SHANGHAI: Lewis Hamilton powered to victory in a chaotic Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai yesterday, taking swift revenge for his defeat by Sebastian Vettel in the Formula One season-opener. The Briton, who started on pole, steered his Mercedes to his fifth Chinese Grand Prix win, beating Vettel’s Ferrari by just over six seconds with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finishing third after early safety car drama. “Get in there Lewis!” Hamilton’s engineer said over team radio after the three-time world champion took the chequered flag in China for the third time in the last four years.
“That’s a great race, mate. An absolute masterclass.” Hamilton replied: “We’ve worked really hard for this, we’ve got to keep pushing.”
Vettel recovered from a poor start from row one and, after being stuck behind Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen early on, began to show the pace that swept the German to victory in Melbourne two weeks ago. First Vettel blew past Raikkonen before going wheel-to-wheel with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo at turn seven, producing puffs of blue smoke as the cars touched tyres.
Verstappen loomed ahead but the young Dutchman, who produced an astonishing first lap after starting from 16th on the grid, suffered a lock-up going into the hairpin allowing Vettel, rather anti-climactically, to take second place. Hamilton, meanwhile, never looked seriously threatened despite a sequence of fastest laps from his German title rival.
“Grazie a tutti!” said Vettel over the radio. “I think we were a bit unlucky. It felt like we were the quickest, man. We couldn’t prove that today but next time we will.”
Ricciardo took fourth behind Verstappen after a furious late scrap between the two Red Bulls with Raikkonen finishing in fifth ahead of fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes.
Carlos Sainz finished seventh for Toro Rosso with Kevin Magnussen’s Haas eighth and the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon rounding out the top 10.
Bottas apologised to his team for an embarrassing spin while weaving to warm his tyres behind the safety car, which dropped him down to 12th. “Really sorry, guys, for the amateur mistake,” said Bottas, who had earlier been called “Nico” over team radio. “I’ll make up for it in the next race.” A wet track caused havoc early on with the virtual safety car deployed on lap one after Lance Stroll spun off in his Williams.
The safety car was called again after Antonio Giovinazzi smashed his Sauber into a wall. – AFP