Lewis Hamilton nips Red Bull’s wings
Lewis Hamilton has broken Sebastian Vettel’s stranglehold on the 2011 Formula One world championship with a stunning victory in the Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton edged ahead of the German with a three stop strategy as Vettel’s tyres degraded towards the latter part of the race. Adrian Sutil managed to unlap himself from Vettel in the final laps such was the pace of Vettel.
Jenson Button had a scrappy event plagued with schoolboy errors despite positioning himself for a podium. He comically parked his McLaren in the Red Bull box in one pit stop. Button later underestimated a charge from Lewis Hamilton down the inside of turn one and allowed his teammate through. Button ultimately finished fourth after being eclipsed by a late surge by Mark Webber.
Nico Rosberg looked most likely to eclipse Vettel in the early stages with an early pit stop. However the Mercedes dropped off in performance as the car entered fuel saving mode prematurely.
Webber appeared to be doomed as he failed to capitalise on an optimistic strategy on hard tyres in the beginning. Webber’s poor qualifying performance allowed the Australian to save a bank of soft tyres. He scythed through the grid to eventually finish in third place, only a second behind teammate Sebastian Vettel.
The Ferraris failed to improve from their qualifying performance. Felipe Massa managed to finish ahead of his teammate Fernando Alonso and threatened to steal the limelight in the early phase of the race.
Renault did not repeat their podium performance of Australian and Malaysia as both Renaults endured a difficult afternoon. Nick Heidfeld was caught out by battles in the midfield and ultimately finished in 12th after a late tangle with the Force India of Paul Di Resta. Teammate Adrian Sutil was victim to an opportunistic pass by Sauber’s Sergio Perez.
Toro Rosso collapsed down the order after their stunning performance in qualifying. Jaime Alguersuari was the only retirement of the Grand Prix as his rear tyre was not secured fully during his first pitstop.
Both HRT drivers finished the race without any dramas. It was an encouraging weekend for the fleggling squad as the comfortably qualified inside the 107% zone and only ended the race two laps behind the leaders.