Lewis Hamilton scored his second win of the 2015 Formula 1 World Championship at Shanghai in China, leading from start to finish to extend his lead in the points race.
The anticipated challenge of Malaysian GP winners Ferrari failed to ignite, and Sebastian Vettel effectively finished a distant third behind Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg, and ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton lined up aggressively on the grid, pointing towards the inside of the track, but made a perfect getaway to lead Rosberg and Vettel into Turn 1.
Felipe Massa’s Williams made a poor start from fourth, with the second Williams of Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari's Raikkonen getting past him, with Kimi then pulling a move on Bottas to take fourth at Turn 6.
The Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams cars then ran in tandem until the chequered flag, in a race devoid of any major dramas between the leading runners.
The race ended under the safety car after Max Verstappen's Toro Rosso blew up with a couple of laps remaining. Marshals toiled to remove the car through a gap in the pitwall.
Strategy battle falls flat
Vettel took the soft tyre on lap 14, rejoining behind Rosberg and then made his second stop for the medium on lap 30. That forced Rosberg to cover him, as Vettel charged on his out lap, the gap between them 1.7s as Rosberg rejoined on lap 32.
But Ferrari had nothing for Mercedes on the medium tyre, and Vettel fell away from the start of the final stint.
Hamilton took his second softs on lap 15, and his mediums on lap 34. He unleashed some fabulous laptimes before his final stop that established a solid buffer to Rosberg, and his only complaints was his seat getting hot as it has done all weekend.
Raikkonen stayed out later than his rivals on his second set of mediums, pitting on lap 35, but couldn’t use his fresher tyres to make an impact at the end.
Williams took mediums for the second and third stints, but they were well off Ferrari’s pace. Having dropped behind Bottas at the start, Massa passed him at Turn 6 on the opening lap and stayed ahead of him until the finish.
Verstappen injects some excitement
Toro Rosso’s teenaged rookie Max Verstappen was a star of the race, pulling some fantastic overtaking moves. He mugged Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson at the hairpin on lap nine, and pulled a great move on Sergio Perez in the final stint for eighth, behind the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.
He was heading to a second points finish when his car's engine exploded on the start/finish straight with two laps to go.
The second Lotus of Pastor Maldonado should have been in the points, and he even undercut his teammate Grosjean after the first stint. But he overshot the pitlane entry at his second stop, almost joining the marshals, and then suffered a high-speed spin.
His battle with the McLarens of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso kept the race interesting in the final stint, until Button punted Maldonado into a spin at Turn 1 with seven laps remaining.
Disastrous day for Red Bull
Daniel Ricciardo made a dreadful start, dropping back from seventh on the grid to the tail of the field. He quickly became embroiled in an elbows-out fight with teammate Daniil Kvyat, who was running the harder tyre from the start.
Despite being told to “not hold Daniel up”, they battled for half a lap until Ricciardo was allowed past.
Kvyat blew up on lap 17, making a fiery exit, while Ricciardo had to fight back through the field, battling Saubers – took a couple of laps to get past Ericsson in both his second and third stints.
He managed to drag the car back into the top 10, but couldn’t catch the Sauber of Felipe Nasr by the finish. Verstappen's exit promoted Ericsson into the points.
Out of the points were Perez, Alonso, Button, Carlos Sainz (who lost time when his gearbox failed temporarily), Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.
|01||L. Hamilton||Mercedes||56 laps||25|
|09||D. Ricciardo||Red Bull||+32.117||2|
|10||M. Ericsson||Sauber||+1 lap||1|
|11||S. Pérez||Force India||+1 lap|
|12||F. Alonso||McLaren||+1 lap|
|13||J. Button||McLaren||+1 lap|
|14||C. Sainz||Toro Rosso||+1 lap|
|15||W. Stevens||Manor||+2 laps|
|16||R. Merhi||Manor||+2 laps|
|17||M. Verstappen||Toro Rosso||+4 laps|
|19||D. Kvyat||Red Bull||DNF|
|20||N. Hülkenberg||Force India||DNF|