Lewis Hamilton achieved his hat trick of victories this season with a dominant victory at the Chinese Grand Prix.
This result equals Niki Lauda’s record of 25 wins in Formula 1 and Hamilton is slowly closing the gap to championship leader Nico Rosberg to four points.
Hamilton dominated the race from pole position, while Mercedes team-mate Rosberg had to battle through to second after a slow start.
Australian Grand Prix winner Rosberg started fourth behind the Red Bulls, but drop down to seventh after a sluggish getaway and was fortunate to emerge from the first corner unscathed after tagging the Williams of Valtteri Bottas.
Mercedes lost the telemetry readings from Rosberg’s car before the start of the Chinese Grand Prix, but the team was able to help manage his race without them.
Rosberg repassed Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India and Felipe Massa’s Williams early on, before jumping the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo for fourth at the first round of pitstops.
Once it became clear Rosberg did not have to worry about fuel consumption in his second stint, he closed down and passed the reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull for third.
Vettel slipped back on his second set of tyres and fell into the clutches of team-mate Ricciardo, also recovering after a slow start from the front row of the grid.
Vettel refused a team order to let Ricciardo through, but the Australian got the best of their personal duel anyway when the four-time world champion Vettel ran deep into Turn 1 around half race distance.
The pair eventually finished fourth and fifth behind Fernando Alonso, who survived contact with his former Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa at the start to score the Scuderia’s first podium of the 2014 season.
Alonso climbed to third with a fast start from fifth on the grid and jumped Vettel for second by making his first pitstop earlier than the Red Bull.
But the improved Ferrari was not fast enough to prevent Mercedes scoring its third consecutive one-two result, so Alonso had to settle for the final podium spot when Rosberg passing him easily on the back straight with 14 laps to the flag.
Alonso had to do a long stint on his final set of tyres and only held off Ricciardo’s Red Bull by 1.2 seconds, while Vettel finished 24 seconds behind his team-mate.
Massa survived his brush off Alonso as he tried to squeeze between the Ferrari and Ricciardo’s sluggish Red Bull at the start to run as high as fifth, but the Brazilian’s race was ruined by a slow first pitstop at which Williams encountered a problem with the left-rear wheel.
Nico Hulkenberg got the better of Massa’s Williams team-mate Bottas to round out the top six, while Hulkenberg’s Force India team-mate Sergio Perez – a podium hero last time out in Bahrain – climbed from P16 on the grid to finish ninth, just 2.4 seconds behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari.
Romain Grosjean’s Lotus retired with gearbox problems – no fourth gear – allowing Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat to continue his strong start to the season and claim the final point by rounding out the top ten in China.
Jenson Button completed a disappointing race for McLaren by finishing in P11, ahead of the slow-starting Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne and his rookie team-mate Kevin Magnussen.
Pastor Maldonado climbed from the back of the grid to P14 for Lotus, one position ahead of the recovering Massa.
So a not a thrilling race at the Shanghai International Circuit compared to Bahrain but the race results means it’s an exciting battle for top honours. Nico Rosberg still leads the Drivers’ championship with 79 over 74 to Lewis Hamilton. While Red Bull Racing moves to second in the Constructors’ as Mercedes extends their lead.
Chinese Grand Prix, race results after 54 laps:
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h36m52.810s
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +18.686s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +25.765s
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault +26.978s
5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault +51.012s
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +57.581s
7. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +58.145s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1m23.990s
9. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes +1m26.489s
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. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault +1 lap
18. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari +1 lap
19. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari +2 laps
20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault +2 laps
Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 27 laps
Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 4 laps
1. Nico Rosberg 79
2. Lewis Hamilton 75
3. Fernando Alonso 41
4. Nico Hulkenberg 36
5. Sebastian Vettel 33
6. Daniel Ricciardo 24
7. Valtteri Bottas 24
8. Jenson Button 23
9. Kevin Magnussen 20
10. Sergio Perez 18
11. Felipe Massa 12
12. Kimi Raikkonen 11
13. Jean-Eric Vergne 4
14. Daniil Kvyat 4
1. Mercedes 154
2. Red Bull-Renault 57
3. Force India-Mercedes 54
4. Ferrari 52
5. McLaren-Mercedes 43
6. Williams-Mercedes 36
7. Toro Rosso-Renault 8
Next race: Spanish Grand Prix, Circuit de Catalunya. May 9-11.