Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Shanghai, 2011

Hamilton beats Vettel to Chinese Grand Prix victory

2011 Chinese Grand Prix reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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.

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225 comments on “Hamilton beats Vettel to Chinese Grand Prix victory”

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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

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

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

          2. 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

          3. Newey + Mercedes tends to = BOOM! though ;)

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

        3. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

          2. Calm down Nico!

          3. @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.

          4. 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.

          5. @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.

      3. Evidence that it doesn’t pass the rigidity test?

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

          1. It reminds me of the famous “water-cooled

          2. 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.

        2. 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.

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

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

  5. 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.

    1. Alonso did fine the last 10 laps. Massa shouldn’t have tried to follow Vettel so closely. He simply ruined his tyres too early.

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

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

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

  9. 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.

    1. 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

    2. 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.


    3. 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.

  10. Mountain Man
    17th April 2011, 16:08

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

  11. This race has made me proud to be a formula one fan. Overtaking and various strategies throughout the race, hats off to all the drivers for a brilliant race.

  12. Great race, and in my opinion not ruined by Legard shouting all over it.. thank you BBC.

  13. Christopher Vissing
    17th April 2011, 17:44

    1 retirement, 23 to the flag.. that’s a hell lot of finishers!!
    Fantastic race!

  14. yep it was a great grand prix and the bbc commentary was enjoyable…. for once!

  15. matthewf1 (@)
    17th April 2011, 18:08

    Such a good race, so glad I got up this morning. The tyres really made things interesting, and it was great to try and work out where drivers would come out after pit stops and what the final order might be.

    It’s amazing what a difference a week makes. Last week Lewis was nowhere on hard tyres but he seemed the best on them today.

    Webber was superb, he proved me wrong today with a drive I didn’t think he could manage, so credit to him.

    Really pleased to see Nico leading for a while, shame he couldn’t keep the pace up, and Schumi definitely looked more like his old self, some of his overtaking was a treat to watch.

    Lots of discussion on the commentary it seems. I think it is quite poor to be honest. I like DC, but Brundle, well you can actually hear him sweating trying to keep up. They seem to miss a lot every week, like today they took ages to realise that Nico was leading after the first round of pit stops. Last week they forgot Webber had a fourth stop to make even though they said he was on a four-stopper earlier in the race. And Brundle definitely favours Jenson. I think he’s a bit jealous of Lewis’s success, same goes for Schumi, who he also doesn’t seem to like.

    In summary, a super race! Roll on Turkey!

    1. I have to say the TV feed was incredibly poor too. How often was a battle going on for position while the camera was following two drivers doing basically nothin special?

      1. yeah it happens all the time u got 2 drivers battling and we see the crew sat in the pit lol

    2. yeah schumi drove well i thought. had a great battle with fernando. 2 drivers racing very well wheel to wheel. good to see

    3. In a very relative sense, I can’t believe you’re knocking Brundle to be honest.

  16. I`m POlish, and also a big Kubica`a fan.I really miss this guy, but from today Hamilton is my God. This driver is just awesome. Complete driver. Aggressive when he suppose to be, not losing his head, clever, brilliant overtaker. I`m loving this season even Robert is there, probably any more. Congratulations Brit-People for having HAM.

  17. I`m loving this season even Robert is not there…….I wanted to say

  18. Most of the time Keith lets the fans do the talking on f1fanatic and offers his own take on matters without necessarily taking sides. It’s an admirable and engaging approach and is fundamental to a successful blog.

    Today however I can only 100% agree with Keith’s stance against people accusing the BBC commentary duo of having any particular bias for any driver(s).

    All they can be accused of is being out and out fans of F1 and motor racing in general and of course they celebrate their fellow countryman’s success just as much as the ‘next guy’. But never do they fail to see and acknowledge any other notable event by any other driver in a race.

    Brundle’s an absolute legend in my book, Coulthard is still getting used to the role. This race was phenomenal and they both did nothing but convey that.

    1. Oops, sorry, misplaced post…

  19. One of the best Grand Prix’s i have seen and also one of the best drives i have seen from Hamilton. Even the most hardened Hamilton Haters have to agree that pound for pound he is in the top 3 drivers in F1 (number one in my opinion)

    Great race for Webber aswell, to get podium was just unbelievable. Also have to mention Rosberg. Great drive and if it wasn’t for his critical fuel levels he could of had more influence on the race at the end.

    Overall Fantastic race. PROUD F1 FAN :)

  20. This was the best Grand Prix I have watched in 14 consecutive seasons of not missing a single race! Edge of seat stuff all the way. Wall to wall triumphs and disasters. It was so exciting, I buried old enmities. I forgave Fernando, enjoyed Nico’s pace, revelled in Vettel’s energy, loved the commentary for the first time ever and even managed to enjoy DC’s contributions! Lewis was a star, as were Mark Webber, Felipe Massa, Paul Di Resta, Kobayashi, Schumi, Petrov, Perez and Kovalainen. Also felt really sorry about Jenson’s understandable mistake ( his pit box all last year). Can we have lots more races like these – please?

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