Chinese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton leads another Mercedes 1-2 | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 14.04.2019
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Chinese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton leads another Mercedes 1-2

Lewis Hamilton's 75th race win in the 1,000th Grand Prix led Mercedes to a third consecutive 1-2. Hamilton overtook teammate Valtteri Bottas early on and never looked back. German driver Sebastian Vettel was third.

Before the 2019 season began, the talk was of a Ferrari team finally ready to challenge Mercedes dominance, particularly in the early races. As it turned out, the 1,000th Grand Prix turned out to be a similar story to the 999th and 998th.

A flying start from Lewis Hamilton edged him ahead of Valtteri Bottas before the first corner and the British driver never looked in any danger as he took the championship lead with a second consecutive win.

“We didn’t know where we would stand with the Ferraris," Hamilton admitted after the race. “But after that start the rest is history. The strategy has been on point these first three races. You can see how close it is between us all and we really don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”

Young Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc seemed frustrated by team orders to allow Vettel to go past him early in the race and the German said he was disappointed by his inability to challenge Bottas after that.

“I felt I could go faster but then it was difficult for me to find the rhythm," he said. 

Vettel's podium finish was his first of the season and he did at least come off better in a ding dong battle with Max Verstappen, who he held off impressively.

“Happy to be on the podium but they were too quick right from the start," the German said. "My race with Max was good fun... it was a good result but not a great result.” 

In truth, the 1000th race was no classic but Mercedes, who lead the constructor's championship by 57 points, are unlikely to care. Ferrari may well be left to pick up the minor positions, once again.

 

As it happened

Lap 56 of 56 - Hamilton wins the 1000th Grand Prix, his 75th race win, with Bottas claiming second for another Mercedes 1-2, the third in a row to start the season. Vettel takes third to get on the podium for the first time this season but there will be questions about Ferrari's strategy and pace.

Lap 56 of 56 - Lewis Hamilton wins the Chinese Grand Prix!

Lap 54 of 56 - Norris, who has limped through after that early collision, finally calls it quits.

Lap 52 of 56 - There's a suggestion that Leclerc has a problem with his gears, which may be why he's not making any ground on Verstappen.

Lap 50 of 56 - Hamilton asks his team if Leclerc has got the fastest lap. He hasn't, that still belongs to Vettel.

Lap 47 of 56 - Leclerc isn't really making as much ground as he needs to. He's currently making up about .5 seconds per lap. Not enough.

Lap 45 of 56 - The top two places look decided. The big question is whether Verstappen, in fourth, can hold off Leclerc and whether Vettel can hold on to the fastest lap.

Lap 43 of 56 - Leclerc finally pits and goes on to mediums. He falls behind Verstappen in to fifth. Meanwhile, Kvyat becomes the second driver to retire.

Lap 41 of 56 - That little tussle has also helped Hamilton, who now leads by nearly seven seconds.

Lap 39 of 56 - Bottas isn't going to wait for Leclerc to pit. He's had a couple of stabs at the Frenchman, who is on very old tires but manages to hold on for a time and help his teammate Vettel in the process. But eventually Bottas burns him easily on the straight.

Lap 38 of 56 - Vettel nicks the fastest lap point from Bottas.

Lap 37 of 56 - Both Mercedes now pit. Smooth as you like. Hamilton comes out still in the lead but Leclerc is ahead of Bottas. The Frenchman is yet to pit and surely will soon.

Lap 36 of 56 - Verstappen and Vettel both pit for a second time and come out in fourth and fifth respectively.

Lap 34 of 56 - Hamilton seems to be keen on the fastest lap currently held by his teammate Bottas. his lead is now back over five seconds.

Lap 32 of 56 - Leclerc is gaining rapidly on Verstappen now and will surely havea  crack at regaining fourth before too long.

Lap 30 of 56 - This is all pretty troubling for Ferrari, these early races looked like being their chance to make some early running but they don't really look anywhere near the Mercedes. Still a while to go but it's hard to see anything other than a third consecutive Mercedes 1-2.

Lap 28 of 56 - At the halfway point, Hamilton - who has led since turn 1 - is nearly three seconds ahead of Bottas. Behind them the Ferraris of Vettel (3rd) and Leclerc (5th) are separated by Verstappen. Ferrari's decision to let Vettel pass has not really worked.

Lap 25 of 56 - Bottas claims the fastest lap point and is just slightly narrowing Hamilton's lead. But keeping your tires in good shape could be critical here.

Lap 23 of 56 - Hamilton and Leclerc now both pit. The British driver keeps the lead but Leclerc is now down in fifth. He won't be happy with his team.

Lap 22 of 56 - Bottas pits, also on to a hard compound tire. He comes out behind Leclerc, who is yet to pit, but comfortably ahead of Vettel.

Lap 21 of 56 - As expected, Hulkenberg's GP is over. He's the first retiree of the day.

Lap 20 of 56 - This is a ding dong battle between Verstappen and Vettel. The Dutchman tries to take him first on the inside but locks up a touch and Vettel nudges back ahead. That won't be the end of that one you feel, the two collided in this race last year.

Lap 19 of 56 - Ferrari react immediately as Vettel pits. He just about emerges ahead of Verstappen, it's doubtful Leclerc will be able to do the same.

Lap 18 of 56 - Hulkenberg's race may be run. His Renault is in the pit and it looks like a mechanical failure. Then Verstappen hits the pits but this one is tactical, Red Bull obviously fancy a crack a Ferrari, Verstappen on hard compounds. 

Lap 16 of 36 - Vettel has not been able to take advantage of the opportunity. The gap to the Mercedes is growing while Verstappen, in fifth, is gaining on a frustrated Leclerc. Difficult to see a way back for Ferrari already.

Lap 14 of 36 - Leclerc does not seem happy about being ordered to let Vettel pass. "We do our job, stay focused, we do our job," comes the reply over the radio.

Lap 11 of 56 - The orders come over Leclerc's radio to let Vettel pass and the young driver obliges, allowing the German up to third. But can he challenge the Mercedes? He's about eight seconds behind but does seem to have a bit more pace than Leclerc.

Lap 9 of 56 - Giovinazzi, in the Alfa Romeo, is already in the pit lane. He didn't get off to the best of starts, while Kvyat takes a drive-through penalty for the clash on the first lap. He may feel that's a little harsh.

Lap 6 of 56 - Hamilton has control of the race and the fastest lap point as it stands, the Mercedes are already opening up a significant gap to the two Ferraris in third and fourth.

Lap 3 of 56 - It looks like Vettel's aggression at the start cost him a place, with Leclerc now ahead of him. Hamilton has extended his lead out to over a second. Replays show Kvyat managed to take out both McLaren's early on, with Sainz also in trouble.

Lap 1 of 56 - Hamilton gets off to a flyer and nudges ahead of Bottas. Behind them, Vettel has a little nibble at the Mercedes but can't get past. Further back still, Norris and Kvyat collided, with both dropping right down the rankings. The virtual safety car is deployed.

08:12 - We're almost there. The cars are just warming up their tires on the formation lap and Verstappen has already managed to spin his car. Still, he'll begin in fifth. The medium tires may not be the best choice today based on that.

08:08 - We're still going through the pre-race motions, albeit with a little more pomp and ceremony than usual. Just time to have a quick flick through some of the highlights of the last 999 races.

08:00 - Hello, and welcome to the 1000th Grand Prix. That milestone is sure to cause a few minds to turn backwards to the drivers and races gone by but there'll be no room for sentimentality once the flag drops.

Despite pre-season talk of increased competition from Ferrari, the Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton have taken charge early. The Finn and the Brit are separated by a point on the leaderboard and qualified 1-2 again. Even after two races, they lead 3rd-placed Max Verstappen by 16 points.

As always, the start will be critical to any chances of challenging the top two. The race will get underway in 10 to 15 minutes time.

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