Grand Prix of China – Race

After another mediocre Qualifying effort from Mercedes, Ferrari have taken the front row of the grid just as they did in Bahrain.

Provisional grid: VET, RAI, BOT, HAM, VER, RIC, HUL, PER, SAI, GRO, MAG, OCO, ALO, VAN, HAR, SIR, GAS, STR, LEC, ERI*
*ERI was given a five place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags in Q1 but he was already P20

Reminder: the top 4 are starting on the soft compound tyres on which they set their best Q2 time; the next 6 are on the ultrasofts they used in Q2; and the rest of the grid can choose which compound to start the race on.

Air temperature 19°C; track 39°C

VET leads everyone away on the formation lap
GAS is starting on the medium tyre – looks like he’s planning on a 1-stop strategy

01/56: VET defends from RAI
BOT steals P2
HAM drops back to P5 behind VER
VER past RAI too
HUL and SAI battling over P7

02: VET, BOT, VER, RAI, HAM, RIC, HUL, SAI, GRO, MAG, ALO, STR, OCO, PER, SIR, VAN, HAR, LEC, GAS, ERI
STR has jumped from P18 to P12 in the first lap

03: DRS enabled
VET fastest lap 1:38.417
Radio from OCO complaining about losing positions because of his teammate

04: VAN closing on SIR to challenge for P15

05/56: VET, BOT, VER, RAI, HAM, RIC, HUL, SAI, GRO, MAG, ALO, STR, OCO, PER, VAN, SIR, LEC, GAS, HAR, ERI
Replay of the start shows a little contact between ALO and PER but hopefully not going to be investigated

07: GRO lets teammate MAG past for P9
Radio from GRO – clearly not happy about having to let MAG past

10/56: VET, BOT, VER, RAI, HAM, RIC, HUL, SAI, MAG, GRO, ALO, OCO, STR, PER, VAN, SIR, LEC, GAS, HAR, ERI
BOT consistently about 2sec behind VET

11: HAR pits

12: OCO pits; new soft tyres going on
ALO attacks GRO for P10 but the Haas stays ahead

13: SAI pits, followed by PER
SAI goes on to mediums

14: HUL pits; mediums to replace his ultrasofts

15/56: VET, BOT, VER, RAI, HAM, RIC, MAG, GRO, ALO, STR, VAN, SIR, HUL, LEC, GAS, SAI, OCO, ERI, PER, HAR
GAS defends P15 from SAI

16: SAI attacks again; passes GAS this time; takes P15

17: Radio from HAM complaining he’s unable to close on RAI
SAI takes P14 from LEC
GRO pits

18: VER pits from P3; medium tyres
RIC pits too – arrives at the Red Bull box just as VER leaves
Radio for HAM – “do the opposite to RAI”

19: HAM pits; mediums; rejoins just ahead of MAG and RIC

20/56: BOT pits from P2; mediums go on; rejoins P3 well ahead of VER
VER f/lap 1:37.755

21: VET pits; mediums; exits as BOT is coming down the main straight; BOT clearly ahead of VET into Turn 1
HAM f/lap 1:36.878

22: HUL takes P10 from VAN

23: HUL closes on STR and easily past him for P9

25/56: RAI, BOT, VET, VER, HAM, RIC, MAG, ALO, HUL, SAI, SIR, OCO, GRO, PER, ERI, VAN, STR, HAR, GAS, LEC
MAG pits; rejoins P10

26: Replay of STR leaving the pit lane; VAN alongside through Turn 1; a little contact as VAN runs wide and goes ahead

27: BOT attacking RAI through T1, T2; takes P1
VET through too for P2

28: VET close enough to BOT to get DRS
RAI pits from P3; mediums go on; rejoins P6
BOT opens just enough gap to remove VET’s DRS

29: LEC loses the Sauber’s tail; just into the gravel trap but keeps it running and rejoins
Visible graining on BOT’s rear right tyre

30/56: BOT, VET, VER, HAM, RIC, RAI, HUL, SAI, MAG, OCO, GRO, PER, ALO, VAN, STR, GAS, SIR, HAR, LEC, ERI
GAS locks up, runs into teammate HAR; spins HAR; damage to both Toro Rosso
There’s a lot of debris left at the hairpin

31: Safety Car depolyed

32[SC]: VER pits; softs go on
RIC pits too; also softs
HUL, SAI, OCO all pit
Incident involving GAS and HAR under investigation
Replay of GAS running over the debris he caused
Replay of VER passing GAS on the pit-in, before the pit lane starts

34[SC]: Lapped cars are allowed to pass SC and unlap themselves
SIR pits
Radio from HAM – “fronts are super-cold”

35/56[SC]: SC in at the end of this lap
BOT, VET, HAM, VER, RAI, RIC, MAG, HUL, GRO, ALO, SAI, VAN, OCO, STR, PER, GAS, SIR, LEC, ERI, HAR

36: GRO attacks ALO for P9; SAI takes a look too; ALO stays ahead
GAS given 10sec penalty for the incident with HAR
RAI looks at VER into the hairpin; VER defends P4

37: GRO takes P12 from OCO
RIC inside RAI at the hairpin; steals P5

38: DRS enabled

39: VER takes a look at HAM; around the outside; HAM defends; VER runs wide; rejoins behind RIC

40/56: BOT, VET, HAM, RIC, VER, RAI, HUL, MAG, ALO, SAI, GRO, OCO, PER, VAN, STR, GAS, SIR, LEC, ERI, HAR
Replay shows no contact between HAM and VER
RIC all over the tail of HAM
RIC dives inside HAM into the hairpin; makes it stick – great move for P3

41: VER closing on HAM again
RIC closing on VET
Remember both Red Bulls stopped for fresh soft tyres under the SC; rest of the top 6 are on mediums
VER inside HAM to take P5

42: RIC uses DRS to close up on VET and blasts past the Ferrari for P2

43: RAI now closing on HAM
Radio from HAM asking if they should have pitted under SC

44: VER inside VET but VET slams the door; contact; they both spin
HAM avoids them; RAI passes HAM
Incident involving VET and VER under investigation

45/56: BOT, RIC, RAI, HAM, VER, HUL, VET, MAG, ALO
RIC squeezes inside BOT – there’s barely any room but RIC makes it cleanly to take P1

46: RIC, BOT, RAI, HAM, VER, HUL, VET, MAG, ALO, SAI, OCO, GRO, PER, GRO, VAN, STR
Radio for VET – “don’t give up”
10sec penalty for VER for causing the collision with VET

47: RIC f/lap 1:36.221
GRO makes a late pit stop; rejoins P20

49: RAI closing on BOT; RAI had a later pit stop so his mediums are slightly fresher

50/56: RIC, BOT, RAI, VER*, HAM, HUL, VET, ALO, SAI, MAG, OCO, PER, VAN, STR, GAS*, SIR, ERI, GRO, LEC, HAR (*time penalties to be applied)
BOT having to defend from RAI

51: RAI all over the rear of BOT

53: Half a look from RAI into Turn 1
VER closing on RAI, adding to the urgency of RAI making a pass on BOT
HAR pits, retires

54: BOT 0.7sec ahead of RAI, with VER just 0.5sec further back
ALO closing on VET

55/56: RIC, BOT, RAI, VER*, HAM, HUL, VET, ALO, SAI, MAG
ALO past VET for P7
Radio from VET whining that ALO pushed him wide

56 = final lap: RIC f/lap 1:35.785
Incident involving ALO and VET noted by stewards

RIC takes the chequered flag

Provisional result: RIC, BOT, RAI, VER*, HAM, HUL, ALO, VET, SAI, MAG; OCO, PER, VAN, STR, GAS*, SIR, ERI, GRO, LEC
DNF: HAR
*VER +10sec drops him from P4 to P5
*GAS +10sec drops him from P15 to P18

HAM takes the all-time record for consecutive points finishes, with his 28th top 10 finish in a row.
It’s the first time in the current turbo hybrid era that Mercedes have gone three races without a win.

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