Lewis Hamilton coasts to fifth title at Chinese Grand Prix

Hamilton went ahead to win the Chinese Grand Prix 2017 with a comfortable lead of 6.2s over Vettel.

Hamilton crossed the line 6.2 seconds ahead of Vettel, the victor of last month's season-opening race in Australia.

Sebastian Vettel said the timing of the Safety Car at the Chinese Grand Prix meant he could not "use the momentum" after his early pit-stop, though he enjoyed his fightback to second. The four-time champion took to the inside of his team-mate Raikkonen at turn six on lap 20 and moments later he made his pass on Ricciardo.

"It's going to be one of the closest (title fight), if not the closest one I've experienced", Hamilton said on the podium.

"I didn't know whether we would be ahead or behind".

"It's always a lot easier when you've got a good gap to maintain. Because then when you come out on top, it's so much more satisfying".

The German, though, stayed second, fending off Valtteri Bottas in the other Mercedes, who had started third.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton steered clear of a chaotic start to the Chinese Grand Prix and coasted to victory ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in second and Max Verstappen of Red Bull who finished third.

The first crash came with Lance Stroll of Williams, who punted into Sergio Perez of Force India and was pushed into gravel.

Antonio Giovinazzi, who has replaced the unfit Pascal Wehrlein here, was among them, but after crashing in qualifying on Saturday, the Italian was at it again, losing control of his Sauber on a damp patch of the track and crashing into the pit wall.

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas completed the top-six, slipping back from P5 to P12 after spinning behind the safety auto. Hamilton emerged from the fray with a hold on the lead, but Vettel and Bottas slipped back several places and had to fight to catch up.

The goal was to increase the competition at the front of the grid - and two races into the season, the changes have certainly had an impact.

But despite driving a near-flawless race, Hamilton said it was trickier than it looked: "Today was very tough for us all", he said. This year, as well. We were a good match. The fight seemed to be between Hamilton and Verstappen at one point, but Hamilton had a gap of over 7 seconds, which was seemingly hard to close by now. My start was OK and then I realised that the intermediates had quite a lot degradation.

The first half of the race brought plenty of daring passes as the Ferrari and Red Bull cars jockeyed for position behind Hamilton.

The supersoft tyres proved to be the ones to be on, with Verstappen dispatching of Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo in short order to get up to second before the end of Lap 11. Team mate Romain Grosjean fought up from his penalised grid position for 11th as Nico Hulkenberg had an unhappy afternoon for Renault which included a five-second time penalty for overtaking under the virtual safety auto, and a 10s penalty for doing likewise under the real one.

Haas's Kevin Magnussen and the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon completed the top ten.

McLaren had a race to forget as Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were both forced to retire.

With the rain stopping in the hour before the race, the track started to dry and both Mercedes drivers joined Ricciardo in running to the grid on slick tires to test conditions.

  • Julie Sanders