Hamilton leads home Rosberg to secure Mercedes 1-2 in China

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Lewis Hamilton led home Nico Rosberg to record a comfortable Chinese Grand Prix victory.

Hamilton saw off the early challenge of Rosberg to secure Mercedes’ second 1-2 of the year, ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, in a race that finished behind the safety car.

Hamilton led the field away from pole as he covered Rosberg on the run down to Turn 1, while Vettel defended third from Felipe Massa.

Kimi Raikkonen forced his way past both the Williams team-mates to take fourth on the opening lap, as Daniel Ricciardo tumbled down the order to 17th in the Red Bull after bogging down off the grid.

Hamilton settled into an early lead, pulling a second clear of his Mercedes team-mate as the pair pulled away from the two Ferraris, dropping Vettel and Raikkonen by six seconds ahead of the first round of stops.

Vettel was the first of the front runners in, stopping on lap 14 and switching to a set of the faster soft Pirelli tyres, with Hamilton pitting from the lead a lap later, moving onto the same rubber to cover Ferrari.

Rosberg, promoted into the lead by Hamilton’s stop, was in for the option tyres on lap 16, rejoining two seconds adrift of his team-mate, but ahead of both Ferraris.

The German shadowed Hamilton throughout the stint, calling via team radio for his team-mate to up the pace, as Vettel closed in third.

The Ferrari racer was in for his second and final stop on lap 31, moving onto the medium tyres in an attempt to undercut Rosberg, who followed his compatriot in for fresh rubber a lap later.

Rosberg rejoined third, ahead of Vettel, but with his advantage cut to just 1.6s, while out front Hamilton pumped in a series of new fastest laps ahead of his final stop.

The reigning champion was in at the end of lap 32 to move onto the medium Pirelli rubber, and was promoted back into the lead when Raikkonen stopped a lap later in the second Ferrari.

Hamilton eased away from Rosberg in the final stint, while Raikkonen closed on Vettel in the sister Ferrari for third, only for the Finn to have his charge halted by a late safety car after an engine failure for Max Verstappen.

The safety car peeled off on the final lap, allowing Lewis Hamilton to lead home team-mate Nico Rosberg to secure a Mercedes 1-2, with the two Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen third and fourth.

Felipe Massa beat Valtteri Bottas to fifth, in a lonely race for the two Williams team-mates.

Romain Grosjean scored his first points in nearly a year with a run to seventh for Lotus, ahead of Felipe Nasr in the Sauber, who inherited eighth late on following Verstappen’s retirement.

Daniel Ricciardo bounced back from an awful start to finish ninth, while Marcus Ericsson collected the final point on offer in tenth in the second Sauber.

Sergio Perez was 11th for Force India, ahead of the two McLarens of Fernando Alonso, and Jenson Button.

It was a tough race for Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr., who spun early on, and briefly slowed with a gearbox problem, on route to 14th.

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Will Stevens led home his Manor team-mate Roberto Merhi in 15th, as both cars finished a race for the first time this season.

Nico Hulkenberg was an early retirement with a gearbox problem, while Daniil Kvyat was forced out of the race with a spectacular engine failure.

Pastor Maldonado ran in the points early on, but spoilt his race after running wide at the pit entry, which dropped him down the order.

The Lotus racer raced with Button late on, but was forced into retirement with a brake failure after a clash with the 2009 champion at Turn 1.

This report first appeared on Richland F1 – Images courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS

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