Hamilton beats Vettel to Chinese Grand Prix victory

2011 Chinese Grand Prix review

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011

Lewis Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix after a thrilling conclusion to the race.

Hamilton passed his own team mate, Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and race leader Sebastian Vettel on his way to victory.

Mark Webber arrived in an unlikely third place having started 18th on the grid.

Hamilton was briefly under threat of not starting the race as the team discovered a problem with his engine before he left he pits to go to the grid. He made it out with only a few seconds to spare.

Once the lights went out McLaren’s race started to go better. Jenson Button burst past Vettel at the start, followed by Hamilton.

Vettel was left to protect his position from Nico Rosberg, who in turn had the two Ferraris behind him.

The leaders held station in the opening laps with just two seconds covering the top three. Button came in first but lost his lead as he bizarrely tried to stop in the Red Bull pit box where they were waiting for Vettel.

Vettel got out of the pits before Button, and Hamilton lost so much time on his worn soft tyres that he dropped behind Felipe Massa before pitting.

Rosberg made his pit stop early and took the lead after the Ferrari drivers had come in. But while Mercedes and McLaren committed to a three-stop strategy, Ferrari and Vettel would only make one more stop.

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2011

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2011

Rosberg and the McLarens made their second stops and quickly began catching the leaders again. Fernando Alonso was particularly slow in his middle stint and all three came past him very easily.

Vettel and Massa made their last stops, leaving Rosberg in the lead once again. But Button dropped off the pace and Hamilton pounced at turn one to take second place.

Their final round of pit stops set up an exciting showdown to the chequered flag with Vettel and Massa nursing their hard tyres and Hamilton closing in.

He made a couple of attempts at passing Rosberg and finally got through when the Mercedes driver was briefly delayed by Pastor Maldonado.

A little over a lap later he was past Massa as well and cutting into the gap to Vettel.

Meanwhile Webber had made an improbable recovery having started 18th. He passed Massa, Rosberg and finally Button to take third place.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2011

For almost two laps Vettel and Hamilton battled wheel-to-wheel but Hamilton’s superior pace, and Vettel’s apparent loss of KERS, eventually told. He pressured Vettel using the Drag Reduction System on the long straight, followed him closely around the opening corners, then dived past under braking at turn seven.

Michael Schumacher and Alonso had a length battle during the race and took the chequered flag with Alonso just in front of the Mercedes. At one point Alonso’s DRS was briefly open outside of the designated zone, though it seemed to have little effect on his race.

Vitaly Petrov and Kamui Kobayashi were the remaining points scorers.

Behind them was Paul di Resta, who defended 11th in a wheel-banging moment with Nick Heidfeld.

All bar one of the starters was running at the end. The exception was Jaime Alguersuari, whose Toro Rosso shed a rear wheel following a pit stop.

Hamilton’s win moves him up to second in the championship. Vettel’s winning streak may be over, but he still enjoys a 21-point lead in the drivers’ standings.

Full race analysis to follow on F1 Fanatic.

2011 Chinese Grand Prix

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225 comments on Hamilton beats Vettel to Chinese Grand Prix victory

  1. Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 17th April 2011, 11:58

    Such a shame for Nico he wrestled that car all day and didn’t get on the podium with only better cars infront of him. With the way it panned out on the first pistop he was a good distance away from Vettel. Nico would of won that race if he was in a Red Bull or McLaren.

    • d1sciple (@) said on 17th April 2011, 12:18

      He would’ve been on their strategy, so I don’t think that’s true. Rosberg really needs to work on spacing between cars. He got overtaken twice far too easily, where he could have ducked back and fought harder.

    • John H said on 17th April 2011, 17:04

      Making that mistake at the hairpin cost him 2 places that he may have been able to hang on to though. Pitting early also gave the impression that the Mercedes was faster than it actually was for the duration of the race. But you’re right, he should have maybe got 3rd.

  2. Mr Brooksy said on 17th April 2011, 12:03

    It was a brilliant race, but as far as I could see, the stand out drive was Webber. 18th to 3rd with no retirements from the top cars.

    Hamiltons drive was by far the second best. 2011 could become another great season.

    • David Johnson said on 17th April 2011, 12:12

      For sure Webber drive was great !! But best drive of day, I’m not sure ?? He didn’t have KERS but that means he has a car equally to the Mclarens in raw pace, remember vettel was 0.7 secs ahead on pole (maybe 0.4 in race trim) AND more importantly he had THREE sets of brand new options, 2 more that Hamilton who saved a set ?? Not to mention he had quite a bit of free air….Webber had a great drive…but it wasn’t as amazing at it seemed !!

      • John said on 18th April 2011, 13:04

        Webber started the race on Hard tires, so obviously he stopped only for soft tires during the race. Everyone on 3 pit-stop strategy whet for only one time on hard tires. Webber was the ONLY driver to start the race on hard tires. Considering the fact that he had a car which was atlest .7 a lap faster than any other car, I am not surprised.
        This has been done by quite a few drivers in the past, Im sure we can find atleast comparable drives from other drivers. I remember Kimi, Schumi and Hamilton doing something similar in the past but I dont remember the exact races.
        My drive of the day is still Hamiton, winning the race with the fastest car is not difficult for ANY of the drivers in the top teams, as always in F1, car is more important than the driver. A driver can maybe make a difference of .5 of a second but if ur car is HRT then its 23rd at best even if you are the best driver in the world.

  3. Everything almost like before. Red Bull Team learnt today they have a F1 supercar for really. If 3 stops ran like that for Webber since the 18th position I only can imagine the advance Vettel would put over all the field with 3 stops. Now Red Bull Teams knows for sure that they shouldn’t hesitate about the calculs around the extra stint: it’s a full advantage for them.

    • dim23 (@) said on 17th April 2011, 15:00

      Vettel could have done nothing, had he a 3rd stop, maybe end even behind both mclarens, like Horner said.

  4. Everything almost like before. Red Bull Team learnt today they have a F1 supercar for real. If 3 stops ran like that for Webber since the 18th position I only can imagine the advance Vettel would put over all the field with 3 stops. Now Red Bull Teams knows for sure that they shouldn’t hesitate about the calculs around the extra stint: it’s a full advantage for them.

  5. A superb drive from Lewis. The race seemed to have gone away from him somewhere around the start of the second stint. It was great to have Lewis show that he can take care of the tyres and make them work much better than Button. Sometimes i think that story is over milked. Lewis is no fool, he obviously can adjust himself to suit the conditions and today was ample evidence of that fact. Great tho that Seb did not win this one,I hope this is the beginning of Mclaren’s ascendancy.

    • Tupac (@) said on 17th April 2011, 17:49

      couldn’t agree more kho.

      people don’t believe Lewis can change his driving drive to conserve his tyres but i think as the season goes on you will see him get even better in this regard.

      great race from him today. in my opinion the best passer in f1 today with more raw pace than any driver on the grid. and that’s not only me saying that Alonso said it earlier in the season.

  6. Fixy (@fixy) said on 17th April 2011, 12:57

    I’m already thinking for who to vote in the best driver poll. Massa was superb, Webber was good until half race when he started going really fast. Massa’s result is nowhere satisfying for his race and he beat again Alonso, who has had three bad starts out of three. He drove matching Vettel and could have won if he had Rosberg’s strategy.

  7. pSynrg said on 17th April 2011, 13:01

    We all know Lewis Hamilton is one of the greatest ‘raw’ drivers the sport has seen. But at the same time we’ve doubted his credentials as a ‘complete’ driver (Alonso, Schumacher etc.)

    His heart has all too often ruled his head and he has ended up with far less than was available (even just last week!)

    I don’t know about you but I think this race weekend we have seen the continuation of Lewis’s growth with regard to the long game. So often one of his few weaknesses.

    Knowing pole was pretty much locked out Lewis (and team) decide to build some reserve for the race. Just pushing enough to make a respectable grid slot.

    Holding back at the correct points during the race, tyre and car preservation in mind. And then pulling out those reserves at just the right moment to strike and pull away.

    Vettel & Red Bull are in a league of their own right now and justifiably so. But Lewis and McLaren showed that with all the right moves, they can be beat!

    What a classic!

    • I do think if the fia get around to banning redbulls cheat wing then we will see a much less competitive red bull. I am still amazed they are still allowed to run it given the evidence.

      • Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 17th April 2011, 13:42

        Let’s see how quick McLaren is without the best engine on the grid. Can’t wait for 2013 when the contract runs out for them and having to use Cosworth engines.

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 17th April 2011, 14:00

          Mercedes would be stupid to stop supplying the only team that gets them regular podiums.

          • Dan Newton said on 17th April 2011, 14:18

            You’re right there Icthyes. What’s good for Mclaren is also good for Mercedes, even if it’s not their factory team winning.

          • Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 17th April 2011, 15:05

            Mercedes would be smart to put them with Red Bull if they were intending to get more, merc engine + newey + vettel + red bull = Game over

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 17th April 2011, 22:01

            Newey + Mercedes tends to = BOOM! though ;)

        • John H said on 17th April 2011, 17:09

          Aren’t they making their own V4s in 2013? No Cosworth required Britney ;)

        • Tupac (@) said on 17th April 2011, 17:53

          how sad?
          because your fave driver/team is unable to win you begrudge McLaren’s success.

          and for sure McLaren would not be using Cosworth since they are setting up their own performance engine division for their production and future race cars.

      • Toro Stevo (@toro-stevo) said on 17th April 2011, 15:06

        Do you want some cheese with that?

        Point out this obvious evidence to the FIA, I’m sure one of us armchair hacks are much better at picking apart the complex engineering of an F1 car by looking at still pictures and selected portions of TV footage than they with their years of experience are able to.

        • The obvious evidence is clear to see on tv. The wing should remain a certain height above the track. Also there was a great article linked by Keith discussed how red bull bought a cfd company specifically to model this type of deforming wing.

          • Pedal to the Vettel (@pedal-to-the-vettel) said on 17th April 2011, 16:59

            charley says it’s legal so get off your high horse Lee, enjoy the victory while you can since it’s unlikely you’ll repeat it in 3 weeks time when red Bull sort out the KERS problem.

            What cheese? last time I checked vettel was still 21 points infront for being the more consistent driver out of the lot. So you lot can just drink your pints of “bitter” after the european tour where you’re still nagging about the points gap.

          • John H said on 17th April 2011, 17:10

            Calm down Nico!

          • @Nico WDC ’11

            I am not sure if you are aware but Hamilton won the race not me. Although I would love to be one of the drivers I am not yet signed by any of the teams….. So I can enjoy the races but alas I have no grand prix victories to enjoy as of yet. Plus I am not aware Charlie has approved their method hence the tests being beefed up. Unfortunately the tests are out of date and need to be able to simulate the air flowing over the wing rather than the highly sophisticated method of putting weights on the end of the wings.

          • Toro Stevo (@toro-stevo) said on 18th April 2011, 1:25

            People are looking at symptoms and trying to draw conclusions about one component of a complex car. It’s difficult to draw a line between an outcome (in this case the apparent lower ride of the front wing) and its cause. But if their engineers deem it correct then that’s what it is.

            I’m just surprised nobody else has cracked it fully yet – which implies to me it’s more than one part and is a combination of lots of parts of the car, which is not easy to replicate.

            The cheese comment was to Lee, and probably unnecessary in retrospect (lack of edit). I can’t follow this tree structure but that’s where I thought I put it.

          • Lee said on 18th April 2011, 9:21

            @Toro Stevo

            Red bull have purposefully designed it to get around the test. They bought a CFD company that pioneered the method of combining internal and external force models and so red bull are able to design a wing that only deforms when air is moving over it. The tests are far to archaic to be able to cover this as all they do is put weights on the end of the wings to test deflection. Getting around the test does not mean that the wing is legal, it just means that the FIA are finding it difficult to prove it is not legal. The tests are there to verify parts are adhering to the rules they are not the rules themselves. As I have said in a post below, it is akin to an athlete (and yes this does happen) finding a way to take performance enhancing drugs so that they are not detected in the tests or by taking a new drug that the test do not yet cover. They are still cheating it is just that the blood tests can’t prove it. The big difference with these front wings is that through video and still images it is obvious that there is a lot of deflection that should not be there while the a performance enhanced athlete is just suspicious as there is no visual proof of the drug taking.

            Don’t get me wrong, I think it is extremely clever stuff, especially as they have had to work out how to lay the carbon fibre in order to get it to act this way, but it is still cheating as the rules state that the wing should be rigid and it clearly is not under race conditions.

      • Evidence that it doesn’t pass the rigidity test?

        • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 17th April 2011, 17:39

          Evidence that the rigidity tests aren’t functioning properly to rule out flexing.

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 17th April 2011, 22:04

            It reminds me of the famous “water-cooled

          • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 17th April 2011, 22:07

            oops, sorry about that.

            It reminds me of the famous “water-cooled” brakes where all the water would be jettisoned on the parade lap to make the car featherlight and then it would be topped up before weighing the car after the race as there was nothing in the rules that prevented it (funnily enough, did anyone else notice the guy stopping Hamilton from drinking water before he was weighted?)

            Similarly Red bull passes the test when stationary but have gotten around it on track. Though I do have to say it’s not as noticeable before which means the tests are having some impact and showing up Red Bull’s claims of innocence.

        • It is akin to an athlete taking a new drug designed explicitly to be untestable. Just because it does not pass the test does not mean it is not cheating.

  8. I would never have expected Webber to get on the podium – At best, I thought he was looking at a point!.

  9. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 17th April 2011, 14:03

    Yet another boring race where the winner won by saving tyres, oh wait ;)

  10. carlos said on 17th April 2011, 14:04

    One can not blame Massa or Alonso for the final positions today. The car has pace,the drivers are fine. How can Ferrari have this kind of strategy knowing these tires are dogs after a few laps. keep the cars on fresh rubber and forget about the rest. The final 10 laps told the story. Ferrari should have adapted during the race.

  11. carlos said on 17th April 2011, 14:05

    There are reports of Alonso complaining about the car. I disagree. Today the car did fine. The head honchos screwed it up.

  12. BROOKSY007 (@brooksy007) said on 17th April 2011, 14:14

    Bring back refuelling!!! The ban hasn’t really changed things for the better.

  13. explosiveface (@explosiveface) said on 17th April 2011, 14:42

    Classic race, and thanks to the magic of Australian television I am now watching it again.

  14. SupaSix-1 said on 17th April 2011, 15:34

    Keith Collantine says:April 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm
    Complete rubbish.

    I can’t believe after a race as good as that the best thing you can some up with to talk about is some silly nonsense about which drivers the commentary team allegedly prefer.


    Hi Keith

    I like both drivers but its always very obvious that the bbc f1 team do have a slight preference for jenson. This has always been very obvious to those who watch.

    I respect that a person in your position you wouldnt want to upset your fellow media/broadcasters. But your scathing comment to your site viewers/posters seems a bit hostile – Surely if many people are raising these opinions you should allow without having to be so hard on them – after all they have every right to voice their opinions on your site?

    If you really think the favouritism topic is so much nonsense…then it really raises a few questions as to how you interpret the issue. In my opinion also as well as many others…there is no doubt plenty of consistant hints by the broadcasting team of having more of a warming towards jenson…after all to start with DC, MB & Jake Humpries are a very good friends of jenson’s.

    Im just quite amazed how you have attacked this obvious issue.

    • Oliver said on 17th April 2011, 16:16

      You should hear the rubbish Brundle used to say about Coulthard, while Coulthard was still racing and he was his manager. You would have thought Coulthard was the best thing to hit F1 since Senna. Coulthard is a competent driver but he just didn’t have it

    • Ral (@ral) said on 17th April 2011, 16:43

      Well, if this bias is obvious, how about you come up with some specific quotes that shows this bias. Because I’m betting that for every gushing comment about Button, I can think of one made about Hamilton. Or Vettel. Or Kobayashi.

      And even if this bias existed, I think the commentary by Mark Brundell and David Coulthard is all the better for them showing that they are fans first and commentators second. And as long as they highlight mistakes as well as moments of brilliance (which imho they do quite consistently whenever they catch them), I really don’t see the problem if they keep their current level of (apparent) fanboyism.

      To paraphrase Keith: seriously, if after a race like today, all you can think to comment is “I wish the commentators weren’t so obviously biased against Lewis and in favour of Jenson”, then the only conclusion I can make is that you are not actually watching the race to enjoy it, but seem to be watching it to find fault somewhere. Anywhere. Because that was quite some way down the list of things to jump out at the viewers today.


    • John H said on 17th April 2011, 17:13

      Brundle was wax lyrical about Hamilton and his overtaking during the whole race. Even this quote: “Hamilton would have stuick on up the inside, that’s the difference between him and Jenson in this race.” How is that Button Bias? I don’t get this opinion at all.

  15. Mountain Man said on 17th April 2011, 16:08

    Nail biting race…..but Button Should have gone to Specksavers…….

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