Lewis Hamilton wins the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix in a convincing Mercedes 1-2, and Ferrari’s Vettel takes third place thanks to team orders.
There was an expectation that Ferrari would show their mettle in China after Charles Lecelrc’s impressive drive in Bahrain a fortnight ago, and take the fight fully to the Silver Arrows. But it didn’t happen.
The writing was on the wall for Ferrari’s ambitions in China after qualifying saw Bottas grab pole and Mercedes lock-out the front row, and the race was no different.
But it was Hamilton who struck first, sailing past Bottas at the start to claim the lead, a lead he never gave up for the rest of the race, taking a clear win from Bottas and putting himself in the championship lead for the first time this season, six points clear of Bottas.
Behind the Mercedes pair it was Sebastian Vettel taking the last podium place in third with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in fourth and Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc in fifth. And therein lies a story which may have big implications on the rest of the season for Ferrari.
On lap 11, Ferrari ordered Leclerc to make way for Vettel – despite Leclerc claiming he was quicker – leaving Vettel with clear air to head after the Mercedes due – but with Leclerc now attached to his tail.
And when Verstappen stopped first for fresh rubber, Ferrari favoured Vettel and brought him in for a tyre change first to counter the move by Red Bull, with Vettel coming out just ahead of Verstappen. Lecleerc was left out on rapidly deteriorating tyres for a further four laps, and when he finally pitted he emerged a full 11 seconds behind Vettel and Verstappen.
Behind Leclerc it was Gasly in the Red Bull, Ricciardo on the Renault, Perez in the Racing Point, Raikkonen in the Alfa and Albon for Toro Rosso in the final points place.
McLaren’s race was arguably worse than their qualifying, with Lando Norris retiring on the first lap after Kvyat sent him fling on lap one, and Sainz only managing 14th. The Williams of Russell and Kubica were the last of the finishers, two laps behind the winners.