F1 Chinese GP: Hamilton leads Rosberg in comfortable Mercedes 1-2

Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes reasserted their authority over Formula 1 with a commanding Chinese Grand Prix victory

F1 Chinese GP: Hamilton leads Rosberg in comfortable Mercedes 1-2

Nico Rosberg had to settle for second place, ahead of the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, in a race that was close at times without ever truly coming to life.

Hamilton had made his intentions clear by angling his car very aggressively towards Rosberg's on the grid.

He duly held his lead off the line, with Rosberg and Vettel stringing out behind the champion through the first stint.

The situation became more tense in the middle stint of the two-stop race, as both Rosberg and Vettel closed on Hamilton.

A frustrated Rosberg radioed Mercedes asking if Hamilton could speed up, as his tyres were wearing too much whenever he got closer than two seconds away from his team-mate's rear wing.

When Ferrari brought Vettel in for his second stop ahead of the two Mercedes, Rosberg was pitted a lap later in an effort to prevent his countryman getting an undercut on his new tyres.

But rather than his rivals' earlier stops putting Hamilton at a disadvantage, he was able to raise his pace considerably on his final laps on soft tyres.

Hamilton ran two laps longer than Rosberg and rejoined with a 6s cushion rather than the 2s advantage he had held prior to the stops.

Rosberg reduced Hamilton's lead slightly before settling for second.

A safety car appearance with two laps to go - caused by Max Verstappen's Toro Rosso parking on the pit straight in a cloud of smoke - made things even more comfortable for Hamilton, as the race finished under yellow.

Vettel was not a match for the Mercedes once all were onto medium tyres and fell away in third.

The Malaysian GP winner then came under late pressure from team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

The Finn quickly cleared both Williams on the opening lap to make up for his qualifying frustration, and though he could not keep pace with the top three at first, he ran long in his middle stint and made up ground.

Raikkonen was still 1.4s behind Vettel when the late safety car came out and had to be content with fourth.

Williams ran a lonely and distant fifth and sixth with Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, a minute behind the leaders prior to the field being bunched up.

Lotus scored its first points of the year with Romain Grosjean in seventh, but it was a wild race for his team-mate Pastor Maldonado.

The Venezuelan got ahead of Grosjean in the first pitstop sequence, before going down the pitlane entry escape road at his second stop.

A spin while trying to recover left him even further behind, and he then became embroiled in a spectacular battle with the McLarens of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.

After several fraught laps, this came to a head when Button hit the back of the Lotus at Turn 1, ending Maldonado's race and prompting a stewards' investigation.

Despite that, McLaren still got its first double finish of 2015 with Alonso and Button's battered cars 12th and 13th.

NEWS UPDATE: Button punished for Maldonado collision

Until his late engine failure, Verstappen was on course for eighth, having sliced through the field with some very accomplished overtaking.

But his problem completed a terrible day for Renault and the Red Bull-owned teams.

Daniel Ricciardo had tumbled to 17th with a terrible start and made heavy weather of coming back through the field to ninth between the Saubers of Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, which scored again.

Daniil Kvyat was also out early with a suspected engine failure, while Carlos Sainz Jr spun at Turn 1 in the opening laps and later lost time with a gearbox problem before finishing between the McLarens and Manors in 14th.

Force India spent a while in the points as a unique three-stop strategy for Sergio Perez shook out, but in the end 11th was his limit.

A gearbox failure ended team-mate Nico Hulkenberg's race.

RESULTS - 56 LAPS:

Pos Driver Car Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h39m42.008s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 0.714s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 2.988s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 3.835s
5 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 8.544s
6 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 9.885s
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 19.008s
8 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 22.625s
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 32.117s
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1 Lap
11 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
13 Carlos Sainz Jr. Toro Rosso/Renault 1 Lap
14 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1 Lap
15 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari 2 Laps
16 Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 2 Laps
17 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault Engine
- Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes Collision
- Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault Engine
- Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes Retirement

DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP:

Pos Driver Points
1 Lewis Hamilton 68
2 Sebastian Vettel 55
3 Nico Rosberg 51
4 Felipe Massa 30
5 Kimi Raikkonen 24
6 Valtteri Bottas 18
7 Felipe Nasr 14
8 Daniel Ricciardo 11
9 Romain Grosjean 6
10 Nico Hulkenberg 6
11 Max Verstappen 6
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. 6
13 Marcus Ericsson 5
14 Daniil Kvyat 2
15 Sergio Perez 1
16 Jenson Button 0
17 Fernando Alonso 0
18 Roberto Merhi 0
19 Will Stevens 0

CONSTRUCTORS' CHAMPIONSHIP:

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 119
2 Ferrari 79
3 Williams/Mercedes 48
4 Sauber/Ferrari 19
5 Red Bull/Renault 13
6 Toro Rosso/Renault 12
7 Force India/Mercedes 7
8 Lotus/Mercedes 6
9 McLaren/Honda 0
10 Marussia/Ferrari 0


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