F1 Chinese GP: Ferrari got even quicker in China - Hamilton

"Ferrari have done a fantastic job - it's very, very close", Hamilton added, referring to the difference in performance between the sport's top two teams. 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. "And Ferrari are at their best in years", Hamilton said.

"I honestly think it will stay the way it is", said Hamilton when asked if his rivalry with Vettel would remain a friendly one. But while that was happening, Ferrari kept Raikkonen out on his old soft tyres - hoping to get him to the end - despite the Finn growing increasingly frustrated over the radio at the handling of his auto and the fact he was losing time in traffic while his rivals were in clear air and on fresh rubber.

Vettel, however, found himself stuck behind Ricciardo and the slower Raikkonen, even as Hamilton increased the gap at the front. Hamilton's engineer said over team radio after the triple world champion took the chequered flag in China for the third time in the last four years.

Speaking on the intercom to his pit crew just as the race concluded, Hamilton promised to keep the momentum going forward.

Daniel Ricciardo fought hard to get on the podium but lost out to teammate Verstappen. We were both pushing and those last 20 laps we were really exchanging times.

Hamilton had a majestic weekend, leading in every lap of the race before clocking the best time of 1:35.378 on lap 45.

Ricciardo ended up in fourth position, followed by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in fifth and Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in sixth.

Also earning points were Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso in seventh, Kevin Magnussen of Haas in eighth, and the two Force India cars, Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, in ninth and 10th. He was fine but the real safety vehicle was called.

The Finn has failed to finish on the podium in both races this season despite Ferrari clearly having a vehicle to match Mercedes at the front of the grid.

Sebastian Vettel was in good form for the duration of the race.

Marchionne added that the safety auto, which was brought out after Antonio Giovinazzi crashed on the start-finish straight, probably cost Vettel victory.

"Naturally he wants to beat me and vice versa, but outside the auto there is admiration for the others' achievements and the way they drive".

Other retirements came from the likes of Fernando Alonso for McLaren who was forced to retire after fuel pressure on lap 33.

  • Julie Sanders