Lewis Hamilton at par with Vettel after China win
- Author: Julie Sanders Apr 10, 2017,
Apr 10, 2017, 22:26
Starting from pole position, Hamilton led from beginning to end to capture the race in 1 hour, 37 minutes, 36.158 seconds and pull even with Vettel atop the driver's standings with 43 points.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen stole the show with an incredible drive, going from P16 all the way to seventh right in the first lap.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo passed Raikkonen but further down the field Lance Stroll beached his Williams after colliding with Sergio Perez's Force India, causing a virtual safety vehicle.
Hamilton changed to soft tyres while in front when the safety vehicle went through the pit lane following Sauber reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi's early crash, with a wet track drying out. Red Bull's Max Verstappen surprised the crowd as he fought his way up from 16th on the grid to secure the third place on podium.
Hamilton won from pole here but Vettel had the measure of him in pace - as he had when beating him at the first round in Melbourne - but was unlucky with pit stops behind the safety vehicle and was held up when stuck behind his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen walks in the rain.
With Verstappen struggling to keep his super-soft tires alive, the soft-shod Vettel was able to quickly close up on the back of the 19-year-old as the race hit half distance. "I honestly hope that Red Bull can improve during the season because I think a third element in the fight for the championship will be more exciting". Vettel immediately headed to the pits for what proved to be an unnecessary stop. Vettel tried to put some late pressure on Hamilton, turning up the wick with 15 laps to go, forcing the Mercedes driver to react and up his own pace, stabilizing the gap.
Lewis Hamilton is expecting some tight tussles with Sebastian Vettel during the season.
Meanwhile, Verstappen must now be considered as one of the greatest wet-weather drivers in Formula One history, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has claimed. On lap 40 Vettel set a new fastest lap with a 1:35.423. "We were matching times so if there wasn't a safety vehicle at the start it would have been much closer." he added.
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 by McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat, who retired with mechanical problems.
The same issue was discussed at the driver briefing at last year's U.S. Grand Prix after Daniel Ricciardo positioned his vehicle in a similar way on the Japanese Grand Prix grid. Will Räikkönen win his first grand prix since 2013?