Hamilton leads home Silver Arrows one-two in China

Mercedes China 2015

Reigning world champions Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes reconfirm their superiority over Formula 1 with a commanding victory at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Nico Rosberg had to settle with second position, but was not too happy with his team-mate during the Chinese Grand Prix, blaming Hamilton on intending to slow him down…

At least the Silver Arrows finished ahead of rival Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen gave chase throughout the race and yet it wasn’t really an entertaining Grand Prix.

Hamilton had made his intentions clear by aiming his car very aggressively towards Rosberg’s on the starting grid.

The pole sitter duly held his lead off the line, with Rosberg and Vettel stringing out behind the defending champion through the first stint.

The situation became more tense in the middle stint of the two-stop race, as both Rosberg and Vettel closed on the race leader.

A frustrated Rosberg got on the radio to Mercedes asking if Hamilton could speed up, as his tyres were wearing out too much whenever he got closer than two seconds away from his team-mate’s rear wing.

When Ferrari brought Vettel in for his second pit-stop ahead of the Silver Arrows, Rosberg was pitted a lap later in an effort to prevent the Malaysian Grand Prix winner getting an undercut on his new tyres.

But rather than his rivals’ earlier pit-stops putting Hamilton at a disadvantage, he was able to raise his pace considerably on his final laps on soft tyres.

Hamilton ran two laps longer than Rosberg and rejoined with a six-second cushion rather than the two-second advantage he had held prior to the pit-stops.

Rosberg reduced Hamilton’s lead slightly before the chequrered flag.

A safety car appearance with just two laps to go – caused by Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso parking on the pit straight in a cloud of smoke – made things even more comfortable for Hamilton, as the race finished under yellow caution.

Vettel was not a match for the Mercedes once all were onto medium tyres and dropped away in third place.

The Ferrari driver then came under late pressure from his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

The Iceman quickly cleared both Williams on the opening lap to make up for his qualifying frustration, and though he could not keep pace with the top trio initially, he ran long in his middle stint and made up lost ground.

Raikkonen was still 1.4 seconds behind Vettel when the late safety car came out and had to be content with fourth.

Williams ran a lonely and distant fifth and sixth with Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, a minute behind the leaders prior to the field being bunched up.

Lotus achieved its first championship points of the year with Romain Grosjean in seventh position, but it was a crazy race for his team-mate Pastor Maldonado.

Maldonado got ahead of his team-mate in the first pit-stop sequence, before going down the pitlane entry escape road at his second pit-stop.

A spin while trying to recover left him even further behind, and Pastor was then involved in a spectacular battle with the McLarens of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.

After several laps, this came to a conclusion when Button hit the back of the Lotus at Turn 1, ending Maldonado’s race and prompting a stewards’ investigation.

The race stewards didn’t take too kindly on Button and decided to add two penalty points on his license.

Despite that, McLaren still got its first double finish of the season with Alonso and Button’s battered cars P12 and P13.

Until his late engine failure, Verstappen was on course for eighth position, having sliced through the field with some very bold overtaking.

But his problem completed a terrible day for Renault and the Red Bull-owned teams.

Daniel Ricciardo had tumbled to P17 after a terrible start and was having great difficulty in coming back through the field to ninth between the Saubers of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, which scored again.

Daniil Kvyat was also out early with a suspected engine failure, while Carlos Sainz Jr spun at Turn 1 in the opening laps and later lost time with a gearbox problem before finishing between the McLarens and Manors in P14.

Force India spent a while in the points as a unique three-stop strategy for Sergio Perez shook out, but in the end 11th was his limit.

A gearbox failure ended team-mate Nico Hulkenberg’s race.

So not a thrilling race but it’s fascinating to see that the same three drivers have finished on the podium three times already.

Lewis Hamilton is riding on a crest of confidence, while Sebastian Vettel appears to be a close challenger.

As for Nico Rosberg, he needs to turn this situation already and start reducing the points gap to his Mercedes team-mate.

Hamilton 2015 China winner

Chinese Grand Prix, 56 laps:
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    Manor-Ferrari    2 Laps
16    Roberto Merhi    Manor-Ferrari    2 Laps
17    Max Verstappen    Toro Rosso-Renault    Engine
–    Pastor Maldonado    Lotus-Mercedes    Collision
–    Daniil Kvyat    Red Bull-Renault    Engine
–    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    Retirement

Drivers’ championship:
1    Lewis Hamilton    68
2    Sebastian Vettel    55
3    Nico Rosberg    51
4    Felipe Massa    30
5    Kimi Raikkonen    24
6    Valtteri Bottas    18
7    Felipe Nasr    14
8    Daniel Ricciardo    11
9    Romain Grosjean    6
10    Nico Hulkenberg    6
11    Max Verstappen    6
12    Carlos Sainz    6
13    Marcus Ericsson    5
14    Daniil Kvyat    2
15    Sergio Perez    1
16    Jenson Button    0
17    Fernando Alonso    0
18    Roberto Merhi    0
19    Will Stevens    0

Constructors’ championship:
1    Mercedes    119
2    Ferrari    79
3    Williams-Mercedes    48
4    Sauber-Ferrari    19
5    Red Bull-Renault    13
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    12
7    Force India-Mercedes    7
8    Lotus-Mercedes    6
9    McLaren-Honda    0
10    Manor-Ferrari    0

Next race: Bahrain Grand Prix, April 17-19.

6 thoughts to “Hamilton leads home Silver Arrows one-two in China”

  1. Nico Rosberg accused Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton of selfishly compromising his race as old tensions between the Mercedes team mates flared up at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday.

    Hamilton led from start to finish, with Rosberg finishing second, but there more recriminations than celebrations afterwards.

    After accusing Hamilton in a news conference of “just thinking about yourself” as he controlled the pace, Rosberg said his afternoon had been compromised by his team mate driving too slowly.

    “Did Lewis do it on purpose or not? I don’t know. I can’t answer that,” the German fumed to television reporters afterwards. “But he said in the press conference he was just thinking about himself.

    “That’s an interesting indication, an interesting statement.”

    Hamilton, who can smile after winning two of the three races this season to open up a 13 point lead, shrugged off the criticism.

    “It’s not my job to look after Nico’s race,” said the Briton.

    “My job’s to manage the car and bring the car home as healthy and as fast as possible — and that’s what I did.”

    The spat revived memories of last year’s flashpoints between the two, particularly in Belgium and Monaco, when the team had to intervene.

    Hamilton had started on pole on Sunday with Rosberg outqualified and with the Ferrari drivers looking menacing behind.

    Rosberg then complained over the radio about Hamilton not going fast enough and said the Briton had left him vulnerable to being passed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who finished third.

    Hamilton, who has beaten Rosberg in nine of their last 10 races, played down the risk.

    “I’m not quite sure how I compromised his (race)…he was 4.4, 4.5 seconds behind so he was never close,” he said. “If Nico wanted to get by he could have tried but he didn’t.”

    Mercedes bosses Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda said the latest spat would be managed internally, but saw little fault in what Hamilton had done.

    “This is a rivalry and it was always a rivalry and it’s going to be very intense in the future,” said Wolff. “You need to expect this kind of discussion and controversy.

    “But today I think there weren’t many reasons to say that mistakes were done.”

    Lauda saw little risk of the situation escalating.

    “They sit down, they have a briefing, they cool down and I think it will be stopped quickly,” said the triple world champion.

    Source: Reuters

  2. The Mercedes drivers were right to be selfish, according to Niki Lauda. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Mercedes non-­executive chairman Niki Lauda says Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are right to take a selfish approach to racing against each other in Formula 1.

    There was tension in the Chinese Grand Prix post-­race press conference when Hamilton said he was focused on his own race and unconcerned about his team-­mate’s.

    That led Rosberg to accuse Hamilton of deliberately trying to back him up into Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari.

    Chinese GP analysis: Did Mercedes create controvery?

    Lauda says he has no problem with the way Hamilton chose to drive to secure victory.

    “Sure, he [Hamilton] will drive selfish,” said Lauda. “These guys…I call them egocentric bastards, let’s say.

    “And this is the only way to win a championship. It’s the oldest thing.”

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said on Sunday night that tensions between the pair have now cooled but while Lauda agrees things will ease, he admits there may be more upsets in the future.

    “Nico does the same to Lewis and Lewis the same to Nico if the shit hits the fan,” he said.

    “I fully agree, this is the way it is. Therefore we race.

    “There is no friendship out there. When you race you have to fight, that’s it.

    “When you are upset, you make statements, but in the end they will all cool down, go to Bahrain and start all over again -­ the same fight.”

  3. Williams adrift in third position, drivers admit post-race at Shanghai. Autosport.com has the details.

    Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas accept that Williams has now fallen back to being Formula 1’s third-fastest team.

    The Chinese Grand Prix was the second consecutive race in which the two Williams finished behind a quartet of Mercedes and Ferraris in distant fifth and sixth places.

    Although Massa and Bottas ran comfortably clear of Romain Grosjean’s Lotus in seventh before the safety car came out, they were more than 40 seconds adrift of race winner Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.

    “To be honest, we finished where we are for the moment,” said Massa. “We are the third team for the moment, we finished fifth and sixth.

    “Definitely it would be nice to finish in front of Ferrari but also closer to Mercedes as we’re always looking forward, but it’s not the case.”

    Bottas added: “It looks now quite clearly that we are the third-quickest team.

    “We have a good margin from the rear so we just need to try to do anything we can to move forward.”

    Massa said Williams’s advantage over the teams behind at least gave it a comfort zone while trying to get back on terms with Mercedes and Ferrari – having been clearly ahead of the Italian team and sometimes challenging the champion squad in 2014.

    “We need to push to improve but we can say it is also not so negative because we are third in the championship and we are building good points compared to the guys behind which is positive,” he insisted.

    “We need to work, we need to make the car better to catch these guys in front, which is not easy.”

  4. Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff insists Lewis Hamilton did nothing wrong in his Chinese Grand Prix battle with Nico Rosberg and says the tensions have now cooled.

    Rosberg was furious after the race as he accused Hamilton of deliberately trying to back him up into Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari during the middle stint.

    But following talks about the matter in the Sunday night post-race briefing, Wolff says the situation has been sorted and that Hamilton’s actions were not underhand.

    “It was a good debrief because it was a positive debrief,” said Wolff. “There wasn’t any animosity.

    “There was much more positivity today with not doing any mistake in the race and I know what you want to hear, but generally everybody was in good spirits.”

    Wolff said that Hamilton’s pace during that controversial second stint was dictated by concern about how long the option tyre would last.

    “I think he didn’t do it on purpose. We have cleared that now,” said Wolff.

    “There wasn’t any intention from Lewis to slow Nico down in order to make him finish third or worse, 100 per cent.

    “He didn’t know the gaps behind Nico, what he knew was that he had to take that tyre longer than we have ever run it the whole weekend.

    “This is why he decided to slow down in the way he did.”

    The team boss said Mercedes had shared some of Rosberg’s concerns during the race.

    “We realised as a team that this was putting us into trouble, putting Nico into trouble, risking the second place or even worse,” Wolff said.

    “If Lewis has a DNF then you could potentially lose the race as Mercedes, so there was lots of talk on the pitwall of the possible consequences.

    “He didn’t know that. I think you cannot really blame anybody.”

    Wolff revealed that the team came close to intervening to ensure that Hamilton’s pace did not compromise Rosberg in his battle with Vettel.

    “It could have come to a point today where we would have been very firm on the radio, saying this is what needs to be done in order not to risk the race result.

    “He [Hamilton] didn’t do anything wrong, but we were close to having such a call, that the pace needs to go up now.

    “It could come to a situation where you see we are risking the win against the Ferrari that we might do an unpopular call.

    “We wouldn’t freeze anything like this, because that is something we decided not to do, but it could be a situation where we need to manage them more.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  5. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen has strong hopes that the Scuderia can catch Mercedes. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Kimi Raikkonen believes Ferrari will catch the pacesetting Mercedes Formula 1 team this season despite suffering defeat at the Chinese Grand Prix.

    Lewis Hamilton led Nico Rosberg home to secure Mercedes’ second one-two of the season at Shanghai, with Sebastian Vettel and Raikkonen third and fourth respectively.

    The result reasserted Mercedes’ dominance following Vettel’s shock win in Malaysia, but during the opening two stints the Ferraris were able to keep pace with Hamilton and Rosberg.

    When asked if Mercedes can be caught by Ferrari this season, Raikkonen replied: “Yes. I don’t see a reason why not.

    “I think we have good plans already since last year and made big gains and will make big gains during this year.

    “Everybody improves and it depends what the rest are doing but we trust the way our team is working altogether and what we are doing.

    “So it definitely shows we are going the right way and doing the right things but you need time – you cannot make miracles overnight.”

    Raikkonen said the Shanghai result was evidence of different circuits suiting different cars rather than indicating that Sepang was a false dawn.

    “Like Seb showed, we could win but obviously it depends,” added the Finn.

    “One circuit can be good for one team and the next can be a different story.

    “We have to be up there. When something happens to them [Mercedes] or conditions change, we have to be there.

    “I feel with the speed we will get there so we can regularly try to beat them in any conditions or at any circuit – but we need some more time.”

    Ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain GP, Raikkonen said his goal is to improve his performance across practice and qualifying after a series of mistakes in the opening three races.

    “We go there, try to do our best and try to clean up Friday and Saturday,” he said.

    “I don’t see it is going to change a lot, but who knows? It is a new weekend, new circuit and we go there and do our best.”

  6. Hey Leaf!

    Unfortunately I don’t have time to post my full thoughts on the race (I actually really enjoyed the second half of it, but then I tend to focus more on the back of the grid anyway as that’s where all the crazy action is usually, unplanned powerslides and everything! ^_^), but I will say this about Nico’s comments:
    The BBC interviewer NAILED Nico’s hypocrisy when she asked, flatly ‘Would you not have done the same thing in Hamilton’s position?’ (or something very close to that). He was literally stumped, and had to mumble that it ‘wasn’t the question’ and ‘isn’t what happened’. In other words, as Niki Lauda said, he would TOTALLY have done the same thing, they’re racers, you go out there to win, and as Lewis said, if he was THAT slow, why not just overtake?!? (I’m being sarcastic of course, it’s more complicated than that, but still, there’s fairness in that point).

    Anyhow, ultimately I think Nico’s just frustrated, but he NEEDS to focus on his own driving and confidence and stop whinging about Lewis, it actually makes him look weak, both to the public but also internally to the team. Besides which, you can agree or disagree with the race tactics, but the fact is Nico has been ‘off’ slightly for three races in a row now. And the evidence of this is in the qualifying!

    Last year Nico was SO good they gave him an award as the best qualifier, yet here we are three races into 2015 and he hasn’t been on pole ONCE, and this after Lewis was unable to improve on his fastest lap in spite of his best efforts (this same thing happened at the previous race too). It was telling that after the qualifying, Nico was noticeably (and admittedly) frustrated by his inability to beat a time he KNOWS he should’ve been able to beat, and he can’t blame Lewis for that statistic. 😛

    In other news, good to see Raikkonen focused on bringing home the bacon, as it were. Good as he is, he’s in danger of being overshadowed by Vettel, and given all the time he’s been with Ferrari, it would be tragic if he weren’t able to get the best out of the fastest car they’ve had for years! @_@

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