F1: Mercedes Dominate as Ferrari Struggle in China

Lewis Hamilton took his second win of the season in F1's 1000th race. Source: Twitter (@PET_Motorsport)

Lewis Hamilton beats Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes dominate F1’s 1000th race in Shanghai.

Lewis Hamilton has taken the world championship lead after winning F1’s 1000th Grand Prix in Shanghai, with Mercedes dominating as Ferrari provided some controversy over their race strategy.

Lewis Hamilton takes the lead ahead of Valtteri Bottas, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel. Source: Sky Sports F1

Hamilton took the lead from his Mercedes’ team-mate Valtteri Bottas into Turn 1 and really relatively unchallenged from then on in a victory which never looked in doubt.

Sebastian Vettel came home third behind Bottas for Ferrari while the Scuderia angered their other driver, Charles Leclerc, after implementing team orders very early into the race.

Vettel: “We are happy we got the podium, but overall we can’t be satisfied because we were too slow today. We were hoping to be in a much better place and be a match for Mercedes, but we were not.”

“Also it was a shame we didn’t manage to finish third and fourth.” added the German.

“In terms of calls from our pit wall today, the priority always lies within the team and Charles and I are both aware we are driving for the team. We can do our own race but first of all we have to ensure Ferrari is in a position to fight with its rivals. I think we have a good car and we are still not able to unlock its potential completely.”

After passing Vettel at the start, a frustrated Leclerc was told to give way to Vettel on Lap 11 – but the German didn’t pull away and the move hampered the rest of Leclerc’s race.

Leclerc finished fifth after failing to chase down Max Verstappen, who impressed for Red Bull and was involved in a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle with Vettel following the first pit-stops.

Charles Leclerc climbs out of his Ferrari after a frustrating fifth-place finish. Source: Motorsport Week

Sixth was Pierre Gasly, who strapped a new set of soft tyres onto his Red Bull two laps from the end to take the fastest lap from Vettel and bag the extra point.

Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo secured his first finish of the year, the Australian finishing in seventh to lead the midfield, holding off the Racing Point of Sergio Perez, who used his Medium Tyres to great effect getting a lightning start from twelfth on the grid to take the flag in eighth place.

Behind was Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen with another strong performance which saw him finish ninth.

Kimi Raikkonen remains popular wherever he goes and it was no different in China. Source: Alfa Romeo Racing

After starting from the pitlane, an amazing recovery drive from Toro Rosso rookie Alexander Albon saw him make a one-stop strategy work to finish in tenth place just ahead of the Haas of Romain Grosjean.

The Thai driver’s efforts also saw him win the ‘Driver of The Day’ award.

Ferrari’s lack of pace in Shanghai allowed Mercedes to a take third successive 1-2 finish of 2019.

Here is what both Mercedes drivers had to say:

Bottas: “We did have a strong race pace here in Shanghai, much better than in Bahrain. I think that we’re in a good position, but we need to keep pushing.

Lewis added: “You can still see it’s very close between us all. I really have no idea how the next races will turn out but I’m super excited for them.”

Hamilton’s win means that Shanghai joins the Hungaroring and the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the list of tracks where Hamilton has secured six victories.

On Friday Ferrari showed good pace, but once we got to qualifying it wad downhill for the Maranello squad.

Mercedes will be sure to celebrate this result but they will know Ferrari aren’t done yet with still 18 races to go this season.

We’ll see you in just two weeks time for the European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan, which takes place on April 25-28.

Can Ferrari figure out their issues? Will team orders be used again? Is Gasly running out of time at Red Bull? Only time will tell.