Chinese Grand Prix 2017: Lewis Hamilton leads from start to finish in crushing Shanghai win ahead of Vettel

Phil Duncan
Hamilton celebrates victory in Shanghai - Reuters

  • Hamilton wins, leading from start to finish in Shanghai
  • Vettel's early pit-stop backfires, but he recovers to finish second
  • Max Verstappen holds off team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to claim third

A dominant Lewis Hamilton delivered a crushing victory at the Chinese Grand Prix to join title rival Sebastian Vettel at the summit of the Formula One championship.

Hamilton claimed his fifth victory in Shanghai with a lights-to-flag win while Vettel, who took the chequered flag at the opening round in Australia, recovered from fifth to finish in second place.

Max Verstappen, who started 16th, completed the podium following a scintillating display in the early wet-dry conditions before fending off a challenge from his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages.

Chinese Grand Prix 2017 | Podium finish

The poor weather which wreaked havoc with Friday's practice schedule, and forced the sport's new owners to consider moving the race forward by 24 hours, returned overnight. But despite a damp track the grand prix went ahead as scheduled.

And pole-sitter Hamilton, for the second race in succession, made no mistake at the start as he nailed the 380-yard dash down to turn one to retain the lead with Vettel following in behind.

Giovinazzi's big crash disrupted Vettel Credit: Reuters

Canadian rookie Lance Stroll was the first casualty of the inclement conditions after he was punted from behind by the Force India of Sergio Perez. The Williams ended up in the gravel and the virtual safety car was deployed.

While Hamilton remained out on track, Vettel led a number of drivers down the pit lane to take on the slick rubber with track conditions rapidly improving under overcast but dry skies.

Antonio Giovinazzi, who has replaced the unfit Pascal Wehrlein here, was among them, but after crashing in qualifying on Saturday, the Italian was at it again, losing control of his Sauber on a damp patch of the track and crashing into the pit wall.

His Sauber was in bits and the safety car for real was sent on to the circuit. Hamilton took the opportunity to take on the dry tyres and it worked out perfectly for the Briton as he emerged from the pit lane still in the lead.

When the safety car pitted at the end of lap seven, Hamilton led from Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and Verstappen, who had made up an astonishing 11 places on the opening lap, with Vettel now down in fifth.

Hamilton struggled to get his new rubber up to temperature, and looked to be under threat from the majestic Verstappen, who had passed Raikkonen at the re-start before diving underneath his Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo at turn six, to move into second.

Hamilton was composed in his 54th career win Credit: AP

But as the laps ticked by, Hamilton began to extend his lead and by the end of lap 16 he was three seconds clear of the 19-year-old Dutchman.

Behind him, Vettel was on the move, too. The four-time champion took to the inside of his team-mate Raikkonen at turn six on lap 20 and moments later he made his pass on Ricciardo. And what a move it was, too.

Ricciardo attempted to defend his position as Vettel moved to the outside at turn six and the pair banged wheels before the gutsy Ferrari man made the pass stick at the next corner.

Verstappen was next on Vettel's hit list, but with the Red Bull man losing grip on his ageing tyres, he made a mistake at the penultimate turn allowing Vettel to cruise through.

Chinese Grand Prix 2017 result

By now though Hamilton was nearly 12 seconds up the road. 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.

Ricciardo, despite harassing Verstappen for the final part of the race, finished fourth with Raikkonen fifth and Valtteri Bottas, who spun under the safety car, recovering to sixth.

Fernando Alonso had spent most of the race in a sterling seventh, but was forced to retire with a driveshaft problem. His team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne also failed to make it to the end after suffering a mechanical failure to cap another miserable weekend for McLaren.

Briton's Jolyon Palmer started last after being penalised for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying and he crossed the line 13th of the 15 classified finishers.

 

 

 

8:45AM

Lewis Hamilton wins in China!

The Brit leads from pole and every lap after to claim victory in Shanghai - a superb weekend for him and Mercedes.

Vettel, hindered by that early pit stop, finishes second.

And Max Verstappen claims third having fended off team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

It's level in the world title race. Onto Bahrain!

8:40AM

Lap 54 of 56

Verstappen is fending off Ricciardo for the final podium place - another test on whether overtaking is going to be more difficult this season.

The gap is only 0.4 seconds, but Ricciardo cannot make it past. Two laps to go - can young Max keep his team-mate at bay?

8:32AM

Lap 50 of 56

Hamilton and Vettel split by 7.7 seconds with only seven laps to go.

A win for Hamilton, looking all but certain now, will put the pair level on points.

Hopefully a taste of what's to come.

8:26AM

Lap 45 of 56

Hamilton extends the gap to 8.7 seconds - and that looks to be the end of Vettel's hopes of winning today. He needs a major slip from the Mercedes in these final 12 laps.

But pit-stop woe aside, there's plenty to be positive about for Vettel and Ferrari. 

8:22AM

Lap 43 of 56

Sebastian Vettel puts in another fastest lap of the Grand Prix, but Hamilton looks ready to match him, getting within a tenth of a second a lap later. The gap 7.8 seconds.

Here's how it stands with 14 laps to go:

  1. Hamilton
  2. Vettel
  3. Verstappen
  4. Ricciardo
  5. Raikkonen

8:17AM

Lap 40 of 56

Raikkonen pits after another grumble on the radio about front-end grip, putting super softs on.

At least we'll see how well those tyres work on a Ferrari. Vettel opted for the softs.

Vettel, actually, has reduced the gap to Hamilton to eight seconds and was 1.3 seconds quicker than the Mercedes on that lap. Hamilton will have to put the pedal down again.

8:12AM

Lap 37 of 56

The answer is no: Hamilton comes in to change his tyres and goes for softs.

He comes back out in front on a new set of boots - perfect for him.

There are still plenty of laps left, but it's looking good for the Brit.

8:08AM

Lap 36 of 56

Verstappen, as you'd expect on a fresh set of super softs, is absolutely flying. 

He dives down the inside of the Mercedes of Bottas, who has absolutely nothing to give back.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel pits. Interesting. And he opts for the soft compounds.

If Hamilton can stay out, he'll win the race. We'll see whether his tyres will allow it.

8:00AM

Lap 31 of 56

Vettel now in second as Verstappen locks his tyres terribly, allowing the Ferrari through.

It's a double blow for the Red Bull, now forced to pit for a fresh set of rubber.

So, can the Ferrari close in on Hamilton? The gap's still growing - 11.5 seconds - and Vettel is on older tyres.

Advantage still with Hamilton, you would think.

7:57AM

Lap 28 of 56

This is looking very good for Hamilton. He has a 9.3 second lead over Verstappen, who has Vettel closing in on him.

He still appears confident of seeing out this race on his current tyres.

Hamilton and Vettel at the start of the race - they haven't seen each other since Credit: AP

 

7:48AM

Lap 24 of 56

The Ferrari garage erupts in applause as Vettel uses the same corner to clear Ricciardo.

Great stuff from him. Excellent driving.

But he's still more than nine seconds behind Hamilton, who, replies with a quickest lap. It's still looking good for the pole sitter.

  1. Hamilton
  2. Verstappen
  3. Vettel
  4. Ricciardo
  5. Raikkonen

7:45AM

Lap 21 of 56

McLaren's early-season misery continues as Vandoorne parks up in the garage. A disappointing sight. 

Meanwhile, Vettel finally gets past Raikkonen with a lovely move, diving into the corner and leaving his team-mate no option but to allow him through.

Vettel, four-time world champion, is straight onto the rear of Daniel Ricciardo. Hamilton's lead growing gradually, now at four seconds.

7:41AM

Lap 18 of 56

Vettel now 9.3 seconds behind the leader. 

 

 

7:37AM

Lap 15 of 56

Hamilton puts in the quickest lap of the race so far - 1:38.124 - as the gap grows beyond two seconds to Verstappen.

The battle for third is looking rather interesting. Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Vettel are closely packed. This should be a good test on whether overtaking is still a problem.

7:31AM

Lap 12 of 56

Antonio Giovinazzi's earlier incident that led to the safety car being deployed Credit: Reuters

 

7:29AM

Lap 11 of 56

This is playing out perfectly for Hamilton.

It appears though he could finish the race on his current set of tyres and the battle for second is giving him a bit of breathing space.

Until now. Verstappen gets past his team-mate Ricciardo and begins his pursuit of the Mercedes, the gap coming down to 1.4 seconds. What a battle we have in store.

7:26AM

Lap 10 of 56

Here's how things stand in the early stages.

  1. Hamilton
  2. Ricciardo
  3. Verstappen
  4. Raikkonen
  5. Vettel
  6. Sainz
  7. Alonso 
  8. Perez
  9. Magnussen
  10. Kyvat

7:24AM

Lap 9 of 56

And we're go again!

Bottas has a moment just before we get going again, underlining once more how tricky and slippery it is out there.

Max Verstappen has been the star so far and overtakes Kimi Raikkonen to move into third. Could he come into contention as this race progresses.

Hamilton leads Daniel Ricciardo by 1.2 seconds.

7:19AM

Lap 7 of 56

Good news for Vettel: no further action taken on being out of position.

Bad news for Vettel: He's lost out massively in the first, disrupted part of this Grand Prix. 

This has nearly been cleaned up and we should be ready to race again shortly.

 

7:17AM

Lap 5 of 56

There's still plenty of spray in parts of the track, but Hamilton stays out on intermediates. Vettel has pitted and sits in sixth position.

Woah. A big crash on the start-finish straight - Giovinazzi appears to slip on a wet patch and there's debris everywhere. The crowd cheers as he walks back to the pits.

Through all that, Hamilton has finally pitted, retains his lead and has soft tyres on. Vettel still sixth.

Which tyre to be on remains the big question. We'll soon see who's correct.

7:10AM

Lap 2 of 56

So, Hamilton leads Vettel by 1.7 seconds after the first lap. Virtual safety car is deployed so the marshals can move Stroll's stricken vehicle.

But the big news is Vettel is under investigation for being out of position on the grid. Is that going to scupper his race?

7:06AM

It's lights out in Shanghai

Lewis Hamilton has a strong start, Sebastian Vettel not so much, but the Ferrari quickly gets towards the rear of the Mercedes. 

And Lance Stroll's off, into the gravel. It looks like he had a collision further down the pack.

7:04AM

Preview

What is it?

It's the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix.

When is it?

It's on Sunday April 9.

What time does it start?

This race is bright and early - lights out is scheduled for 7am British Summer Time.

What TV channel is it on?

You can only watch this year's race on Sky Sports F1. Alternatively, you can follow live updates right here with Natasha Henry.

Who fired and who flopped at the Australian Grand Prix?

What happened in qualifying?

Hamilton captured his sixth pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix on Saturday, edging Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by less than two-tenths of a second.

For the second race in a row, Hamilton also shattered a track record. His time of 1 minute, 31.678 seconds broke the 13-year-old mark held by Michael Schumacher at the Shanghai International Circuit by more than half a second. He also posted the fastest-ever lap at the Albert Park circuit in qualifying at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix last month.

Still, Hamilton doesn't necessarily think he's the odds-on favorite in Sunday's race, given the pace his rivals in the scarlet cars have shown.

The front three for the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix Credit: Getty Images

"The Ferraris have looked so fast," Hamilton said. "It's super exciting for me because we're really fighting these guys, having to raise the bar every time we go out."

Hamilton also started from pole position at the Australian GP, but Vettel beat him on race day when Hamilton pitted early and got stuck in traffic and couldn't catch up.

It was Vettel's first victory in more than a year and established Ferrari as a true competitor to the long-dominant silver cars. Vettel is now keen to make it two-for-two in race wins to start the season.

How does the world championship look?

What's the latest weather forecast?

It's going to rain, heavily. Which will make the race interesting.

What are they saying?

Lewis Hamilton:

"It is more exciting than ever for me because we are really fighting with these guys," said a beaming Hamilton after posting the fastest lap ever recorded at the Shanghai International Circuit.

"It is amazing and that is what racing is all about, and it really pushes you to raise the bar every time you go out, which I love.

"Tomorrow is going to be an unusual day. I heard it is wet to start off and I have not driven the new wet tyre this season.

"It will be a new lesson but it is going to be close, and that bodes well for one of the most exciting days to come for a long time."

Sebastian Vettel:

"I think our car is strong no matter what," Vettel said. "I still think we can improve."

What are the odds?

  • Lewis Hamilton - 4/5
  • Sebastian Vettel - 15/8
  • Valtteri Bottas - 13/1
  • Kimi Raikkonnen - 17/1

What's our prediction?

Lewis Hamilton to win from pole.

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