Sunday, 12 April 2015

Mercedes secure another 1-2 finish as Hamilton claims victory in China

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Lewis Hamilton completed a clean sweep for the Silver Arrows at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday taking victory in a dramatic end to the Grand Prix which saw the race finish under the Safety Car.

Hamilton was fastest in Free Practice 1 and 2 on Friday, fastest in Free Practice 3 and qualifying yesterday and led home team mate Nico Rosberg to take his second race win of the 2015 season and in doing so ensured that he extends his lead in the championship over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to 13 points.

The race was not all plain sailing for the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team however as Nico Rosberg go on the radio early accusing Hamilton of deliberately backing him into Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The argument spilled into the post-race press conference where Rosberg stated that Hamilton had ruined his race.

Hamilton was unmoved by the accusation saying that over the course of the race he was faster than Rosberg. Speaking following the race the double world champion said:

I'm really happy. It was a great race and really positive to have a clean weekend throughout every session. The team did a great job. Going into today we expected it to be close with Ferrari as they had been good on the tyres on their long runs. The goal was to run my own race and manage the tyres as best I could; I was driving as hard as I could within the constraints of the tyres and just trying to stretch out the Option stints for as long as possible. I never really had a threat from Nico but I didn't do anything intentionally to slow him up. Before the second stops I was able to put in a few fast laps to build the gap which I really enjoyed. Then, it was a case of managing the life of the Prime tyre to the finish. Overall, I’ve just got to say thank you to the team for a smooth weekend. We dialled the car in where I wanted and that helped me deliver out there today. It’s a great feeling to win again in China in front of all these amazing fans. Their support has been incredible all weekend, so ‘xiexie’ to all of them! 

The first three Grand Prix have seen the same three driver’s finish on the podium but in different orders and of the three Nico Rosberg is yet to win a Grand Prix this season. The German will be hoping to change that next time out in Bahrain next weekend.

Although he was frustrated to have finished behind Hamilton he took comfort in the fact that Mercedes were able to beat Scuderia Ferrari. Speaking following the race he commented:

It was great to beat the Ferrari and the team has done a great job since Malaysia. But I’m also a bit frustrated today, as I saw how much of a difference four hundredths of a second to Lewis in Qualifying can make. Lewis managed his tyres a lot in the middle stint and that put me at risk with Vettel right behind. But the team adapted to box me earlier for the second stop and stay ahead of the Ferrari after he had pitted to try and jump ahead through the undercut on new tyres. So that worked out – but I then had a long final stint to do and the tyres were beginning to give up in the final laps. I’m sure we will sit down and discuss it all now. But in general it’s up to me to change the situation. I just need to make a better job on Saturday.

The Brackley based outfit head to Bahrain following the second 1-2 finish of the season and already have a forty point advantage over main rivals Ferrari who currently occupy second place. Speaking following the race, Mercedes Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff stated:

That was a great victory for the team but not an easy one; it was as challenging a race as we anticipated this morning. At the start of the race, we had the pace to pull a little gap to the Ferraris, but they were really strong today. We had to keep the Option tyres alive long enough and asked the guys to drive in an intelligent way. We chose to stick with the Option for the second stint and had to once again look after them to make them last far enough. We had some good communication during that part of the race, telling each driver what they needed to do to keep the one-two finish safe, and then we switched the pit-stop order for the final stops to protect Nico against Vettel by stopping him before Lewis. But it’s clear from today’s race what a big jump Ferrari has made over the winter. They were competitive in Malaysia, very strong here in the opening stint and they will be quick in Bahrain, too. Tonight, though, we can take a moment to appreciate a job well done – then get our heads down and start working for Bahrain next weekend.

Mercedes Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe concluded by saying:

A fantastic result for the team to get another one-two finish. Malaysia was not only a good reminder of how difficult it is to win a Grand Prix, but also how much we don’t like not winning! This weekend we went out there to improve on our performance and everybody did a great job to achieve that. Ferrari pushed us very hard indeed – especially in the first stint. We were pleasantly surprised to see that Sebastian (Vettel) was the first to fall away and pit on the first set of option tyres. We were then able to shadow his strategy and bring home the one-two. It certainly wasn’t comfortable and the pressure was very much on both the drivers and the crew to nail the necessary laps and pit stops respectively. It was a great group performance and a well-earned team result.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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