Chinese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas to win

Lewis Hamilton won a processional 2019 Chinese Grand Prix for the Mercedes Formula 1 team ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Ferrari's challenge faded with a weak opening stint

Chinese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas to win

Hamilton hooked up more cleanly away from the start and nosed into Turn 1 first ahead of polesitting Bottas, while Charles Leclerc went by his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel to claim third place.

As the midfielders squeezed through the Turn 6 hairpin Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat caught a brief rear-end twitch, bouncing off Carlos Sainz Jr's McLaren and then interlocking wheels with Sainz's team-mate Lando Norris, who was pitched into the air.

That prompted a brief virtual safety car deployment so that debris - including part of Sainz's front wing - could be cleared.

Hamilton edged away at around half a second a lap in the initial phase of the race while the majority of the frontrunners settled into tyre-conversation mode - all except for Vettel, who was shaping up to pass his team-mate. Leclerc, for his part, was told to push harder or give way.

Ferrari quickly firmed up that instruction into a directive to let Vettel by, and Leclerc reluctantly complied at the beginning of lap 11 of 56.

But despite the swap Vettel made few inroads into the advantage of Bottas, let alone Hamilton, even though he was clearly flirting with his car's limits - even snatching a front-left brake and running wide at the Turn 14 hairpin on lap 13. Leclerc wasted no time in telling his engineer that he, now, was being held up.

As the Mercedes stretched into the distance, fifth-placed Max Verstappen joined the hunt for the podium by pitting for hard tyres on lap 18. That prompted Ferrari to pit Vettel to cover the potential undercut, and indeed when Vettel emerged on his new set of hards he was barely ahead of the Red Bull.

Verstappen made a DRS-assisted pass on the back straight and was ahead into Turn 14, but ran slightly wide and Vettel edged him onto the grass at the exit to reclaim what was now fourth place.

Ferrari was now committed to a long stint for Leclerc since he would inevitably leave the pits behind this battle - and when he did stop for hards, five laps after his team-mate, he was nearly 11s adrift of Verstappen.

Bottas pitted for hards on lap 22, followed by Hamilton one tour later, and as the world champion departed the pitlane the gap between the two Mercedes had shrunk to 1.5s.

But Hamilton stretched his legs again and strung out the gap beyond five seconds, and within 10 laps of pitting his only concern was whether Bottas had set the fastest lap of the race and thereby secured an extra point.

Red Bull moved first to trigger the next rash of stops on lap 36, bringing Verstappen in for fresh mediums. Ferrari responded by pitting Vettel a lap later for similar rubber, and next time round Mercedes brought both Hamilton and Bottas in for mediums as well.

That meant Bottas emerged in third place behind the out-of-sequence Leclerc and had a fight on his hands. For almost two laps Leclerc denied him until Bottas launched a textbook DRS-assisted move into Turn 14.

Once clear, Bottas pulled away as Leclerc fell into the clutches of his own team-mate. Ferrari brought Leclerc in for mediums on lap 42 and he was slow out of the box, leaving the pits in fifth place and over 15s behind Verstappen.

Though Leclerc tried to chip away at the margin, he reported gearbox issues later in the race - though Ferrari reassured him there was no problem - and Verstappen remained a distant speck.

Sixth-placed Pierre Gasly had a lonely race in the second Red Bull, running immediately behind his team-mate in the opening laps, but it was probably too much to expect him to run 19 laps on the softs. By the time he pitted he was well adrift of the battle with the Ferraris.

With two laps to run, Gasly was in enough space for Red Bull to swap him onto soft tyres for a tilt at the fastest lap. He set personal bests in the first two sectors and went purple in the last to sew up the bonus point.

Renault split its strategy by bringing Nico Hulkenberg in early to swap from soft to hard tyres on lap 12 while leaving Daniel Ricciardo out for a long first stint on the softs. The outcome for Hulkenberg was rendered moot when he was forced to retire five tours later.

Ricciardo then had a relatively uneventful run to seventh as the final three points-paying places became the most hotly contested positions in the race.

Sergio Perez combined a strong start - he gained four places on the opening lap - with a 20-lap first stint on mediums to secure eighth place from 12th on the grid. Behind him Kimi Raikkonen also ran a long first stint on mediums, fell behind the early-stopping Haas entries when he did stop, then made the best of fresher rubber to go by both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean to claim ninth.

Magnussen and Grosjean started ninth and 10th but stopped to get rid of their soft Pirellis early, before the race was 10 laps old, and lost track position as a result. After dropping behind Raikkonen, Grosjean ran 10th ahead of Magnussen in the second stint until both cars made early second stops.

This gave the Haas drivers further work to do to overhaul the likes of Lance Stroll and Alexander Albon. Grosjean came close to getting the job done but had to obey blue flags for Leclerc on the final lap, enabling Albon to hold on and secure the final point for Toro Rosso despite starting from the pitlane having changed chassis after his huge practice crash.

Race result

Pos Driver Car Laps Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56 1h32m06.350s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 56 6.552s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 56 13.744s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 56 27.627s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 56 31.276s
6 Pierre Gasly Red Bull/Honda 56 1m29.307s
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 55 1 Lap
8 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 55 1 Lap
9 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
10 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 55 1 Lap
11 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 55 1 Lap
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
14 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren/Renault 55 1 Lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
16 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 54 2 Laps
17 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 54 2 Laps
18 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 50 Accident damage
- Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 41 Withdrew
- Nico Hulkenberg Renault 16 Power Unit

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Lewis Hamilton 68
2 Valtteri Bottas 62
3 Max Verstappen 39
4 Sebastian Vettel 37
5 Charles Leclerc 36
6 Pierre Gasly 13
7 Kimi Raikkonen 12
8 Lando Norris 8
9 Kevin Magnussen 8
10 Nico Hulkenberg 6
11 Daniel Ricciardo 6
12 Sergio Perez 5
13 Alexander Albon 3
14 Lance Stroll 2
15 Daniil Kvyat 1
16 Antonio Giovinazzi 0
17 Romain Grosjean 0
18 Carlos Sainz Jr. 0
19 George Russell 0
20 Robert Kubica 0

Constructors' standings

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 130
2 Ferrari 73
3 Red Bull/Honda 52
4 Renault 12
5 Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 12
6 Haas/Ferrari 8
7 McLaren/Renault 8
8 Racing Point/Mercedes 7
9 Toro Rosso/Honda 4
10 Williams/Mercedes 0



shares
comments
Promoted: Charles Leclerc takes on world champion speed skater Tianyu Han
Previous article

Promoted: Charles Leclerc takes on world champion speed skater Tianyu Han

Next article

Bottas 'lost' Chinese GP with wheelspin on painted start/finish line

Bottas 'lost' Chinese GP with wheelspin on painted start/finish line
Load comments
The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move Plus

The historic clues that offer hints of Hamilton’s next move

OPINION: Uncertainty over Lewis Hamilton's future has persisted since the race direction call that denied him an eighth world title in Abu Dhabi last month. But while walking away would be understandable, Hamilton has time and again responded well in the face of adversity and possesses all the tools needed to bounce back stronger than ever

What the FIA must do to restore F1’s credibility Plus

What the FIA must do to restore F1’s credibility

OPINION: The first stage of the 2022 Formula 1 pre-season is just over a month away, but the championship is still reeling from the controversial results of last year’s finale. The FIA acknowledges F1 has had its reputation dented as a result, so here’s how it could go about putting things right

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2022
The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins Plus

The six F1 subplots to watch in 2022 as a new era begins

As Formula 1 prepares to begin a new era of technical regulations in 2022, Autosport picks out six other key elements to follow this season

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2022
Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1 Plus

Why newly-retired Raikkonen won't miss F1

After 349 grand prix starts, 46 fastest laps, 21 wins and one world championship, Kimi Raikkonen has finally called time on his F1 career. In an exclusive interview with Autosport on the eve of his final race, he explains his loathing of paddock politics and reflects on how motorsport has changed over the past two decades

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2022
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup Plus

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shakeup

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. Autosport breaks down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Formula 1
Jan 21, 2022
Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems Plus

Why new era F1 is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway. But instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022