Hamilton lead a third consecutive Mercedes 1-2 of the season while Ferrari were incapable of fighting back, rather being more preoccupied by the internal duel between Leclerc and Vettel.
A relatively easy victory for Hamilton in China, the result lifting him into the lead of the driver’s championship. Hamilton managed to overtake his team-mate from the start of the race and once in front there was no real pressure on his lead and he took his 75th Formula 1 Grand Prix victory.
In spite of some worries regarding Ferrari’s power advantage, the two Mercedes drivers managed to handily win the inter-team battle while a fight between the two Ferrari drivers brought some life into an otherwise forgettable 1000th Formula 1 race.
Leclerc managed to pass Vettel on the inside of the first corner of the first lap, however he did not manage to keep up with the two Mercedes drivers during the first part of the race which lead Ferrari to ask the Monegasque to let his colleague pass him.
However, when Vettel did not manage to pull away, Leclerc was left frustrated by the team decision, softly saying to his engineer: “I’m losing quite a lot of time. I don’t know whether you want to know or not, but just so you know…”
By the time Vettel went into the pits from P3 at the end of lap 18, the gap to the leader had increased to over 12 seconds. Ferrari tried to defuse the situation by swapping Leclerc to an alternate strategy and in the process ran the second Ferrari car 5 further laps before pitting. He came back onto the track 14 seconds behind his team-mate while also losing P4 to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the process.
Although Leclerc managed to reduce the gap, Verstappen pitted once again with 22 laps to go which forced everyone ahead of him to make sure they could cover him off. Even with a healthy advantage at the front, the two Mercedes drivers pitted on the same lap in order to protect their lead.
Hamilton had no issues on his last stint and took the chequered flag 5 seconds ahead of Bottas winning the Chinese Grand Prix for the sixth time and taking the lead in the Driver’s Championship.
Bottas ended second for Mercedes and secured a third 1-2 for the team in as many races. The team’s best start to a season to date.
Vettel ended third for Ferrari and took his first podium of the season while a disgruntled Leclerc came home in fifth, a late stop proving not to be enough in taking back P4 from Verstappen. The other Red Bull driven by Pierre Gasly came home in sixth, his best result of the season so far and he also took home the Fastest Lap and the point that comes along with it.
Daniel Ricciardo took home his first points of the season with Renault finishing in seventh, ahead of Sergio Perez who took P8 for Racing Point and Kimi Raikkonen in P9, the three drivers ending the race basically nose to tail on the track.
The top 10 was filled out by Alexander Albon, who recovered from a pit-straight start – following a chassis replacement necessary because of his crash during saturday’s free practice – had a performance worth of Driver of the day, taking a point home for Toro Rosso in the team’s 250th Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Foto-credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1
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