Mixed weather conditions always throw some surprises, while offering some drivers to shine in cars that would otherwise struggle for pace. The 2017 Chinese GP was no different.
Kevin Magnussen’s eighth place result was overlooked by many, despite the Danish driver outperforming his teammate Romain Grosjean and scoring Haas’ first points of the season.
Although it wasn’t a spectacular drive for Magnussen, he kept his nose clean throughout the race and capitalised on others’ troubles.
The 24-year-old also made a late pass over Force India’s Sergio Perez, who was on the same strategy as him.
Carlos Sainz Jr
Carlos Sainz Jr’s gamble to start the race on slick tyres appeared to backfire when he spun and hit the barriers at Turn 2, while the rest of the field surged ahead on intermediate tyres.
However, when the other drivers pitted for slick rubber, Sainz immediately found himself in the top 10.
From there on, the Spaniard showed strong pace, particularly after the safety car, having grown a better understanding of the conditions than his rivals.
He went on to finish as the top midfielder in seventh, promoting Toro Rosso above Force India in the constructors standings.
Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix was one of typical Lewis Hamilton races, where he held his calm in mixed conditions and led the field through its entirety.
He responded to Vettel’s pace in the second half of the race, trading fastest laps with the German to ensure the gap between the two remained stable.
The victory draws Hamilton level with Vettel in the standings.
Eager to replicate his Australian GP triumph, Sebastian Vettel pitted under the virtual safety car for a set of soft tyres.
However, the deployment of a full-fledged safety car only a few laps put his strategy on a disadvantage, dropping him to fifth place.
But Vettel was evidently quicker than the rest of the field, and after losing time behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen, he set about on a charge to pass the Red Bull drivers.
The German made a beautiful move over Daniel Ricciardo and was able to reel in Max Verstappen, forcing the Dutchman to lock up and run straight into the run-off area.
Thereafter, he piled pressure on race leader Hamilton, but the gap between the two ultimately proved too big for the day.
It was another wet weather masterclass by Verstappen, who had to make his way through the field after a technical problem meant that he could go no further than Q1 in qualifying.
On the first lap alone, he dispatched nearly half the field to put himself in a points scoring position. After the safety car period, he got past Raikkonen and a podium finish no longer seemed like a distant dream.
On lap 11, he found a way to move ahead of teammate Ricciardo, asserting his authority at Red Bull.
However, when conditions began to dry out, his RB13 started to show signs of weaknesses, preventing him from chasing runaway leader Hamilton.
In fact, he came under pressure from Vettel, who forced him to lock his brakes and make a quick visit to pits for a fresh set of tyres.
Towards the latter stages of the race, Verstappen was hunted down by Ricciardo but the Dutchman was able to keep his nose firmly ahead, securing the final spot on the podium.
Special mention goes to Fernando Alonso who’s charging drive ultimately counted for nothing as a driveshaft problem sent him to his straight retirement.
by Rachit Thukral