Hamilton 'chilled' until F1 rival Vettel took second in Chinese GP

Lewis Hamilton said he was relaxed in the lead of the Chinese Grand Prix until Formula 1 championship rival Sebastian Vettel made it into second place

Hamilton 'chilled' until F1 rival Vettel took second in Chinese GP

Mercedes driver Hamilton led every lap at Shanghai, but once Vettel made his way past the cars that jumped him early in the race due to his pitstop under virtual safety car conditions, the two engaged in a battle of lap times as Hamilton tried to keep the Ferrari driver at bay.

"From the get-go I felt I had the pace to control, to be in that position," said Hamilton, who beat Vettel by 6.2 seconds to leave them level at the top of the standings after two races.

"I didn't really understand what was going on behind because I had the Red Bulls [in second and third] and the Ferraris weren't getting past.

"I was controlling it at that time, I was quite chilled at the front because I wasn't being pressured from the Red Bulls.

"But when Sebastian got behind, then we had a real race on our hands, but obviously I had that gap."

Vettel believed the timing of the safety car, moments after the race had restarted following the virtual safety car period during which he had made his early stop, was 'unfortunate' for his hopes, and Hamilton agreed.

"If there wasn't a safety car it would have been a flat-chat race, a couple of seconds between us the whole way," said Hamilton.

"We were very close in lap time and it was unfortunate that he got stuck behind the other cars.

"It's always a lot easier when you've got a good gap to maintain. When it's one second, it's pretty hair-raising."

Hamilton praised Mercedes' strategy calls during the race, including when to switch from intermediates to slicks early on, and the decision to make his final stop at a time that allowed him to maintain the lead.

"For me there was no risk to come in [for slicks]," he said. "It's often when you want to gain something, you tend to decide to take a risk.

"It was more of a risk at that time for me to come in a lap earlier, as I was still doing a decent pace.

"The strategists did the right job in terms of reacting to the scenarios.

"Now, having seen my tyres, I could have gone to the end of the race [without an extra stop], but we are still learning with these tyres.

"They felt OK still, but I didn't know if in 20 laps they would have dropped off the cliff and one of the other guys could have taken a different strategy and made it to the end.

"Luckily I already had a pitstop window so I could stop and still come back out in my position, so I took it."

shares
comments
Raikkonen says Ferrari should have 'done better job' on F1 strategy
Previous article

Raikkonen says Ferrari should have 'done better job' on F1 strategy

Next article

Daniel Ricciardo's Chinese GP 'came to life' after in-race change

Daniel Ricciardo's Chinese GP 'came to life' after in-race change
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