Lewis Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix for the fourth time with a clinical and controlled performance as he stopped Ferrari’s recent resurgence dead in its tracks.
He out drove his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg – who finished second – to claim his second victory in three Grand Prix’s so far this season, and his eight win in the last ten outings.
Hamilton and his team showed they had learned from the mishaps of Malaysia that lead to Sebastian Vettel’s shock win. The Mercedes drivers made their good qualification positions count as they looked comfortable from start.
They also effectively dealt with the Italians two-pit stop strategy and lighter-tyre usage by keeping the Ferrari drivers at arms length throughout, only using their true power nearing pit-stops. And that’s when Hamilton excelled, coming up to his two pit-stops he unleashed scintillating laps that were half a second faster than anyone else, including Rosberg.
Hamilton has now extended his lead at the top to a commanding 13 points, while Vettel’s advantage over Rosberg was dwindled to just four.
As the Shanghai sunshine beamed down, fans were left a little bit disappointed as the day lacked the drama and competition that had accompanied Malaysia. Once it was clear that Mercedes could handle their tyres the result of the race became inevitable, especially with Hamilton’s current form.
It hammered home the theme of the season so far, the Mercedes car is superior in terms of speed but Ferrari will be able to give the champions a run for their money on certain occasions due to their tyre strategy but not on a consistent basis.
The Scuderia did have some solid positive points to take to the next race however. They will be pleased with Kimi Raikkonen’s form as he pushed his Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel all the way in their battle for third. It was a strong performance from the Finn, on what was his first clean race of the season.
After the two top teams, Willams were comfortably the best of the rest in the claiming fifth and sixth respectively while a frantic battle ensued in midfield between Lotus, Sauber and Torro Rosso.
Pastor Maldonado of Lotus was looking a certainty for seventh when he suffered the misfortune of two spins, which dropped the Venezuelan too far back to recover. This allowed for his French team mate Romain Grosjean to claim the position he held for so long.
Misfortune also cast a shadow over Toro Rosso’s wonder kid Max Verstappen.
The constantly improving 17-year-old was on course to secure eight place after some fine driving but unfortunately he was forced to retire with three laps remaining due to a locked rear axil on the pit straight.
It was unfortunate for the young Dutchman but his fine displays so far this season has seen his stock rise significantly and he certainly looks like he could be a major star in the future.
Sauber driver Felipe Nasr then went on to claim eight ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who did well to recover from a poor start.
Mclaren has some good news as both their cars finished for the first time this season but not without controversy as Jensen Button struck Lotus driver Maldonado in what he labeled as a ‘misjudgement’. The former world champion was penalised five seconds, along with having points put on his super-licence.
Fernando Alonso and his team mate Button would eventually finish 12th and 13th while Maldonado retired with break failure.
The third race of the 2015 season belongs to Hamilton however, with this win underlining the fact that he’s still the driver to beat right now.
Hamilton’s and Mercedes search to develop a Dynasty of F1 greatness to resemble those of Ancient China is slowly, but surely, becoming reality.
Ciaran Darcy, Pundit Arena