Lewis Hamilton wins Chinese GP ahead of Sebastian Vettel

The start of the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit.

The Mercedes driver dominated the race in Asia from start to finish in wet conditions, with Ferrari's Vettel coming home second, in a duel that is tipped to define the 2017 season.

Kimi Raikkonen was fifth in the other Ferrari with Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton's Silver Arrows colleague, sixth in the provisional race results.

Like Hamilton, Vettel said he would relish the battle continuing for the rest of the season.

Vettel's hopes of catching Hamilton in China were hampered by the appearance of the safety vehicle after Sauber's Antonio Giovinazzi crashed, which allowed Hamilton to pit for a tyre change without losing ground.

The Scuderia Ferrari driver ended up just 6.250 seconds behind race victor Lewis Hamilton, but did so after running fifth in the laps after the safety auto, when he was caught up by its timing having already stopped for slick tyres during the virtual safety vehicle a few laps earlier.

The German lost out, however, as there was a full safety vehicle period a few laps later when Sauber sub Antonio Giovinazzi aquaplaned on the start-finish straight and put his auto in the barriers for the second times in two days. 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.

Hamilton's fastest lap in Shanghai bettered Michael Schumacher's 2004 timing by over half a second.

Lewis Hamilton thinks the battle to be crowned Formula One champion this year could be the closest ever after he won a dramatic Chinese Grand Prix.

"Today was very, very tough for us all", said Hamilton on the podium.

"I think it's going to be the closest championship race I've been involved in".

With an engine issue preventing Raikkonen from getting close to Ricciardo in third, Vettel opted to take matters into his own hands on Lap 20, diving down the inside at Turn 6 to relieve his teammate of fourth place.

By the time Vettel managed to get past, with a series of spectacular overtaking moves that included banging wheels with his former team-mate, Hamilton was too far ahead.

"Obviously, we were a little unfortunate with the safety auto early on, but even if it wasn't there, you never know how it could have impacted on the race", he said.

With fresh boots, Verstappen quickly began to create a problem for the lead drivers. I am very happy to be on the podium.

Seventh spot went to Sainz in the Toro Rosso, eighth to Magnussen in the Haas, and ninth and 10th to the Force Indias of Perez and Ocon.

  • Julie Sanders