Chinese GP: Rosberg leaves frantic action behind to take dominant win
Nico Rosberg cruised to his sixth consecutive F1 victory as he left the frantic action behind him to win the Chinese Grand Prix.
The German, starting from pole, lost the lead to Daniel Ricciardo at the start but regained it on lap three and never looked back, crossing the finish line over 37 seconds ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.
It was Rosberg's third straight win of the season and the sixth since last year.
The win means Rosberg is now the non-champion with the most wins - 17 - ahead of Stirling Moss.
Vettel finished in second despite crashing into Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen at the start, the German charging back after dropping down the order following the incident.
Daniil Kvyat completed a trouble-free race and secured the final podium position for Red Bull.
Ricciardo finished in fourth, but was one of the stars of the race, the Australian having to recover from a puncture he suffered as a result of hitting debris on lap three.
Raikkonen also charged back from having dropped to the bottom of the field after his crash with Vettel, the Finn finishing fifth despite losing the front wing in the accident.
Felipe Massa was sixth for Williams, ahead of world champion Lewis Hamilton, who started from the back of the grid.
Hamilton's day was not without drama, however, the Briton also losing his front wing after making contact with the Sauber of Felipe Nasr on the opening lap.
Hamilton's car was damaged as a result, limiting his progress.
Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen finished in eighth, ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz, who overtook Valtteri Bottas for ninth on the final lap.
There were no retirements in the race.
Story of the race
Rosberg made a poor start once again, and Ricciardo took the lead at the first corner as teammate Kvyat flew off the line to move up to third.
There was plenty of drama behind, however, as Vettel and Raikkonen made contact, the Finn losing his front wing and the German dropping to eighth place.
Hamilton also made contact with Nasr at the start, the Briton having to pit for a new front wing.
Rosberg overtook Ricciardo for the lead on lap three, just as the Australian's rear left tyre blew up on the back straight. The Red Bull driver pitted for softs and dropped down to 17th.
On lap five, however, the safety car was deployed to pick up all the debris on track.
Several drivers took the opportunity to pit, with Vettel changing tyres and his damaged front wing, the German cheekily overtaking two cars as they joined the pitlane.
Hamilton also made his third pitstop during the safety car period, the world champion switching from softs to supersofts.
The race was restarted on lap nine, with Rosberg leading from Massa and Alonso, all three having not stopped. Vettel was down in 12th and Hamilton in 20th.
Rosberg quickly disappeared into the distance, lapping over 1.5 seconds per lap quicker than Massa, as Vettel made fast progress towards the front thanks to his supersoft tyres, climbing up to fourth in just six laps, although the Ferrari driver damaged his front wing again when trying to overtake Bottas.
Hamilton also flew through the field, the Briton up to 11th on lap 15.
Vettel pitted from fourth on lap 18, switching to soft tyres and rejoining in 13th, his team deciding to stick with the damaged front wing.
By lap 20, Rosberg had opened a gap of over 13 seconds over second-placed Kvyat, as Hamilton moved up to sixth.
Rosberg pitted for the first time on lap 21, sticking with softs and keeping his lead ahead of Bottas and Hamilton, who moved up to third after his rivals pitted.
The world champion came in for his fourth stop a lap later, rejoining in 14th with soft tyres on.
As the action continued to be frantic behind him, Rosberg's run towards victory looked unstoppable, the Mercedes driver 20 seconds clear of Kvyat by lap 28, the halfway point of the race.
Hamilton pitted for the fifth time on lap 31 - from ninth - and put on medium tyres before rejoining the race in 14th position.
With 20 laps left, Rosberg led by over 29 seconds from Kvyat, whose pace was good enough to keep Vettel around a second behind.
Both Vettel and Kvyat stopped at the same time, the Ferrari driver sticking with softs as the Red Bull switched to mediums. That made it easy for Vettel to finally overtake the Russian and move up to third behind a charging Ricciardo, who dropped down the order after pitting next.
Rosberg switched to the medium tyres with 19 laps left, leading by 27 second from Vettel after all the leaders had pitted.
Hamilton, meanwhile, continued his charge towards the front, the Briton overtaking Bottas on track to move up to fifth with 15 laps left.
But the Brit dropped down to sixth two laps latter, as Ricciardo flew past him in the Red Bull. The Australian continued with his outstanding weekend by overtaking Massa for fourth on the same lap.
Hamilton then came under pressure from Raikkonen - on soft tyres - as the Mercedes driver struggled to get past Massa. With the softer rubber, Raikkonen had no problems overtaking Hamilton for sixth and, a lap later, the Finn passed Massa to move up to fifth with seven laps left.
The world champion had to settle for seventh in the end, his Mercedes team reporting he was missing a lot of front end downforce because of damage caused at the start.
|3||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||+45.936|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||+52.688|
|8||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||+1:19.268|
|9||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||+1:24.127|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||+1:34.283|
|14||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas F1 Team||+1 lap|
|15||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||+1 lap|
|16||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||+1 lap|
|17||Kevin Magnussen||Renault F1 Team||+1 lap|
|18||Pascal Wehrlein||Manor Racing||+1 lap|
|19||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||+1 lap|
|20||Felipe Nasr||Sauber||+1 lap|
|21||Rio Haryanto||Manor Racing||+1 lap|
|22||Jolyon Palmer||Renault F1 Team||+1 lap|
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