Hamilton wins thrilling Chinese Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton ended Sebastian Vettel's winning streak in Formula One with a superb battling victory in today's breathless Chinese Grand Prix.
The McLaren driver started third on the grid in Shanghai and had to battle past team-mate Jenson Button before finally overhauling Vettel for the lead with just four laps remaining.
In the end it proved as much a tactical victory for Hamilton as it was one of power and nerve, his three stops to Vettel's two proving the way to go on the notoriously low-wearing Pirelli tyres.
Vettel held on to take second place while his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber compiled a stunning drive from 18th to snatch the final place on the podium from the second McLaren of Jenson Button.
The result saw Vettel denied a third win in a row at the start of the new season, and a fifth dating back to last year.
For a delighted and emotional Hamilton, it was a first victory since last August's Belgian Grand Prix and a result which moved him into second place in the drivers' standings.
"That was amazing, thanks so much," Hamilton told his McLaren colleagues over the team radio.
The 15th victory of his F1 career takes Hamilton onto 47 points, 21 behind Vettel, while Button (38) is down to third place and Webber (37) fourth.
Hamilton becomes the first ever two-time winner in Shanghai since the inception of the race in 2004, and he said: "I think today the strategy that we came up with definitely helped.
"The pit stops were fantastic. The car felt great and I was trying to nurse my tyres while picking up pace.
"It was one of the best races I've experienced. It feels amazing to be able to bring home a victory for the guys in the factory."
Hamilton also had a small drama before the start when his car would not start in the garage, making him the last driver to join the grid.
"I was in the car nice and early but then we had a problem," he said.
"I'm not sure what went on but fortunately everything came together very quickly."
Vettel admitted that he had perhaps gone the wrong way on strategy, and revealed that Red Bull's KERS trouble, so much a feature of this season, again reared its head.
"We can learn a lot today," he said. "I'm the only one with two stops [on the podium] so that's something to look into tonight.
"We had a problem with KERS so it wasn't a trouble-free race. Once we decided to go two-stop we had to be patient."
Pole man Vettel fluffed his lines at the start to allow Button, who made a perfect get-away from second place, to move comfortably ahead of the Red Bull going into the first corner.
But the trouble was not over for Vettel, and going into the braking zone the German diced dangerously with Hamilton who forced his way into second.
The trio held station until just before the first round of pit stops, when things quickly unravelled for Button.
Moments after Vettel had used his car's DRS system to pass Hamilton for second, both he and Button pitted together.
But Button committed the baffling error of pulling up alongside the Red Bull mechanics. Although he was quickly waved on to his own berth, the incident cost him time and Vettel duly moved ahead.
But the surprise package of the opening stops was the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, who had been running fourth but stopped on lap 13, earlier than the top three, and got the jump on the Red Bull and both McLarens to lead by lap 20.
At this stage, with strategies unclear, the battle for the lead involved six cars, with the top four joined by the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso in a heated battle.
Button stopped for the second time at the end of lap 24 to drop to eighth but was soon powering back up the order with a pass on Force India's Paul Di Resta, who had started in eighth.
Vettel pitted from the lead at the end of lap 31 - his final stop - and rejoined on hard tyres in sixth place, behind both McLarens and Rosberg.
Hamilton put a brave move on Button a lap later to move into second. Hamilton picked up a good tow down the start-finish straight and although Button jinked aggressively to close the door, he thought better of it and Hamilton was through.
Button made his third and final stop from third place on lap 38 while Rosberg pitted from the lead on lap 40, emerging right in front of the charging Hamilton.
That left Vettel out in front and seemingly well on course for his third win of the year, but Hamilton was setting an ominous pace behind.
The Briton made it past Rosberg on lap 42 and three laps later was up to second as he passed Massa across the start-finish line.
Button passed the fading Rosberg on lap 45 while Webber's stunning recovery drive was really gaining impetus as he took Alonso for sixth on lap 46.
But the real interest was at the head of the field with Hamilton now taking chunks of time out Vettel.
The gap was down to less than a second with six laps remaining as the three-stop strategy suddenly looked the smart move.
At the end of lap 50 Vettel repelled an attempted overtake at the end of the back straight, but two laps later the deed was done, Hamilton pulling a brave move into turn seven before pulling clear.
Webber's sterling drive saw him climb to fourth on lap 54 as Rosberg's slide continued, but the fired-up Australian was not done yet and he completed the drive of the day by snatching third from Button on the penultimate lap.
Elsewhere, Rosberg had to be content with fifth, Massa took sixth ahead of Alonso, while Mercedes' Michael Schumacher, Vitaly Petrov of Renault and the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi completed the top 10.
Di Resta's afternoon ended in frustration, the Scot coming home in 11th place and the subject of a post-race investigation by the stewards after a clash with Nick Heidfeld's Renault.
Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari was the race's sole retirement, the Spaniard's right-rear tyre working loose after a pit stop on lap 10 and forcing him to pull off.
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