April 17, 2011
Hamilton outruns Vettel for Chinese GP win
By Sports Network
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton overcame a pre- race fueling issue and then passed Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull with less than five laps remaining to win Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton experienced a fuel leak prior to the start of the race. His team corrected the fuel-line problem by changing the engine air filter in his car. Hamilton was then able to make his warm-up lap in time to line up third on the starting grid.
Vettel made just two pit stops compared to three for Hamilton in the 56-lap affair at Shanghai International Circuit. Hamilton, with fresher tires in the late-stages of the race, chased down Vettel and then overtook him on lap 52.
Hamilton crossed the finish line 5.2 seconds ahead of Vettel for his 15th career F1 win. His most recent grand prix victory came last August in Belgium.
"I think the strategy that we came up with today definitely helped," Hamilton said. "My new option tires seemed to last a little bit longer than the guys in front. There were quite a few other things that came together. The pit stops were fantastic, which was good for us. I think the [team] always push to improve. The car felt great, and I was trying to nurse the car to pick up pace. It was one of the best races I have experienced."
Vettel started on the pole for the third consecutive grand prix, but Hamilton's teammate, Jenson Button, the defending Chinese GP winner, overtook Vettel for the lead heading into the first corner of the opening lap. Hamilton then moved into second.
"The start was not the best we've had this year," Vettel said. "We had a couple of mistakes today, but we still finished second, so I am happy with that. We learned a lot from today."
Vettel won the first two grand prix of the season -- Australia and Malaysia. The young German was attempting to become the first driver to win the first three races in a season since Michael Schumacher claimed five in a row at the start of the 2004 campaign.
Mark Webber had a remarkable performance with his third-place run. Webber struggled in the three practice sessions and then qualified a disappointing 18th on Saturday.
"It was an interesting grand prix," Webber said. "To still see P17 on the board after 15 laps, you think, 'When is it going to come.' Then all of the sudden, I just felt comfortable with the car."
Button finished fourth, despite a pit road faux pas early in the race. When Button and Vettel made their first stops at the same time on lap 15, Button accidentally pitted in Vettel's stall.
"I was looking down, and when I looked back up, I could see I was in the wrong place," Button admitted.
Button's mistake allowed Vettel to exit the pits first and assume the lead shortly after.
"It was quite a surprise to see Jenson in front of me go into my garage [pit stall]," Vettel noted. "We had something similar happen two years ago with Toro Rosso. I don't know what attracts people to stop in our garage, but fortunately, it had no effect on us."
Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg took the fifth position, while Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso took the sixth and seventh spots, respectively.
Schumacher from Mercedes was eighth, followed by Renault's Vitaly Petrov and Kamui Kobayashi from Sauber.
Vettel has now accumulated 68 points for the season, compared to 47 for Hamilton. Button has acquired 38 points, which is one marker ahead of Webber.
The next F1 race is the May 8 Turkish Grand Prix.