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LEWIS HAMILTON (McLaren) took victory in the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix, making this win (his 15th in total) his first since Belgium last year and the first non-Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) win since South Korea last year. 😀

The 2008 world champion won the 56-lap race around the Shanghai International Circuit in a time of 1:36:58.226, at an average speed of 117.289-mph. Reigning world champion Vettel finished second and still leads the drivers’ championship, while his team-mate Mark Webber came home in third place after starting from a lowly 18th on the grid! Webber also set the fastest lap of the race on lap 42 with a lap time of 1:38.993 (123.172-mph).

Germans and Englishmen are known for wasting the good stuff, but Australians know how to treat free booze with the respect it deserves.

There was high drama in the McLaren pit before Hamilton had even left the garage. His fuel tank had overflowed and the fuel itself was leaking everywhere and in particular, near the extremely hot V8 Mercedes engine. But thankfully there was no fire and he made it out of the pit-lane and onto the grid with just seconds in hand. Phew!

When the red lights eventually went out, Vettel’s Red Bull bogged down on the line costing him his pole advantage and first place to Jenson Button’s McLaren as well as second to Hamilton before the charging pack had made it to the long and seemingly never ending Turn 1. Vettel soon found himself having to keep fellow German, Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) at bay. A bit further back, Felipe Massa had passed his Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso for fifth place.

The McLarens lead the way.

Lap 10 saw the only retirement of the race when the right-rear wheel of Jamie Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso fell off after having not been attached properly in his pit-stop moments earlier. Oops.

By lap 14 Button, Hamilton and Vettel were nose to tail and McLaren still hadn’t decided which one of their drivers to bring into the pits for a tyre change first. Vettel used his DRS to overtake Hamilton on the kilometre long back-straight to move up into second place. Button almost straight away dived into the pit-lane as did Vettel, releasing Hamilton into clean air and the lead of the Grand Prix. Major drama then unfolded in the pit-lane when Button accidentally drove into and almost stopped at Vettel’s pit-box. The 2009 world champion realised his incredible error just in time and quickly made his way to his McLaren pit-box which was the next one along.

Forget the shampoo Jenson, its glasses you need.

Vettel was unaffected by Button’s mistake and ended up jumping ahead of the Englishman as the pair exited the pits, Vettel eighth and Button ninth. Hamilton and the rest of the front runners made their stops around this time as well. For the next few laps I was really worried about Button getting a penalty, but fortunately the race stewards decided not to penalise him.

Ten laps later on lap 24 Mark Webber was told by his team that he couldn’t use his KERS anymore. You sense that the bad luck will never stop for Webber don’t you? Meanwhile seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) was fighting on track with double world champion Alonso for sixth place. Alonso eventually won the battle, but an eagle-eyed TV director noticed that while the Spaniard was still behind the German his DRS opened after the exit of Turn 14 where it wasn’t supposed to. Nothing came of this and Alonso was given no penalty because it in fact had a negative effect on him.

At just over 60% distance (lap 35 to be exact), Rosberg had a 2.4-second lead over Button who had his team-mate Hamilton’s front wing right up his gearbox down the back-straight. Button held on until the last corner and for half of the pit-straight, but Hamilton got a terrific slipstream from the identical car in front of him and sent one up the inside of his team-mate at Turn 1. Button tried to defend his position, but his efforts were all in vain.

Three laps later Hamilton pitted and was on brand new tyres which he had saved for just this moment and exited the pits in fourth place just ahead of Mark Webber. Yes Mark Webber! The Aussie was on a charge and had just outbraked Schumacher at the end of the back-straight.

With only 16 laps to go 7.6-seconds covered the top five drivers: Vettel, Massa, Hamilton, Rosberg and Button. But Hamilton’s tyres were a full six laps (20 miles) younger than those ahead of him. And just as in Germany in 2008, Lewis was on a mission.

On lap 45 Hamilton took second place from Massa on the pit-straight and was now only 4.6-seconds behind Vettel’s Red Bull. A lap later the gap was 3.7-seconds. Not very far away, Massa had Button giving him grief after Rosberg had gone wide in Turn 14 and allowed Button to take fourth.

By lap 50 Vettel had Hamilton to deal with while my nails had to deal with being acquainted with my teeth. Hamilton was prevented from passing Vettel at the end of the back-straight thanks to the world champion’s car placement, but Hamilton wasn’t to be denied victory and on lap 52 breezed past Vettel at Turn 7.

But the action was far from being over. Mark Webber had caught Nico Rosberg and passed him at Turn 6 on lap 54, and used his DRS to take the final podium place away from Button on the penultimate lap. Makes you wonder that Webber may have won this race had is qualifying gone to plan doesn’t it?

Hamilton took the chequered flag for a record breaking second time in China at the end of lap 56 with Vettel 5.1-second back in second with Webber an amazing third.

YES! It's been a while since Belgium 2010! 🙂

Button was exactly 10-seconds behind Hamilton at the end of the race in fourth, while Nico Rosberg scored his first points of the season with a well earned fifth place. The Ferraris’ of Massa and Alonso were sixth and seventh respectively and Schumacher was eighth – right behind Alonso as they crossed the line.

The rest of the grid had a relatively quiet race, with Renault’s Vitaly Petrov and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi finishing in the last two points scoring places (ninth and tenth respectively). Force India’s Scottish driver, Paul di Resta, narrowly missed out on his third straight points finish by coming home in 11th.

With this win Hamilton is now 15th on the list of all time winners list, one ahead of Sir Jack Brabham, Graham Hill and Emerson Fittipaldi and one behind Sir Stirling Moss. Hopefully Hamilton will draw level with Sir Stirling at the next race, Turkey.

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 3/19 Races.

Pos

Driver

Constructor

Points

Gap From 1st

1

Sebastian VETTEL (GER)

Red Bull

68

2

Lewis HAMILTON (ENG)

McLaren

47

21

3

Jenson BUTTON (ENG)

McLaren

38

30

4

Mark WEBBER (AUS)

Red Bull

37

31

5

Fernando ALONSO (ESP)

Ferrari

26

42

6

Felipe MASSA (BRA)

Ferrari

24

44

7

Vitaly PETROV (RUS)

Renault

17

51

8

Nick HEIDFELD (GER)

Renault

15

53

9

Nico ROSBERG (GER)

Mercedes

10

58

10

Kamui KOBAYASHI (JAP)

Sauber

7

61

11

Michael SCHUMACHER (GER)

Mercedes

6

62

12

Sébastien BUEMI (SWI)

Toro Rosso

4

64

13

Adrian SUTIL (GER)

Force India

2

66

14

Paul DI RESTA (SCO)

Force India

2

66

 

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP – After 3/19 Races.

Pos

Constructor

Engine

Points

Gap From 1st

1

RED BULL (AUT)

Renault

105

2

MCLAREN (ENG)

Mercedes

85

20

3

FERRARI (ITA)

Ferrari

50

55

4

RENAULT (ENG)

Renault

32

73

5

MERCEDES (GER)

Mercedes

16

89

6

SAUBER (SWI)

Ferrari

7

98

7

TORO ROSSO (ITA)

Ferrari

4

101

8

FORCE INDIA (IND)

Mercedes

4

101

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