Lewis Hamilton drove a commanding race to beat teammate Valtteri Bottas to victory in China, as Formula One celebrated its 1000th race.
Hamilton surged past polesitter Bottas into turn 1 at Shanghai, and was never really troubled throughout the race, finishing ahead of the Finn and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The Italian team were a source of controversy, as they again enforced team orders between Vettel and his teammate Charles Leclerc, a move which resulted in them losing any chance of victory.
There was action at the start of the race, as the Toro Rosso of Danii Kvyat collided with both of the McLarens, which resulted in Lando Norris being spectacularly launched onto 2 wheels. Him and Kvyat would later retire.
— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) April 14, 2019
Vettel spent a large portion of the race scrapping with the Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Verstappen would finish the race 4th, ahead of the faster Ferrari of Leclerc.
Daniel Ricciardo picked up his first points for Renault by finishing “best of the rest” in 7th place. The likeable Australian has endured a torrid start to life with his new team, but in China Renault appeared to take a marked step forward in their midfield battle with the likes of Haas and Alfa Romeo.
However the star performance of the day belonged Alexander Albon.
The British-Thai driver, after a challenging weekend which included crashing heavily in third practice, drove a measured and composed race to finish 10th after starting from the pit lane. Toro Rosso believe their car to have serious pace, and after Albon’s performance in Shanghai, who is anyone to disagree.
Hamilton fast when it matters
Despite appearances, Hamilton’s victory on Sunday was anything but assured. The Briton had been outpaced by teammate Bottas all weekend, including qualifying.
However, when the flag dropped, Hamilton surged past the Finn and that was that. Bottas did stick with Hamilton, but was soon brought into the pits early to protect Hamilton’s lead, and with that any chance Bottas had of victory disappeared.
Ferrari in disarray
Once again it’s been a disappointing weekend for Ferrari, despite all their promises of pace and competitiveness. And a large part of that is down to team orders.
In the early part of the race, Ferrari told Leclerc to let Vettel through, because they thought he had a better chance of catching the Mercedes’ than Leclerc. The Monegasque promptly complied and let Vettel through.
However, what followed was lap after lap of mistakes and poor lap times from the German which resulted in Mercedes pulling out an unassailable lead.
The Italian team have stated Vettel is still very much team leader, despite his poor form and Leclerc’s impressive showings so far this season. But is there any sense in harming your chances in a race, as well as stifling the ferocious talent of your young driver, just to protect your misfiring main driver?
Formula one hits 1000
China was the setting for Formula One’s 1000th race. With a number as momentous as that, you would hope the race in question would be a pulse pounding affair with action, emotion and drama from the moment the lights went out.
However, this is China. With very abrasive tarmac and low temperatures on race day, tyre management was the name of the game in F1’s 1000th race, which I think is a bit of a shame.
It would have been fantastic if the 1000th race was held somewhere more historic, such as Monza or Spa Francorchamps, but the calendar dictates all.
In its history, Formula One has delivered every kind of emotion imaginable. Heartbreaking sadness. Euphoric happiness. Since 1950, it’s been a globetrotting circus of the greatest drivers and cars in the world. But the sport possesses something more than that, something which other sports long to have but don’t. That “glamour factor”. The European chic of Monte Carlo. Champagne on the podium.
F1 has delivered some of the greatest sporting moments ever over its 1000 races. Hunt versus Lauda. Senna versus Prost. The dominance of Michael Schumacher. A Stevenage schoolboy becoming a 5 time world champion with McLaren and Mercedes.
Formula one has never stopped giving out memories over the past 1000 races.
Here’s to the next 1000.
By Jamie Downes (@JamieDownes11)
Featured image by Morio [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]