Mercedes finished 1-2 at the 2014 Formula One World Championship series in China on Sunday to remain unbeaten in the first four races of the season. Lewis Hamilton dominated, leading the race from pole to pole, to win his third in a row. Teammate Nico Rosberg took second. This was also the third race in a row that Rosberg has taken second to Hamilton.
The win gives Hamilton, the 2008 World Champion, 25 wins in his career, good for 8th all-time, and leaves him four points behind Rosberg in overall points on the season (79-75). Hamilton retired (did not finish) in the season’s first race in Australia. That race was won by Rosberg.
Hamilton credited his team for his success after the win.
“The team have done an amazing job and all the hard work both here and at the factory is really paying off at the moment. This car is just unbelievable; in the final laps, I was pushing a little bit more to keep up the tyre temperatures and it just felt great to drive. I’m so, so happy today.”
Two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) earned his first podium appearance of the year with a third place finish, almost 24 seconds behind Hamilton. Alonso stands at third in the season points race with 41.
While Hamilton easily bested the field, there was plenty of intrigue behind him. For the second race in a row, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo overtook teammate and the winner of the last four World Championships, Sebastian Vettel, as Vettel continues to struggle with his car.
Vettel was ordered to let Ricciardo, who was running on fresher tires and racing faster laps than Vettel, pass him. Vettel’s initial response after learning they were on the same tires, was “tough luck,” before finally giving way to his teammate. Ricciardo and Vettel finished in 4th and 5th place.
Said Vettel after the race,
“I moved over for Daniel once I knew that we were on different strategies. When I was first asked, I didn’t understand as we were on the same tyre, unlike in Bahrain, so I double checked. When the team said we were on a different strategy, I moved over and then, as the race went on, I saw more and more that I didn’t have the pace. There was no point in holding Dan back.”
Vettel remains frustrated with his lack of success on the year, particularly given his domination of the sport recently, saying, “I’m not yet where I want to be with the car, but it’s an on-going process; hopefully at the next few races we will make some more steps in the right direction. Our weakness isn’t in the corners, but on the straights.”
For the early season Mercedes is far and away the best team, and Hamilton says, “We are definitely on a roll right now; I’m working hard, the team is working hard and we just want to improve even further when we get back to Europe.”
Ferrari and Red Bull continue to make it interesting but if the dominance of Mercedes continues, and it shows no signs of letting up, the real drama in F1 this year will be which Mercedes takes home the Championship, Rosberg or Hamilton, and who will be fighting for third place scraps.
This was the third time in his career that Lewis has won China.
In the first race of the season, Ricciardo was disqualified from his second-place finish, due to exceeding fuel limits during the race. Had that second place finish stood, he would have 42 points, good for third place on the year.