Chinese Grand Prix: Hamilton coasts to victory in Shanghai

The Chinese Grand Prix has always been rather kind to current world champion Lewis Hamilton; the Brit has finished on the podium there at every race of his Formula 1 career bar two.

Over the past two races the stage has already been set for what looks like a consecutive title for the 30-year-old and Sunday was no different as Hamilton started on the grid from pole position, followed by team-mate Nico Rosberg who still can’t seem to get a break.

Shanghai International Circuit, kettle mag

Image: F1 Madness

As Hamilton pulled onto the grid after the formation lap he angled his car aggressively towards Rosberg, making it undeniably clear how he was prepared to play the race. But this approach was pretty redundant as Hamilton led the entire race, rarely getting a look in from the other Mercedes or the Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen who followed.

The action at the Shanghai International Circuit came mainly from the mid field of the track as cars fought for position; there really was little of interest going on up at the front. Raikkonen had a great start, moving himself up two places whilst Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo seemed to be going backwards at first.

Carlos Sainz in the Toro Rosso spun at Turn Two, prompting a radio message to his engineers to stop talking to him at the corners.

It was a dismal weekend for sister team Red Bull with Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat way down the field. Kvyat was asked to move aside for his team-mate but he made it clear that he wasn’t on board, cutting off the Australian when he attempted a move.

Force India had been looking a little stronger this weekend but that was short lived as Nico Hulkenberg became the first retirement of the day, team-mate Sergio Perez missing out on points in 11th position by the end of the race.

It was another grim race for McLaren and Manor, both teams firmly at the back of the pack. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso tried their hardest and there was some good racing from the pair but with the car they’ve been given they just weren’t up to scratch.

A few laps later Kvyat was following Hulkenberg into retirement, his car firmly giving up in a gush of smoke and flame whilst Sainz pulled aside with gearbox failure, only to restart his system and continue on but now very much at the back.

There was some squabbling amongst the Mercedes cars, Rosberg asking his engineers to tell Hamilton to speed up. Post-race news has flared with the German unhappy with his team-mate, even branding him ‘selfish’.

It was a mixed bag of a day for Lotus, finally gaining points from Romain Grosjean who crossed the line in seventh position. But Pastor Maldonado didn’t fare so well, getting embroiled in a few scraps that reinforced his nickname ‘Crashtor’. The Venezuelan almost crashed on his way into the pit lane losing time and later collided with Button, resulting in his own retirement. The Brit was penalised with a five second penalty, moving him into 14th, with two points also now on his superlicence.

The driver of the day was undoubtedly Max Verstappen who has really stepped up to the mark and is showing himself to be an incredible driver in the making. The young Dutchman made some stunning overtakes on the Sauber’s of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr down the back straight of the circuit, moving himself into a strong eighth place. With only four laps left to go his Toro Rosso locked up and stopped on the start-finish line, leaving a dejected Verstappen out of the race and the climax of the afternoon ending on a safety car, the seventh time in the sports history.

It was a complete and utter fiasco as marshals attempted to return the Toro Rosso safely to the enclosure but they couldn’t quite seem to manage it. It was a pretty painful watch to see them catching the wheels on the wall and failing each time. Before long the Toro Rosso mechanics were on the scene and saving the day to huge applause from the crowd.

Hamilton was thus the first to see the chequered flag, ahead of Rosberg and Vettel. Raikkonen finished in fourth, the Finn back on form after an unlucky last season. Williams’ Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas followed with Ricciardo splitting the Sauber’s who rounded off the top ten.

Hamilton has now won a total of four times in China and has also finished on the podium for ten consecutive races, his own personal best score.

Next week the drivers take to Bahrain where no doubt another Hamilton win is on the cards. Ferrari will be looking to challenge the Silver Arrows but we could see big things from the likes of Verstappen and the Sauber cars who have really stepped up a gear since 2014.

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