Triple-time world champion Lewis Hamilton took his first win the 2017 Formula 1 season in a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix to draw level with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the top of the drivers’ championship standings.
The German followed the Mercedes driver to the chequered flag in a reversal of their finishing positions at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
After climbing out of his Mercedes, a jubilant Hamilton stood on the pit wall and waved to his fans as he picked up his 54th career victory.
“Well managed, guys,” Hamilton told his team on the radio on the cool-down lap. “We really worked hard for this.”
Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth for Red Bull, crossing the line just 0.8sec behind Verstappen after hassling the Dutchman in the closing stages of the 56-lap race.
Williams F1 rookie Lance Stroll, spun off the track on the first lap after making contact with Force India’s Sergio Perez.
The Canadian parked his Williams in the gravel, bringing out the virtual safety car.
Vettel used the chance to dive into the pits to change to dry compound. The German’s gamble failed when Sauber provisional ace Antonio Giovinazzi – crashed, bringing out the actual safety car two laps later.
Giovinazzi’s crash give the opportunity Hamilton to switch to dry weather tyres without losing position, and also allowed both Red Bull drivers and Vettel’s Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to jump the German.
Verstappen, who overtook nine cars on the first lap, immediately dispatched team-mate Ricciardo to move up to second. Vettel, however, found himself stuck behind Ricciardo, and the slower Raikkonen, even as Hamilton increased the gap at the front.
Finally Vettel overtook his team-mate, but Hamilton was too far ahead. Raikkonen crossed the line a frustrated fifth, while Bottas finished sixth.
Fifteen cars finished Sunday’s 56-lap race, McLaren duo not completed the race. Fernando Alonso’s hopes of a points finish were dashed by a driveshaft failure, while team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was sidelined with fuel pressure problems.