In the most exciting race of the season so far as McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton ended Sebastian Vettel’s 2011 winning streak.
Mark Webber drove a stonking race finishing an impressive 3rd having started from 18th on the grid ahead of the second McLaren of Jenson Button.
Before the race start there was a scare for Lewis Hamilton when his car flooded in the garage leaving mechanics scrambling to get it started in time for the race. Eventually, the Brit made it out of the garage with seconds to spare a testament to the McLaren pit mechanics.
Vettel, who began the day on pole, had a poor start allowing both McLarens to pass him at the first corner. Although Rosberg also challenged hard, Vettel was able to hold him off. Mercedes brought Rosberg in on Lap 12 to allow the German fresh tyres and clean air.
Hamilton’s tyres then began to go off allowing Vettel to pass thanks to the DRS wing. Button and Vettel then pitted together however Button’s concentration lapsed and he pulled into the Red Bull pit stop box before realising his error and moving onto McLarens. Despite the mix up, the Red Bull team worked well and managed to get Vettel out ahead of Button.
On his in-lap, Hamilton was passed by Ferrari’s Felipe Massa whilst Rosberg found that his early pitstop found him in the lead, ahead of Vettel by 5 seconds with Button, Massa and Hamilton close behind.
The McLarens decided to opt for a three-stop strategy, whilst Vettel went for a two-stop. At the half way stage, Vettel and Massa were fourth and fifth behind Rosberg and the McLarens however everyone was lapping at a pretty even pace meaning the three-stopped were unable to eke out the advantage that they needed.
Hamilton was having a fantastic race, quickly passing his team-mate on lap 35 before catching the two-stopping Rosberg. He then caught and passed Massa with ease. By lap 50, he had caught Vettel however it was another couple of laps before he found a way past the German.
Rosberg then found that his tyres were just too old to resist the three-stopping cars. On trying to pass Massa, he ran wide and was overtaken by Button who then quickly overtook the Ferrari too.
Meanwhile, Mark Webber was having an outstanding race. His first stint on hard tyres saw him do little however he chose to make three stops leaving his soft tyres until the last stint. This strategy was a stroke of genius as it found him with a massive performance advantage as the rest of the field was on hard tyres. At one point, the Australian was lapping at around 3 seconds faster than anyone else on the track. On the penultimate lap, he caught and overtook Jenson Button earning himself a podium finish.
The only retirement of the day was the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari who lost a wheel following a pit stop, narrowly avoiding marshals and photographers. His team-mate also had a disappointing race finishing 14th overall.
Paul di Resta did well managing to finish 11th. His team-mate Adrian Sutil had his race spoilt when the Sauber of Sergio Perez slid into him.
2011 Chinese Grand Prix – Provisional Race Results
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1h36:58.226
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 5.198
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 7.555
4. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 10.000
5. Rosberg Mercedes + 13.448
6. Massa Ferrari + 15.840
7. Alonso Ferrari + 30.622
8. Schumacher Mercedes + 31.206
9. Petrov Renault + 57.404
10. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1:03.273
11. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1:08.757
12. Heidfeld Renault + 1:12.739
13. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1:30.189
14. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:30.671
15. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
16. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault + 1 lap
17. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
18. Maldonado Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
19. Trulli Lotus-Renault + 1 lap
20. D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
21. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
22. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
23. Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
Fastest lap: Webber, 1:38.993