Mercedes can’t be beat. From the second practice session on this weekend, they dominated the speed charts. But, for Lewis Hamilton, his car came a long way from being second and fourth respectively in both practice sessions on the opening day and fourth again on Saturday.
The five-time world champion got his car dialed in during qualifying and was never worse than second in all three rounds. He even qualified his No. 44 Mercedes on the front row in second too.
But, when his teammate and pole sitter Valtteri Bottas had a hiccup on the start, Hamilton got by on the opening lap and never looked back en route to his second straight win on the season and 75th of his Formula One career. It was also his sixth win in the Chinese Grand Prix (2008, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019). The Shanghai International Circuit becomes the third track with Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Hungary as places he’s won six times in F1 competition.
Bottas, finished second in his No. 77 Mercedes to earn his third straight top two finish on the season which gives Mercedes a 1-2 start in every race in 2019. The last team to do that was Williams in 1992.
Bottas, could never catch Hamilton once he was by as Hamilton has now led over 4,000 laps in F1 competition which ranks second ever trailing only Michael Schumacher who led 5,111 laps himself. The Finnish driver has finished runner-up in China two straight years now.
Since the start of the 2014 season, Mercedes has now won 77 of the last 103 races with Hamilton taking 53 wins.
The drama of the day unfolded behind the Mercedes duo. Charles Leclerc got by Sebastian Vettel on the start but Vettel wanted back by. The team kept telling the second year driver Leclerc that he was slowing Vettel up but he said to give him two more laps to see if he can pick up the pace. When the two lap deadline had passed, he was ordered to give up third. But, Leclerc pleaded his case that he actually opened a gap and to let him remain.
It didn’t work, Vettel was allowed by and consequently placed on the preferred pit strategy. That allowed the German to earn his first podium of the season with a third place result in his No. 5 Ferrari. It was Vettel’s 11th straight top 10 finish in China and fourth podium in his last five starts.
Max Verstappen stormed up to fourth for his third top four result of 2019. Verstappen, also now has three straight top five finishes on the 3.387-mile road course.
Leclerc rounded out the top five.
Last year’s winner Daniel Ricciardo earned his first finish of the season in a seventh place result. It was his seventh straight top 10 in China.
The drive of the day goes to rookie Alex Albon. He crashed hard in the closing minutes of the third practice session on Saturday which didn’t allow him to qualify. He had to start last in the 20 car field. That didn’t stop him from climbing all the way up to 10th in scoring points in his No. 23 Toro Rosso Honda.
Chinese Grand Prix Results
3 Ricciardo -1
11 Perez -1
7 Raikkonen -1
23 Albon R -1
8 Grosjean -1
18 Stroll -1
20 Magnuessen -1
55 Sainz Jr. -1
99 Giovinazzi R -1
63 Russell R -2
88 Kubica -2
4 Norris R OUT
26 Kvyat OUT
27 Hulkenberg OUT