Chinese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton beats Sebastian Vettel to pole position

While Australian Grand Prix victor Vettel rose to second as the race progressed, he was too far adrift to challenge Hamilton and the triple world champion came home 6.2 seconds clear to draw level at the top of the drivers' championship. Caution prevailed for most, with Carlos Sainz Jr. being the only driver to roll the dice and fit a set of super-soft tires for the start.

Hamilton got away cleanly and Vettel, who went unpunished for starting slightly out of position on the grid, had to fend off Bottas.

Lance Stroll failed to complete the opening lap in his Williams after making contact with Force India's Sergio Perez, triggering a Virtual Safety Car period, with Vettel among a number of drivers to pit to get rid of the intermediates.

Hamilton changed to soft tyres while in front when the safety auto went through the pit lane following Sauber reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi's early crash, with a wet track drying out.

Sebastian Vettel, who won the opening race of the season in Australia two weeks ago, finished in second place, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen coming in third.

Vettel, however, found himself stuck behind Ricciardo and the slower Raikkonen, even as Hamilton increased the gap at the front.

Vettel finally got past Raikkonen, who had complained of vehicle trouble, on lap 20 and two laps later beat Ricciardo with a thrilling move on the outside of turn six. In 2008, he beat Ferrari's Felipe Massa to his debut title by passing a auto on the last corner of the final lap of the last race.

Raikkonen pitted again to move team-mate Vettel up to second with the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Ricciardo behind him.

It was a day for the stewards with Vettel investigated but cleared for lining up on the grid in the wrong place, Stroll/Perez for the lap 1 crash, and Kevin Magnussen for driving unnecessarily slowly behind the SC.

Vettel was up to the challenge of working his way back up the field, however, eventually passing Verstappen on lap 28, before unsuccessfully attempting to wrangle the lead from Hamilton.

- Lewis Hamilton has the most wins (5), poles (6) and podiums (8) at the Chinese Grand Prix.

As Lewis Hamilton celebrated victory at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday (Apr 9), much of the paddock talk was about Max Verstappen's astonishing third place for Red Bull.

Leading lights: Race victor Lewis Hamilton with second placed Sebastian Vettel (left) and third placed Max Verstappen.

Ricciardo was fourth ahead of Raikkonen and Bottas, who recovered from a spin under the Safety Car.

The Ferrari man, instead of being ahead, was down in sixth, although that quickly became fifth after the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas had spun. Good thing, too, as his teammate spun out behind the safety auto and as a result dropped back to 12th place.

Britain's Jolyon Palmer took 13th for Renault. Marcus Ericsson was the last classified finisher for Sauber in 15th. Stroll and Giovinazzi never returned after their early mishaps, and they were joined on the sidelines on lap 20 when McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat retired with mechanical problems.

  • Julie Sanders