Hamilton victorious in China


Published: Sunday 12th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Lewis Hamilton produced an exceptional display of race management to clinch his fourth Chinese Grand Prix victory.

The double Formula One champion’s drive at the Shanghai International Circuit was befitting of his status to underline a thoroughly dominant weekend after topping every practice session ahead of claiming his 41st pole and 35th win.

Come the conclusion to the race, that finished under the safety car after the Renault power unit in teenager Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso blew on lap 54 of the 56, Hamilton finished ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

By the time of Verstappen’s demise, though, the win was in the bag as Hamilton was 10 seconds clear of Rosberg, with Vettel and Raikkonen just over 20 seconds adrift.

Williams duo Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were fourth and fifth, but they were never in the hunt for the podium places, not after Raikkonen had passed both on the opening lap from his sixth position on the grid.

From the start through to the first round of pit stops Hamilton held Rosberg at bay by a second as they traded fast laps, with Vettel and Raikkonen just managing to keep the duo in their sights.

After 10 laps the gap between the quartet was 6.4secs, leaving the remainder of the field behind as a two-team battle for the victory unfolded.

Following the initial stops on laps 13, 14 and 15, and with the soft Pirelli tyre again applied after the quicker compound was used in the first stint, the cushion between first and fourth grew to 11 seconds.

It was during the second stint Rosberg appeared to show tetchiness, telling his engineer over the team radio at one stage: “Reduce the conversation…I know what I have to do.”

With the gap between Hamilton and Rosberg 2.3secs, the German took to the radio to inform the team that “Hamilton is driving very slowly. Tell him to speed up.”

It appeared a strange message as Rosberg was not close enough to pass, but seconds later, via way of explanation, he said: “If I go closer I destroy my tyres, like the first set. That’s the problem.”

That prompted an immediate message to Hamilton as he was told: “Okay Lewis, pick the pace up a little bit.”

At that stage, around the laps in the mid-20s, Ferrari were proving quicker on their rubber, with Vettel closing to 3.6secs and Raikkonen to 6.8secs, setting the scene for a potential battle royal.

But come laps 30 and 31, with Ferrari beginning to tail off, Hamilton then showed he had plenty in reserve.

The 30-year-old posted back-to-back fastest laps, with the latter a staggering 0.8secs quicker than the former such was his searing pace, and at a time when Vettel pitted for a second time.

Although Rosberg was then called in first ahead of Hamilton to cover off Vettel at the next round of stops, it was a section of the race that proved decisive.

Come lap 35 Hamilton had stretched his lead to 6.2secs to Rosberg, with Vettel 10 seconds back and Raikkonen almost 15.

On the medium tyre, much more beneficial to Mercedes, a four-horse race then became two and a question of whether Rosberg could reel in his team-mate, but he barely closed to within five seconds.

Verstappen’s blown power-unit along the start-finish straight forced the safety car into play as it was in a difficult position to be rescued.

Although the safety car pulled in at the final corner, it was a virtual trundle to the line, with Hamilton told over radio after taking the flag: “Well done Lewis! That’s a clean sweep”, to which he replied: “Yeah man!”

Published: Sunday 12th April 2015 by The News Editor

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