Published: Tue, April 18, 2017
Sport | By Desiree Waters

Lewis Hamilton wins the Chinese Grand Prix

It had been expected that the Mercedes driver would face stiff opposition from Australian Grand Prix victor Vettel as well as Hamilton's own team-mate Valtteri Bottas, but the battle was never joined.

Hamilton switched to the soft tyres while in front when the safety vehicle went through the pit lane following Sauber reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi's early crash and there was no catching the three-time world champion.

A wet start and a crash from Williams' Lance Stroll saw the safety vehicle used, with Vettel opting to pit for dry tyres on the second lap. Or so he thought.

The drama-filled start after a rainy morning set the stage for Hamilton's victory and Mercedes' recovery after Vettel surprisingly triumphed in Australia and signaled that Ferrari had the pace this year to challenge the silver cars.

"I am looking forward to this fight, not only with Sebastian, but the other guys as well, who are in amongst it". And then we came here and he said I did the better job and he acknowledged that.

The 19-year-old finished 45 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton to claim his first podium in Shanghai and showed once again why he'll be a force to be reckoned with this season.

Sebastian Vettel was in good form for the duration of the race. I caught up with the Red Bull but it was too late.

"It is going to be one of the closest if not the closest [title race] I have ever experienced", said Hamilton.

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During his successive title-winning years, critics used to suggest Vettel could not overtake but, not for the first time in his subsequent championship-less years, the German proved his wheel-to-wheel skills are just as sharp. The leaders all pitted in and around the half-distance mark, but Vettel was unable to do anything about Hamilton as the Briton took the chequered flag a comfortable six seconds clear of his title rival. As expected, the new rules have seen lap times fall by around 3-5 seconds, and at Shanghai's Chinese Grand Prix last weekend, we got to see first-hand just how fast the cars are nowadays.

"Without the safety auto the story of the race should be different", said Marchionne.

"On a track and in conditions which were very different from those we had in Melbourne, we proved that we have a strong auto", Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene said. "He [Vettel] was closing the gap but I managed to stay ahead".

With an engine issue preventing Raikkonen from getting close to Ricciardo in third, Vettel opted to take matters into his own hands on Lap 20, diving down the inside at Turn 6 to relieve his teammate of fourth place.

The first slick-runner, Carlos Sainz Jr., battled his way up to seventh for Toro Rosso, while Kevin Magnussen scored his first points as a Haas driver in eighth place.

"The vehicle was behaving pretty nicely with the new tyres, but we lost the front after a few laps and for sure we have some work to be done with the set-up to be happen all the time".

Fernando Alonso joined his McLaren Honda team-mate on the sidelines on lap 34 when he had a driveshaft issue.

Verstappen, who won the Driver of the Day award - voted for by the fans - said he wasn't expecting a top-three finish, given his starting position.

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