F1: Lewis Hamilton wins third straight Grand Prix as Mercedes dominate in China

Mercedes showed again that it's in a different class from its rivals

Shanghai International

It has been a year of firsts thus far for Lewis Hamilton, with his first victories on the circuits in Malaysia and Bahrain. That trend continued here in China on Sunday, when for the first time in his Formula One career he scored a hat-trick and brought his tally of wins equal not just to the great Jim Clark’s at 25, but also to that of his Mercedes boss Niki Lauda.

Last time out Hamilton had demonstrated how to race and win cleanly yet decisively under the most intense pressure. This time he was totally untroubled throughout, and instead the lesson was all about tyre and fuel management judged to the nth degree.

His sole problem came as he went into his last lap – and was accidentally shown the chequered flag prematurely, on the 55th instead of the 56th lap. “That was very strange!” he said, the pleasure of his achievement writ in every line of his face. “I thought, ‘Am I seeing things?’ I looked up, saw the flag and lifted for just a moment, but I couldn’t see anybody on the pit wall so I just lost a second or so, but then I just kept going. It was good to do another lap!”

Ridiculously, because of that fundamental error the race had to be called after the 54th rather than the 56th lap, under FIA rules.

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit  

After the footling problem that caused Hamilton’s retirement from the opening race in Australia, this is turning into a golden year for the man who came into Formula One on a tsunami of competitiveness in 2007, and for whom multiple championships were predicted, only to be thwarted by the rise of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull. Now the boot is on the other foot and it is Mercedes who have the advantage. Even having to start the race with calculated settings on his car, which could not be tested when Saturday was wet, did not present the slightest problem, and he did not hesitate to outpsych his opposition further.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton pictured in action during the Chinese Grand Prix Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton pictured in action during the Chinese Grand Prix  

“Honestly, I can’t believe how amazing the car is and how hard everyone’s worked,” he smiled, relishing the fact that while everyone else had been complaining about front-tyre graining he had been able to run longer before making his first pit stop. That nearly backfired as he lost quite a lot of time when his tyres were changed, but the moment he resumed in the lead he quickly began to pull away again.

“The left front tyre is the one that grains and wears and I’d gone a lot longer than planned, so when I locked it up I ran wide briefly in one corner, but there’s a lot of run-off here so it was all OK,” he said. “After the second free practice session we had to make a lot of changes to the car to improve the balance, but we didn’t guess them; we made them in anticipation of what we would want on a dry track, and they worked perfectly so I was able to look after the tyres, and really I was just racing myself.

“It feels incredible. I’m so happy because I had such a great race and really enjoyed it, especially the last laps when I was pushing to keep the temperatures in the tyres. The car was really good; we are continuously pushing forward and I couldn’t really ask for more. This team is on a roll, that’s for sure. Let’s hope it continues.”

If it was an easy race for Hamilton, it was not for his team-mate, Nico Rosberg. The German scored his 13th consecutive finish in the points and maintained his World Championship lead over Hamilton after fighting back to second place, but the margin is down from 11 to four points. As Hamilton disappeared after the start, the German struggled away and then hit Valtteri Bottas’s Williams in the first corner. Thereafter it was a matter of playing catch-up in between pit stops, and the lack of telemetry on his Mercedes made it a tough afternoon for him. At one stage he snapped back at his race engineer when asked once too often to provide feedback on fuel consumption from his dashboard readout.

“It’s definitely a consolation to lead the World Championship,” Rosberg said, “but I’m not using the word ‘still’ because I plan to keep it that way. Second is good, considering that the whole weekend went completely wrong for me. As for that telemetry thing, it wasn’t a problem having to give a reading every now and then – the problem was that I didn’t like where they were asking me to do it, which was turn one!”

In the end, the Silver Arrows were separated by 18.062sec in another peerless demonstration, while third place was a major fillip for Ferrari as Fernando Alonso’s pre-race assertion that they were catching Red Bull was vindicated.

“It was a good weekend and we did improve the car a little bit,” the Spaniard said. “But being on the podium is some sort of surprise, a nice one.” His main problem was a collision at the start with Felipe Massa’s fast-starting Williams. “It was a big contact,” Alonso admitted.

It was a terrible day for Vettel, whose troubled season continues. Outqualified by team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, for the second race in a row he was told to let the Australian by, even though Ricciardo was on the same compound tyres and two-stop strategy. This time Vettel resisted the order initially, telling the team “tough luck”, but eventually he ceded fourth place on the 25th lap.

It was another horrible afternoon for Jenson Button, whose McLaren lacked downforce and could only finish 11th, 10sec from the final point. “It was a real struggle today,” he said glumly. “There wasn’t a lot we could do.”

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little