Hamilton did lead from start to finish, but, arguably for Vettel, an unfortunately timed pitstop and being stuck behind Kimi Raikkonen for 13 laps allowed Hamilton to stretch his advantage away from his Ferrari with undeniably strong and consistent race pace.
But, further down the field, how did all the other teams shape up? Who were the heroes and the zeroes in an incident filled Chinese Grand Prix with a total of five DNF’s? Find out below:
Lewis Hamilton – 10/10
Hamilton couldn’t have done much more than he did during the Chinese Grand Prix. He led from lights to flag and never made any major mistakes. Even when Vettel begun slowly closing the gap in the last stint, he never lost his composure, consistently lapping in the 1min 35s and 36s. He always looked comfortable in the changeable conditions and earned a respectable victory and a 10/10 rating!
Valtteri Bottas – 4/10
Bottas looked uncomfortable during the race. The spin under the safety car ultimately ruined his day, as he would spend 45 laps fighting back up to a meager P6. Because of results like this, Mercedes haven’t pulled a gap on Ferrari in the Constructors. In the closing stages of the race, he managed to catch back up to the struggling Raikkonen, but again, he never made an impression on him for P5. He has a lot of work to do come Bahrain later this week.
Sebastian Vettel – 10/10
Vettel drove superbly again in the Chinese Grand Prix. He wasn’t too annoyed at an eventual P2, especially considering the unlucky blunder Ferrari caused by pitting him under the VSC. From here, he was fighting from an effective P6. He managed to overtake both Raikkonen and Ricciardo with World Champion class and ease. It was too bad that Verstappen went deep and let Vettel through, as those two promised to create a sensational battle. Vettel is on fire in 2017 and I hope to see more of him in Bahrain.
Kimi Raikkonen – 7/10
Despite a P5 finish, Raikkonen doesn’t score lower because, in my eyes, it was Ferrari that botched his race. Raikkonen had made it well-known his tires were struggling, but Ferrari’s strategy department seemed indecisive in calling him to the box. By the time they made their mind up, both Red Bull’s had stormed through his pit window and Raikkonen couldn’t make an impression on the slower soft tires. Kimi likes the Bahrain circuit, so Ferrari promise to bring a strong two pronged attack to the Silver Arrows there.
Max Verstappen – 6.5/10
Don’t let the fact that Verstappen went from 16th to 3rd influence your view of his whole race too much. His first lap was exceptional, and a brilliantly timed switch to slicks ultimately gave him a convincing and effective P3. He then stamped his authority on Ricciardo, overtaking him on lap 10. But, Verstappen let a battle with Vettel simmer over, going deep at Turn 14 right when Vettel caught him. This, combined with his profuse believe that a backmarker three seconds up the road needed a blue flag, has led to a surprisingly low rating for the young gun.
Daniel Ricciardo – 8/10
Ricciardo was consistent during the Grand Prix, and that rewarded him with a well deserved P4. He continued to provide the fans with excitement in the closing stages by fighting hard to catch Verstappen. In the end, he really needed a couple more laps to make what he described post-race as a “convincing” move. Consistency, however, is what impresses me, and he should be happy with P4 considering Red Bull’s apparent lack of pace so far in 2017.
Sergio Perez – 8/10
Sergio’s race didn’t start they way he would’ve wanted. He lost several positions on the opening laps, topped off by a crash with Lance Stroll at Turn 10. From here, he did exceptional to fight back up to P9. It would’ve been nice for him to hold off Magnussen, but Haas have what looks to be an extremely strong car this year. Considering Force India seems to be struggling for pace, a double points finish led by Perez’s P9 is promising.
Esteban Ocon – 9/10
Ocon did especially well during this race considering his extremely low grid position of 17th. Although that wasn’t necessarily his fault, his confidence appeared unwavered during the race and he went onto finish just behind Perez for a P10. He scored another key point for Force India, something that’ll give him confidence for Bahrain.
Felipe Massa – 5/10
Williams and Massa had a poor weekend in the Chinese Grand Prix, eventually finishing in an undesirable P14, ahead of only Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber. Massa said “everything went wrong,” when the team switched back to slicks, as he just couldn’t generate the heat to stay competitive. They have a lot to work on as the mid-field battle this year looks to be extremely competitive.
Lance Stroll – 1/10
Lance Stroll undoubtedly proved his adolescence during the Chinese Grand Prix. Sergio Perez tried to go up the inside of him through Turn 10 on Lap 1. Stroll, however, failed to give the Mexican any room when he was just as entitled to the corner. He was deservedly spun and beached into the gravel, ending his race then and there. The incident, in my eyes, was 100% caused by Stroll, and so he has a lot to think about come Bahrain, especially considering the mounting pressure.
Carlos Sainz – 10/10
I thought Carlos Sainz actually deserved Driver of the Day. He was brave enough to start the race on slicks, a move that didn’t work well for him early on, dropping to last by Turn 1 and then spinning. But, when everyone else had to pit for the change to slicks, Sainz bolted up into the points and was an effective P7. Surprisingly, throughout the first stint he kept pace with Hamilton out in front, even setting the fastest lap at times. But those guys were, unsurprisingly, superior to the Toro Rosso, and thus Sainz locked down an impressive P7 and ‘best-of-the-rest’ award.
Daniil Kvyat – 7/10
A hydraulic failure on lap 19 saw Daniil Kvyat’s day end prematurely. He was running in 11th at the time, and would have likely had an exceptionally better day if he was able to continue. He, most likely, wants to forget this weekend and move onto Bahrain.
Stoffel Vandoorne – 6/10
Vandoorne’s day was also cut short as McLaren struggle to cover any ground in this new season. He suffered a fuel problem, and was running in a disappointing P17 at the time of his failure, two places below his original grid slot. Honda and McLaren both have work to do.
Fernando Alonso – 8/10
Even when Fernando Alonso has both a slow and unreliable car, he can still get some fireworks going. A brilliant start saw him gain a whopping five places on the opening lap, leaving him deep inside the points with P8. Nando then continued to keep the pace well; he even made life hard for the far quicker Valtteri Bottas later on in the race. From Lap 8 to 24, Alonso ran in an effective P7 – a result that might have been possible if driveshaft problems hadn’t forced his retirement on lap 33.
Nico Hulkenberg – 4/10
Nico Hulkenberg did the work on Saturday to secure Renault’s first Q3 appearance since returning to the sport in 2016. Unfortunately, he failed to do the work on Sunday as a total of 15 seconds in time penalties (due to overtaking under both the VSC and SC) ruined his potentially large points haul. He didn’t look part of a team that wants to be the fourth best constructor.
Jolyon Palmer – 6/10
Palmer didn’t do all that much wrong in the Chinese Grand Prix, his team instead, like Raikkonen, botched his strategy. He pitted on the formation lap for super-softs, which he was then forced to go 30 laps on. After he had destroyed those tires, he went a further 26 laps on the harder, soft tires. He would finish 13th in what was an understandably frustrating race for him.
Romain Grosjean – 5/10
Grosjean’s day was also somewhat unlucky, as his failure to capitalize off his low starting position saw him stuck behind slower cars for much of the Grand Prix. He said contact with Esteban Ocon on the opening laps lost him “half of the right-hand side of the car.” When the VSC was pulled out, he was 18th and last of the running drivers. From there, he would spend most of the day stuck behind Jolyon Palmer. Points never looked on for Grosjean, but he did get close, finishing in P11.
Kevin Magnussen – 8.5/10
After a disastrous Australian Grand Prix, Kevin Magnussen produced a brilliant drive to secure both his and Haas’ first points of the season. He drove beautifully and elegantly and thus managed to stretch two sets of super-softs to the end. His main rivals, Perez and Ocon had to use three super-softs, and a soft then super-soft stint respectively. This, in the end, allowed Magnussen to leapfrog both Force India drivers to his stunning P8 finish.
Marcus Ericsson – 6/10
At least Marcus kept it out of the barriers I guess. Sauber don’t really have anyone to fight this year, so Ericsson spent all of the day at the back-of-the-field. He finished in P15, last of the classified finishers. Nothing won, but nothing lost either. If he can keep stringing these finishes together, he’ll find himself near the points soon.
Antonio Giovanazzi – 3/10
After crashing out in qualifying, Antonio Giovanazzi would’ve probably been wanting to set the record straight for any haters on Sunday. Sadly, he didn’t do this, as a crash, similar in demeanor to Pascal Wehrlein’s crash at China in qualifying last year, would end his day. On the end of lap 4, Giovanzzi bolted out of the final corner and unluckily hit a wet patch that threw him into a spin; he hit the pit wall hard and was instantly eliminated from the race. If he races in Bahrain, he’ll be looking to make a better impression on Sauber before Wehrlein returns.
Be sure to tell us in the comments whether or not you agree with our ratings!
By – Steven Walton