Lewis Hamilton coasts to fifth title at Chinese Grand Prix
11 April, 2017, 06:12 | Author: Paula Vaughn
With Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel starting side-by-side on the front row at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, the stage was set for a wheel-to-wheel duel between long-dominant Mercedes and a newly competitive Ferrari. Both World Champions have a win and a second place from their opening two races of the season.
Afterwards Hamilton said: "Today was very tough for us all". "It was mostly dry at the start but a couple of wet corners". Hamilton and Vettel now sit on equal points in the championship as the battle really looks on between Mercedes and Ferrari.
"I think I had the pace to control, being in that position, but if there wasn't a safety auto it would have been a flat out race, couple of seconds between us the whole way probably, because we were very close in lap time", Hamilton said.
"Strength-wise we are stronger, but pace-wise, if anything Ferrari got a bit quicker this weekend and the gap's even closer", he said. "The race was a lot of fun, very entertaining". However, the green-flag conditions gave Verstappen an impressive opportunity to pass Raikkonen for P3, before taking on teammate Ricciardo for P2.
His third place duplicated his result in Brazil a year ago when he recovered from 16th to reach the podium in heavy rain, prompting team Red Bull chief Christian Horner to call it "one of the best drives I've seen in Formula One". "So for us I think it's great news that we had another race where we were really close and were able to put some pressure on". The virtual safety auto was deplyed on lap 2 after contact between Willams' Lance Stoll and Sergio Perez's Force India and left the former's vehicle beached on to the gravel. I said I???m coming back in the next one.
Marchionne added that the safety vehicle, which was brought out after Antonio Giovinazzi crashed on the start-finish straight, probably cost Vettel victory. And then we came here and he said I did the better job and he acknowledged that.
While struggling to keep his speed consistently ascending, Ricciardo had managed to stay ahead of another Ferrari (Kimi Raikkonen) just 2.04 seconds.
Hamilton heaped praise on Vettel, the German four-time world champion, who was unlucky to have pitted just before a safety vehicle and emerged stuck in traffic. Stroll and Giovinazzi never returned after their early mishaps, and they were joined on the sidelines by McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat, who retired with mechanical problems. The teams will now be heading to Bahrain for the next race on 16th April. Despite the frontrunner's performance, it was 19-year-old Max Verstappen's drive that stole the show.
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