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2015 Chinese F1 GP: Hamilton Wins, Rosberg Fumes Photo:
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Peter Anderson | Apr, 13 2015 | 8 Comments

Lewis Hamilton took a commanding victory at the Chinese Grand Prix, followed home by teammate Nico Rosberg.

It wasn't all smiles, however, with Rosberg complaining Hamilton had compromised his race. Sebastian Vettel backed up his Malaysian victory with a great third place.

Mercedes left Malaysia feeling a bit sore and sorry after losing in a straight fight to Scuderia Ferrari. They came to China telling the world they had learnt a lot from Sepang and learn they did.

The race ended under the safety car after a heartbreaking engine faulure for Max Verstappen, the Mercedes team bounced back to take the win, but the team rivalry reignited after a fractious strategy battle.

 

PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING

Cool and breezy conditions greeted the teams as Mercedes and Ferrari duked it out in the practice sessions.

These were mostly uneventful with the notable exception of Felipe Massa's Williams breaking away from him at the end of the long, long straight.

The team had removed a part of the rear wing known as the monkey seat, stalling the rear wing and robbing the Brazilian of downforce. He got away with it in the end, with a broken front wing.

Qualifying saw a Mercedes 1-2 but Rosberg was a mere four hundredths behind - the German was frustrated with his performance and wasn't shy in showing it.

Williams weren't as close to the Ferraris as they had hoped and Raikkonen was unhappy with his position after a self-confessed bad lap. So a lot of long faces and scratched heads.

Australia's Daniel Ricciardo comprehensively out-qualified Daniil Kvyat who failed to make Q3 but it turned out he was on his third engine of the year.

The McLarens ended up back with the Manors (yes, both of them!) and Nico Hulkenberg's Force India.

 

RACE

Sunday dawned bright and unusually clear for the usually smog-cloaked Shanghai Circuit. Twenty cars took the start, all of the top ten started on soft tyres.

Hamilton parked in his grid slot pointing across the track to see off Rosberg. As the lights went out, Hamilton prevailed against the German.

From the third row the two Finns - Raikkonen and Bottas - rocketed forward. Raikkonen followed Bottas by Massa and then around Bottas himself.

Massa then got ahead of his teammate, so his net gain was zero and there he stayed till the flag.

Both Kvyat and Ricciardo had awful first laps, with the Australian ending seventeenth after a rotten start later attributed to human error. Kvyat was engulfed by Max Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg.

The second and third laps saw plenty of overtaking and a spin from Carlos Sainz. Ricciardo started marching forward, passing Alonso's McLaren.

Maldonado also made a pass stick and survive to actually race unhindered by damage for the first time this year.

By lap five Kvyat, Ricciardo and Alonso were locked in battle, with the young Russian holding up the latter two. Button came into the equation when Kvyat finally got word to let Ricciardo through, a call he failed to heed.

Ricciardo stuffed it down the inside on lap six and began to stride away, no doubt very unhappy with his young teammate.

Up front the gap was a steady one second between the two Mercedes, with the Ferraris a few seconds back. Up and down the midfield the battles raged, the Saubers of Nasr and Ericsson fighting off Maldonado and Verstappen respectively.

Maldonado got by Nasr on lap nine, his Lotus remaining intact while Ericsson continued to box clever against Max Verstappen. The young Dutchman grabbed the place on lap ten at the hairpin, giving the Sauber driver such a shock he seemed to forgot to keep driving for a moment.

A further beneficiary to that move, Nico Hulkenberg was unable to capitalise as his Force India ground to a halt.

Later, on lap twenty, Verstappen made the same move on the other Sauber, this time causing slightly less alarm.

The first of the front-runners to pit was Sebastian Vettel, an attempt to undercut the two Mercedes. Vettel went to another set of the faster soft tyres. It was a long shot with a six second gap between silver and red.

The gap between the two silver cars was 2.5 seconds when Hamilton pitted on lap fifteen, the Briton satisifed with the performance of the soft tyres, so he took on another set.

Bottas followed Hamilton in and fitted mediums. Rosberg fitted soft tyres the next time around and Raikkonen stopped too, again for soft tyres. Rosberg nipped out in front of Vettel, the gap much closer.

On lap 16 Daniil Kvyat's Red Bull left the track with smoke pouring from the rear and a bit of a fire. Daniel Ricciardo was having a slightly better time of it, passing Carlos Sainz for thirteenth.

Daniel Ricciardo had a crack at Sauber's Marcus Ericsson at turn fourteen, the hairpin, but the Red Bull wouldn't pull up in time, sending the Australian off the road and the Swede held the spot.

After spending a few laps recovering, Ricciardo was back on the gearbox of Marcus Ericsson, throwing a dummy on lap 27. This put the Red Bull right on the rear wing of the Sauber on the main straight.

They wernt through turn one and two together, Ricciardo prevailing for a few corners before outbraking himself. He went again on lap 29 at the hairpin and held on to the place.

While all this was going on over eleventh, the Mercedes team were telling Hamilton to pick up the pace or lose his right to "first-to-stop" to Rosberg. The German was complaining he was being backed into Vettel, compromising his race.

Rosberg pitted a lap after Vettel who was attempting an undercut. Vettel had again closed the gap to the second Mercedes. Hamilton set about consolidating his lead by smashing out fastest laps.

Hamilton pitted for the second time on lap 34, picked up a set of medium tyres and a quick adjustment to his front wing.

With all the pit-stops, Kimi Raikkonen took the lead and continued on his soft tyres at a very respectable pace for another couple of laps.

Pastor Maldonado's flawless race came undone as he locked up coming into the pits, almost ending up in the Paddock. H

e reversed out and continued on. While his cheeks were burning, Hamilton's other cheeks were burning as he complained of a hot seat, a malady that had persisted over the weekend.

Following his pit-lane indiscretion, Maldonado had a huge tank-slapper on lap 41. He failed to hit anything and carried gamely on.

At the other end of the talent scale, Max Verstappen nabbed eighth from Sergio Perez who then lost another spot to Felipe Nasr.

Ricciardo found himself behind Ericsson again, and that just happened to be the last of the points positions. Ricciardo went down the outside at the turn fourteen hairpin.

The battle was on then, all the way to turn six on the following lap. For this hairpin, Ricciardo went down the inside and grabbed the place, both cars locking up. Nail-biting, wheel-to-wheel and, above all, clean, hard racing.

Thirteen laps from the end, Jenson Button bravely fought Pastor Maldonado over thirteenth and fourteenth places. The two raced side-by-side over three laps, swapping places despite a rumoured 100kW power dfference.

Fernando Alonso was right behind the battle and made hay when Button and Maldonado came together at turn one. Button went into the back of the Lotus, throwing both cars into a spin but both were able to return to the pits.

The Lotus retired next time around while Button headed out after a wing change. After the race, a downcast Button admitted it was a misjudgement, copped a five second penalty and points on his superlicence.

The Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen began to close on Vettel with five laps to go - the Finn's tyres were younger and there was a chance he could catch his German teammate.

Max Verstappen's stellar performance came to a sad end on lap 54, as did the racing. The Toro Rosso's engine gave out in a clattery mess on the main straight, bringing out the Safety Car to neutralise the field.

A valiant attempt by the marshals to slot the car through a gap in the pitwall came to nought in time for a racing finish.

The Mercedes drivers participated in an entertainingly awkward post-race press conference, with a very miffed Rosberg being further wound-up by a justifiably smug Hamilton.

The gap back to Vettel in third wasn't as gulf-like as in qualifying, showing there is still life in the championship with a Ferrari that performs well in race trim. Vettel finished third with Raikkonen in fifth. Daniel Ricciardo came home in ninth.

"At least some positives are that we learned a few areas where we need to improve and the smart guys in the team can find a solution," Ricciardo said.

We underachieved today, but hopefully we find something in the next few days and have a better result in Bahrain."

Formula 1 returns next week for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

 

2015 Chinese F1 GP Results

  1. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 1h39m42.008s
  2. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes +0.714s
  3. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari +2.988s
  4. Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari +3.835s
  5. Felipe Massa - Williams/Mercedes +8.544s
  6. Valtteri Bottas - Williams/Mercedes +9.885s
  7. Romain Grosjean - Lotus/Mercedes +19.008s
  8. Felipe Nasr - Sauber/Ferrari +22.625s
  9. Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull/Renault +32.117s
  10. Marcus Ericsson - Sauber/Ferrari +1 Lap
  11. Sergio Perez - Force India/Mercedes +1 Lap
  12. Fernando Alonso - McLaren/Honda +1 Lap
  13. Carlos Sainz - Toro Rosso/Renault +1 Lap
  14. Jenson Button - McLaren/Honda +1 Lap
  15. Will Stevens - Marussia/Ferrari +2 Laps
  16. Roberto Merhi - Marussia/Ferrari +2 Laps
  • Max Verstappen - Toro Rosso/Renault - Engine
  • Pastor Maldonado - Lotus/Mercedes - Retirement
  • Daniil Kvyat - Red Bull/Renault - Retirement
  • Nico Hulkenberg - Force India/Mercedes - Retirement

 
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