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Lewis Hamilton leads from start to finish in China

The double Formula One champion’s drive at the Shanghai International Circuit was befitting of his status to underline a thoroughly dominant weekend after topping every practice session ahead of claiming his 41st pole and 35th win.

At the conclusion to the race, which finished under the safety car after the Renault power unit in teenager Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso blew on lap 54 of the 56, Hamilton finished ahead of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.

By the time of Verstappen’s demise, though, the win was in the bag as Hamilton was 10 seconds clear of Rosberg, with Vettel and Raikkonen just over 20 seconds adrift

Williams duo Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were fourth and fifth, but they were never in the hunt for the podium places, not after Raikkonen had passed both on the opening lap from his sixth position on the grid.

From the start through to the first round of pit stops Hamilton held Rosberg at bay by a second as they traded fast laps, with Vettel and Raikkonen just managing to keep the duo in their sights.


Lewis Hamilton on pole ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg in Shanghai World champion takes the 41st pole of his career by nearly a second over Sebastian Vettel in third

It is not hard to imagine what Lewis Hamilton might have muttered from his helmet after dispatching the opposition to take pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix. ‘Ferrari? What about Ferrari?!’

After Sebastian Vettel’s victory in Malaysia two weeks ago, this was a reassertion of Hamilton and Mercedes’ authority at the front of Formula One. In the end it was the Briton’s team-mate, Nico Rosberg, who came the closest to spoiling his 100 per cent record in qualifying this year.

When the news was broken to Rosberg that he had fallen short by four hundredths of a second, he let out a frustrated groan. “Oh, come on guys,” the German said. He added afterwards: “Four hundredths – that makes it even more annoying and disappointing. It is the blink of an eye really.”



Valtteri Bottas: It was a normal Friday for us without any mistakes or unknowns. The updates we brought have worked, so we are a little quicker through the corners now, which is always positive. The temperature here suits us better than in Malaysia, so I think we can be strong in qualifying but we need to make sure we focus on the race and especially on the front left tyre graining.
Felipe Massa: The first session went to plan, but this afternoon we had a few issues with the rear wing. Under braking I lost all grip in the rear tyres and as a result the car spun which put me out for the rest of the session. We lost a lot of time, but the team made the changes to Valtteri’s rear wing so the same wouldn’t happen to him. We need to have a strong day tomorrow to set ourselves up well for the race.
Nico Hülkenberg: “It was a straightforward Friday in which we were able to get through our programme as planned. The majority of our work was on the tyres and on car balance, which should offer us a base to work from for the rest of the weekend. We were able to run with some test items in the morning and hopefully this will give the team plenty of data to process and analyse. I definitely think there is some interesting stuff going forward. We obviously have some work to do in order to extract some more performance from the car, especially as we switch between the different tyre compounds, but that should be the main focus for us tonight.”
Sergio Perez: “Today was not the easiest of days for me, especially the afternoon session, but at least the conditions out on track were quite consistent. We had to abort my first run on the option tyres and, when we went to resume it, there was a lot of traffic, which made it difficult to learn about our single-lap performance. It is something we will need to focus on tomorrow morning ahead of qualifying. On the other hand, we were able to fit in a longer run on the prime tyres, which gives us useful information for Sunday.”
Jolyon Palmer: “I’ve been waiting to get my hands on the E23 during a Grand Prix weekend and the experience didn’t disappoint. The track was quite green which provided its own set of slippery challenges and I had to learn the circuit quickly as I hadn’t driven in Shanghai before but overall I’m happy with P15. I was able to complete a decent tally of laps and test the limits of grip on a couple of occasions on the fresh track. It was great to be out on track and mixing it on a Grand Prix weekend.”
Romain Grosjean: “Obviously I’d have preferred to be in the car for both sessions but we had a good afternoon and we’re always happy to see a top ten lap time. We completed a good number of laps and the car feels basically pretty strong. As always, we’ve got some areas we can improve on but we’ve made a good start.”
“We had a good Friday, we got all the running we could from the sessions and our pace looks good. We had a few aero updates and drivability is always getting better, we definitely have had an improvement and that’s all we can ask for. We obviously have a few more steps to take but we’re making them in the right direction, so that’s positive.”
“We are investigating what happened with the brakes, it felt like I couldn’t stop the car, so we need to learn more about that. Everything had been fine up until the end of FP2. It’s a shame I couldn’t make a longer run but we still got many useful laps in. We brought some upgrades here and they look quite positive.”


Sahara Force India’s Chinese Grand Prix Preview

Vijay’s Vision
Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, reflects on the start of the season and looks ahead to the race in China.
Vijay: “The first two races of the season have seen varying fortunes for Sahara Force India. After scoring points in Australia, it was more of a challenge in Malaysia where Nico and Sergio showed their fighting spirit and enjoyed plenty of TV airtime as a result. Both weekends were valuable learning opportunities for us as we work hard to improve the VJM08.
“Everyone in the team deserves credit for the strong reliability of the VJM08, but there is a long way to go on the development path. We know the areas we need to improve and I’ve been impressed with the attitude of the team. The morale is strong and we will keep fighting hard to score as many points as we can in these early races.
“The upcoming weekend in China will be an interesting one. We will try and take some steps forward, based on what we have learned in Malaysia, and we will go to Shanghai targeting points. Formula One put on a very good show in Sepang so let’s hope for more close racing this weekend.”
Nico on China
Nico Hulkenberg gets ready for racing in Shanghai.
Nico: “Shanghai is a cool place. I always stay in the centre of the city and you can feel the buzz of the place. There is so much happening and everybody is very busy all the time.
“The track has a mix of everything – low, medium and high-speed corners, so it’s quite similar to Sepang with a big emphasis on aero performance. The quick corners are tough on the tyres and high degradation is a big factor in this race. The never-ending turn one also takes the life out of the tyres, especially the front left.
“It’s a fun track to drive and a challenge to get right. I’m not going there with any big expectations, but we’ve got to believe we can fight for some points. It wasn’t possible in Malaysia, but we certainly put up a good fight and will keep working hard. I think our performance level will be similar this weekend.”
Sergio on China
Sergio Perez gets ready for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Sergio: “I’m looking forward to this weekend and getting back in the car. The first two races have not been the easiest for me, but as a team we’ve been fighting hard and doing all that we can to find more performance. We have lots of areas to improve, but it’s a long season and it feels like we are moving in the right direction.
“Shanghai has never been the luckiest circuit for me. It was only last year that I scored my first points there. It’s a track that I enjoy because of the unusual characteristics. Turn one is a real challenge, especially in qualifying because you need to carry so much speed into the corner, but it’s easy to run wide and lose a lot of time.
“The long back straight is also interesting because you get a lot of drag races. It’s where horsepower and top speed are important. Sometimes you see three cars wide and lots over overtaking into the hairpin. It’s definitely the best passing opportunity of the lap.”


Charles Leclerc quickest in the official tests at Silverstone

Rookie Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:50.574 minutes) already was among the quickest in the first official FIA Formula 3 European Championship pre-season tests at Valencia. And in the final tests prior to the season kick-off, at Silverstone, the Monegasque secured the top position on the time sheets. At Silverstone’s 5.901 kilometre GP circuit, he was 0.467 seconds faster than the experienced Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:51,041 minutes) who finished second. George Russell (Carlin, 1:51.054 minutes) and Callum Ilott (Carlin, 1:51.439) – both like Leclerc about to contest their first FIA Formula 3 European Championship season – came third and fourth respectively.

“A good day,” Leclerc said in the evening. “We learned a lot, both about the qualifying set-up and the one for the race. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that I automatically also will be among the front runners this weekend – as testing and racing are two different things. But it goes without saying that it’s my goal to do so.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, however, is one of those who want to prevent this. “The rookies – Charles Leclerc and also George Russell in particular – are extremely quick. In the faster morning session I changed to my fresh set of tyres slightly too late, when the conditions weren’t optimal any more. But I can live with my second position.” In the season kick-off, held at the same venue, he hopes to be able to benefit from his experience. “I don’t feel more pressure than in the previous years, I rather feel more self-confidence. I’m going to enter my third FIA Formula 3 European Championship season and I want to make use of my experience.”

Behind George Russell und Callum Ilott, Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam, 1:51.634 minutes) finished fifth. “Assessing this test correctly is difficult as we won’t see the true balance of power before the qualifying sessions on Friday,” he said. “But I can say that I feel good in the car.” Rosenqvist was just 0,033 seconds faster than Raoul Hyman (Team West-Tec F3, 1:51.667 minutes). The South African was the last driver so far to have joined the FIA Formula 3 European Championship field. Only a few days ago, he signed a deal with Team West-Tec F3. “This was only my third Formula 3 test, he said. “Last week, I tested two days at Snetterton. I’m rather happy with my sixth position.” Marvin Kirchhöfer (Eurointernational, 1:51.893 minutes), eighth behind Markus Pommer (Motopark, 1:51.860 minutes), was also happy with his achievements. “We tried a lot of things, over the course of the day, covered a lot of kilometres and learned a lot. The fact that we were among the front runners right from the start was positive. But I still see more potential, both in the driver and the car.” Like Hyman, Kirchhöfer also didn’t contest the two days of pre-season testing at Valencia and so, he covered his first kilometres for his new team, Eurointernational, today at Silverstone.



Aerodynamic performance is tested at the Chinese Grand Prix thanks to the circuit’s 1km back straight and its combination of sweeping turns. The back straight is a great place for overtaking, but not the only opportunity on the track, the layout’s demanding corners test the Pirelli tyre whilst fans cheer on their heroes in the 24,000 capacity grandstand. An addition to the calendar in 2004, the first sequence of corners on the track have been described as one of the hardest in Formula One as fast entry speeds are quickly discarded under heavy breaking due to a tightening track for almost 270° before quickly changing direction. The Chinese Grand Prix is host to the continuing growing fan base in Asia amongst whom there are many Valtteri Bottas supporting Finns.
Rob Smedley
On the back of a very hot race in Malaysia, we head to China where we are expecting considerably different conditions. It is often a struggle to get the temperature in to the tyres for qualifying, and you then have to manage front left tyre degradation in the race. That struggle will be even tougher this year with the improved rear Pirelli construction. It’s a challenging circuit, with a tough left hander before one of the longest straights on the calendar. The turn 1, 2, 3 complex is also very interesting and offers a good technical challenge. There are two different techniques here for a quick qualifying lap and a quick race lap, so we will work through these early in the weekend to be prepared. We have a few upgrades coming to the FW37 that we are expecting to deliver an increase in performance. There is always a high probability of rain, so we will also need to be prepared for this possible curveball.
Felipe Massa
China is a similar track to Barcelona where we have conducted most of our pre-season testing, so we have a lot of data that can assist us in setting up the car. The track is harsh on the front tyres, often resulting in graining. It’s a good circuit, and you will always see overtaking there due to the long straight, which has the added DRS effect as well.
Valtteri Bottas
China is a good fun circuit to drive. The long and high speed corners give it a good character, plus it has a very long back straight which aids overtaking and makes the races more interesting. There is a lot of support for the Finns in China which is great to see and they are passionate about Formula One too.