Renault +47.778s
  6. Nico Hulkenberg - Force India-Mercedes +54.295s
  7. Valtteri Bottas - Williams-Mercedes +55.697s
  8. Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari +1m16.335s
  9. Sergio Perez - Force India-Mercedes +1m22.647s
  10. Daniil Kvyat - Toro Rosso-Renault +1 lap
  11. Jenson Button - McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
  12. Jean-Eric Vergne - Toro Rosso-Renault +1 lap
  13. Kevin Magnussen - McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
  14. Pastor Maldonado - Lotus-Renault +1 lap
  15. Felipe Massa - Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
  16. Esteban Gutierrez - Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
  17. Jules Bianchi - Marussia-Ferrari +1 lap
  18. Kamui Kobayashi - Caterham-Renault +1 lap
  19. Max Chilton - Marussia-Ferrari +2 laps
  20. Marcus Ericsson - Caterham-Renault +2 laps

Retirements:

  • Romain Grosjean - Lotus-Renault - 27 laps
  • Adrian Sutil - Sauber-Ferrari - 4 laps

 
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