Five. The number of Chinese Grand Prix titles Lewis Hamilton has now picked up. What was more impressive was the manner in which it was achieved. Finesse, pace, and control were just a few of the factors which separated him from his rivals.
Hamilton started the race from pole position and got off to a good start. He led from the front, keeping ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas. On lap two the virtual safety car was employed due to a collision between Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez. At this point, Vettel decided to pit in exchange for dry tyres. During this period Hamilton decided to stay out on the same tyres. Vettel was now lying in sixth place.
Another crash ensued shortly after which gave Hamilton the perfect opportunity to make his pit stop. The two decisions of when to change tyres led to the eventual outcome of the race. The Brit was able to control the race from this point until the end.
Hamilton roared to victory in style and with it sets up a ferocious season-long battle between himself and Vettel.
Although he did not win the race, he managed to obtain a very respectable second place.
The fact he did not start on pole position was one factor in deciding the outcome. It meant he started the race behind rival, Hamilton and due to the Brit’s pace from the start, it meant Vettel was always going to have to overtake.
The second reason for his loss was not down to poor driving. It was due to the point in the race when the pit stop occurred. Had he chosen to pit at the arrival of the second safety car, he probably would have caused Hamilton problems and would have been in a better position to fight.
However, the German should not be too disheartened because he did not lose the race, it was more that Hamilton won it, with better tactics and better driving to obtain the pole position.
These two will feature heavily in more classic battles.
Driver of the Day: Max Verstappen Proved Why he Could be a Future Champion
At 19-years-old Max Verstappen proved why he could be a future champion. Starting from 16th position on the grid, he battled his way through the pack and after the completion of one lap, sat in 7th place with some positive overtaking.
On lap 11, he successfully navigated past team mate Daniel Ricciardo at the Turn Five hairpin. He was chasing Hamilton, and fast. Although he did not get close enough to Hamilton, he certainly made a good impression.
From here on he was able to defend robustly and was able to hold onto the 3rd position. His bold approach to driving and confident thinking are the attributes needed to be a future champion – the Dutch youngster has these in abundance. That makes him our Driver of the Day.
There were five retirements in total, one of whom was Fernando Alonso. After driving well at the start, he successfully navigated into 8th place. He then moved up into 7th where he stayed for much of the race. His luck ran out though and he was forced to retire on lap 33 after his driveshaft failed him.
Stroll also had a poor day, after a collision caused him to retire without even completing a lap. Other fellow retirees include Antonio Giovinazzi, Stoffel Vandoorne, and Daniil Kvyat.
It was better news for youngster Carlos Sainz Jnr who finished a good 7th and Esteban Ocon fared well finishing inside the top 10. There were some good and bad performances but the racing was certainly positive this weekend.
The safety car influenced the race in a number of ways.
Firstly, it affected both Vettel and Hamilton, as already mentioned before. The decision of when to pit for Vettel was one of the factors which cost him and came during the time when one of the safety cars was deployed.
It also affected Bottas’ race, as his car wheels started to spin just as the safety car was deployed. This meant he dropped back to 12th position and put him in trouble. However, he recovered to finish in a respectable 6th place behind Kimi Raikkonen.
Let’s hope the safety car will not be needed as much in the next race of the season in Bahrain.
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