The tyres of choice this weekend are medium and softs - the white sidewalls, medium, is the preferred tyre for the race, with plenty of concerns that the yellow, softs, will give up the moment they are bolted on.
Interview with Jenson Button: "We’re in that position, we’re not quite quick enough to fight it out at the front. You can make different calls and try different things. Our aim yesterday was to be the first on prime tyres for the race. We don’t know how the strategy will work, it depends what other people do and how quickly the tyres degrade, the tyres the guys in front have."
There was a moment of panic at the Force India garage earlier, with an apparent fuel leak on Paul di Resta's car, but he's off and out of the garage now, crisis averted.
Daniel Ricciardo had a great qualifying session, as both Toro Rosso drivers managed to escape Q1, and the Australian got all the way up into the top ten. He starts seventh.
It looks like a beautiful day in Shanghai, the sun is shining over the track.
Interview with Sebastian Vettel: "It’s a different approach, whether it works or not we’ll see. I’m confident, we had reason to believe in the strategy yesterday, I’m confident to start on the right tyre today. I don’t think the soft tyre makes it very far, everything else will be a surprise.
"It’s pretty hard on tyres, and unusual for tyre deg, mostly the front tyre starts to give up, hopefully we keep that under control."
|(data from Williams F1)|
|Fuel lap time penalty||0.4s/10kg|
|Pit lane loss||24s|
|Pit lane length||382m|
Force India make their final preparations on Sutil's car.
Tweet from @MyCaterhamF1: The helicopter shots of the Shanghai circuit show what an awesome venue this is. Happy 10th birthday to the Chinese Grand Prix!
The grid is now clearing, mechanics dashing off to the side, ready for the formation lap to begin.
And Lewis Hamilton leads them off the lengthy straight towards the first corner.
Hamilton slows to take the final hairpin, Räikkönen close behind him as they make their way back onto the grid.
Webber has left the garage, he crawls to the end of the pitlane to await his own personal start light.
Webber has the soft tyre on his car.
Hamilton has a good start, as Kimi drops back to fourth already.
A clean first corner for all.
Button is trying to make a move on Ricciardo already.
Maldonado and Pérez fan out wide, jostling for position, but no contact as yet.
The two Force India drivers have come together into the penultimate corner, Di Resta ran wide and lost places there.
Mark Webber has pitted after just one lap, the medium tyres going on the Red Bull, ditching the softs as soon as possible.
Felipe Massa is super close to teammate Fernando Alonso, he's looking like he might want to try a move for second place.
Alonso has closed up to Hamilton, as further back Rosberg loses his fifth place to Grosjean.
Alonso slips past Hamilton using DRS on the main straight, and Massa takes a cheeky move at the first corner to get past as well.
Hamilton lost two places in one straight there, and now Kimi Räikkönen is having a look as well.
Ricciardo lost a position or two there, and has dived into the pitlane for his first stop of the day. He's way down the order now, but may be able to make some of it back as the race unfolds.
Both Mercedes drivers come into the pitlane at the same time, but no delay as they service one car and then another.
Adrian Sutil has come into the pitlane with the rear wing collapsed. He's stopped in the box, and there's a fire now too!
Track is clear.
Fire extinguishers at the ready as they put out the flames on the Force India.
Replays show at the end of the big, long straight, Gutiérrez just didn't stop, ploughed into the back of Sutil. Esteban ran off track and stopped, suspension broken.
Alonso and Räikkönen both pit, with Massa leading the race. He's instructed to pit at the end of this lap.
Flames on the Force India.
And in comes Massa for his stop, which puts Nico Hülkenberg into the lead of the race. Massa comes back out in twelfth, behind Webber!
Track is clear.
Pit stops aplenty, so to recap, Hülkenberg leads Vettel and Button, but they have not yet stopped. For those who have stopped once, Alonso leads Hamilton and Räikkönen.
Incident involving Esteban Gutiérrez and Adrian Sutil will be investigated after the race.
Esteban causes carnage as he misses his braking zone.
Tweet from @OfficialSF1Team: raceleader is #Hulk as most of the top ten pitted already. we need a long stint on the medium compound for him. free track so he can push.
Massa has managed to overtake Webber for 11th place.
Massa is on a charge, he's off and past Valtteri Bottas now as well.
|N Hülkenberg||vs.||S Vettel|
Incident involving Valtteri Bottas and Jean-Éric Vergne under investigation - overtaking under yellow flags.
Pit lane camera shows Red Bull mechanics adjusting their pit lane traffic light, it looks like it might have been hit by something.
|5||6||P Di Resta||0|
Fernando Alonso has passed Paul di Resta and moved up to fifth place, Pérez is next in his sights.
More on Red Bull's traffic lights, it wasn't hit by anything, they were taking it apart and replacing it.
Making full use of the DRS on the home straight, Alonso gets past Pérez and he's up to fourth now.
Nico Hülkenberg and Sebastian Vettel have both pitted the same time, so it's a fight for position in the pit lane.
Supreme stop from Red Bull sees Vettel out in front of the Sauber driver.
Accident between Mark Webber and Jean-Éric Vergne.
Webber was coming up alongside Vergne in front, and the Toro Rosso turns in on him.
Webber's front wing endplate was broken, carbon fibre everywhere. He said the car was okay but pitted anyway. That'll delay him.
Accident between Kimi Räikkönen and Sergio Pérez.
In roughly the same position on track as the previous incident, Räikkönen hit the back of Pérez, and now he's damaged his front wing.
Webber is circling slowly, he's not going to get much further.
Räikkönen passes Pérez anyway, despite having a damaged front wing.
Replays show Räikkönen hit the kerbs, lost control and couldn't stop from bumping into the back of the McLaren.
Another replay shows that slow pit stop from Sauber that lost Hülkenberg's position to Vettel was delayed because of a slow change to the rear tyres.
Incident involving Pérez and Räikkönen under investigation - forcing another driver off the track.
Incident involving Mark Webber and Jean-Éric Vergne under investigation - causing a collision.
Yellow flags. Mark Webber's right rear tyre fell off and went bouncing off the track, he's now pulled off to the side of the track minus one wheel.
Webber's out of the car, and he raises his arms in a sort of "What else can I do?"
Webber's wheel rolled slowly across the track, so that following cars were very lucky not to crash into it.
With the wheel falling off so easily, it must have been something wrong in the pit stop rather than accident damage from the earlier collision.
Felipe Massa comes into the pits, he has a good stop and leaves just as Nico Rosberg arrives for his own stop.
Track is clear.
Vettel streaks past Sergio Pérez for fifth place. Meanwhile, Jenson Button is leading having not yet stopped for tyres.
Fernando Alonso makes a very late move on Jenson Button for the lead, ducks from behind the McLaren at the last minute and still manages to make the first corner.
Behind them, Kimi Räikkönen (still with a damaged front wing) is hassling Lewis Hamilton for the final podium position place.
Räikkönen follows Hamilton into the pitlane, but you'd expect a longer stop for the Lotus team with a nose change.
Scrap that, they didn't change his nose! The status quo remains though as Hamilton comes out in front.
No further action on the Bottas and Vergne incident (overtaking under yellows) and Pérez versus Räikkönen.
Nico Rosberg is back in the garage, he climbs out of the car.
Adrian Sutil on the hit with his teammate: "I felt a hit on my rear left tyre and then I was looking to my rear left mirror and saw Paul there. I don’t know what he was trying there, we were on different strategies, there was no reason to try any silly stuff."
Alonso and Button have both pitted, Alonso comes out in front of Pérez and Button behind his teammate.
Use of DRS in yellow flag zone for Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean will be investigated after the race.
Sergio Pérez is the only driver not to have stopped yet - light on his tyres as ever!
There he goes, Pérez pits after 25 laps on the medium tyre.
|7||4||P Di Resta||1|
Alonso has passed Nico Hülkenberg, the Sauber driver tries to make the move back, but the Ferrari driver streaks away.
A couple of laps ago, Pastor Maldonado pits for new tyres, via @WilliamsF1Team.
Button asks his team radio how many laps extra the Mercedes behind (Hamilton) has, and if they want to fight. The answer is two and YES!
Halfway through the race now. Don't know about anyone else, but I'm exhausted! Heaps of action.
Lewis Hamilton gets the benefit of DRS down the home straight and takes the position from Button, they are now fourth and fifth respectively.
Charles Pic is told over the radio he needs to work on his "KERS pattern" - presumably he's not using it in the best parts of the track.
Alonso takes the inside line from Vettel, sweeps through and moves into the lead. Vettel had previously been instructed not to "waste time" defending from the Ferrari driver.
Nico Hülkenberg comes in for his stop and he's put on the soft tyre - expect a short stint here.
Interview with Nico Rosberg: "I had a lot of understeer out there the whole time, it was feeling very strange. And then after the pit stop it got worse, and suddenly my front wheel started bouncing on the inside of the corners. I don’t know what the reason for that is, it can be something like a rear roll bar breaking or something, and then the front inside just comes up."
Sebastian Vettel comes in for his second stop of the day, medium compound bolted on, and he's off again with a 3.3 second stop. He rejoins behind Massa in eighth place.
Sergio Pérez pits again, as expected a short stint on those soft tyres. Just seven laps.
Sebastian Vettel takes the inside line on Felipe Massa and doesn't blink, holds station and takes the position.
Vettel is on the charge now, he's passed Paul di Resta - although the Force India driver dives into the pit lane immediately afterwards.
Hülkenberg is Vettel's next victim as he makes another move stick.
Kimi Räikkönen radio asks if he needs more front wing on this stop. He says yes. Technically, he also needs a new nose, but they don't seem to care about that.
The Finn comes in and takes the stop, and returns to the track in eighth place.
So, we have Fernando Alonso leading Lewis Hamilton, both of whom have stopped twice. Jenson Button is ahead, presumably on a two-stop strategy. Then Vettel, who is charging forward.
Team radio from Jenson Button: "We're going to have to get the traffic out the way, it's destroying my tyres."
It's easy for Vettel to make the pass on Button, the Red Bull driver is up to third now.
Nico Hülkenberg and Felipe Massa pit for their third stops.
Hülkenberg pulls out side by side with Massa down the pitlane, they crawl along to the end, but a small problem on the Sauber car allows Massa through and ahead.
Lewis Hamilton's stop sees him return to the track in sixth place, behind Daniel Ricciardo.
At the rear of the field, Jules Bianchi has managed to pass Charles Pic for 15th place, he's the lead driver of those backmarker teams.
It doesn't take long for Hamilton to get his DRS on and move past the Toro Rosso. He's chasing Kimi Räikkönen for fourth now.
Daniel Ricciardo pits, and he returns to the track tenth just ahead of Romain Grosjean.
The Lotus mechanics get to work on Grosjean's last pit stop, via @Lotus_F1Team.
|Sector 1||J Bianchi||278kph|
|Sector 2||J Button||271kph|
|Sector 3||L Hamilton||260kph|
|Speed trap||D Ricciardo||320kph|
Use of DRS in yellow flag zones for Vettel, Webber, Räikkönen, Bottas, Ricciardo and Chilton to be investigated after the race.
Fernando Alonso pits from the lead of the race.
Sebastian Vettel sweeps through to take the lead of the race, as Alonso slips into second. Vettel still has one stop to make though.
Tweet from @TheFifthDriver: Lap 40: Jenson the only runner to have stopped only once. He has the two-stopped VET 5s in front and the three-stopped RAI 6s behind...
Fernando Alonso takes back the lead of the race as he noses past Vettel at the start of lap 43.
|K Räikkönen||vs.||L Hamilton|
Räikkönen gives himself a bit of breathing space by passing Jenson Button for third place. Hamilton now has to do the same.
The Mercedes driver goes all the way round the outside of the first corner, until he was on the inside again and could make the position stick. Jenson Button didn't fight too hard, and he drops back to fifth.
Alonso's radio tells him not to push, he is adamant he's not pushing, but he does go and set the fastest lap of the race so far. A comfortable lead for the Ferrari driver at the moment.
Daniel Ricciardo is up to eighth place now, after overtaking Nico Hülkenberg. Felipe Massa is next in line, and the Ferrari driver is on the radio asking for more information about the Toro Rosso strategy.
Jenson Button heads into the pit lane for his second stop of the day. The McLaren mechanics perform a smooth stop and the Brit is on his way again.
Button returns to the track in 7th place.
|18||G Van der Garde||1|
Jenson Button makes the move on Felipe Massa to move up to sixth place. Massa can turn his attention back to Ricciardo again.
Sebastian Vettel comes in to the pitlane for his final stop. He's taking on the soft tyres with just five laps to go.
Vettel returned to the track in fourth place. Ahead of him, Alonso, Räikkönen and Hamilton. Can he catch any in the final laps?
He's eleven seconds down the road from third place, that's an impossible task!
Räikkönen told to use the "overtake button" to defend his position. Hamilton is hunting him down for second place.
Paul di Resta pits and returns to the track in eighth, just ahead of Romain Grosjean.
Räikkönen is coming upon some traffic now, as he continues to defend from Hamilton. Vettel has closed the gap to about four seconds now.
The final lap begins.
Hamilton looks like he's losing out on the gap to Kimi now, and Vettel may be closing on the Mercedes.
Hamilton gets on the radio complaining about the backmarker traffic, a Caterham is stubbornly in the way. He finally gets past but Vettel is right behind him.
Fernando Alonso wins the Chinese Grand Prix!!
Brilliant race to the flag for the final two podium positions, as Hamilton locks up massively around the final corner. He has just enough to stay ahead, finishing third with Vettel fourth.
|8||3||P Di Resta||3|
Fernando Alonso pulls into the number one spot, disassembles his steering wheel and climbs from the car. He's up onto the nose and cheering to the mechanics in the crowd.
|M Webber||Rogue wheel||18|
|A Sutil||Accident damage||6|
|E Gutiérrez||Accident damage||6|
Alonso, Hamilton and Räikkönen head to the green room. Hamilton and Alonso have a congratulatory handshake. Kimi quiet as usual.
Kimi perches on the table, looking nice and relaxed as he does indulge in conversation, describing the accident with Pérez.
I'd say this was a much happier podium than the last one we witnessed!
The national anthem plays out as the guys take to their respective steps.
Tweet from @clubforce: And Paul crosses the line in P8 to bring home some valuable points in a very strategic race! #FeelTheForce
The champagne sprays out as the three celebrate their success. Hamilton aims his bubbles directly at Alonso's ear. Lovely.
Podium quotes - Fernando Alonso: "Amazing fans all weekend, it's very nice to race here. The race, yes definitely, was a fantastic race for us from the start to the end. We've not big problems on the car, the tyre degradation was better than expected probably, so we manage more or less the pace. Feels great, after the retirement in Malaysia, we had some pressure to finish the race. The two races we finish this year, one second place, today the victory, so definitely the start of this 2013 campaign is looking good so we are very optimistic.
"You always push in a Formula One race, it's impossible not to push, it's true we maybe had some pace in the pocket. It's difficult to know when to use it, depending on the state of the tyres, so a little bit more potential which hopefully we can show in Bahrain next week."
Podium quotes - Kimi Räikkönen: "I think in the end it was a pretty okay result, obviously we want to win but after a bad start, the car was handling well but overtaking Pérez, I was next to him and he just pushed me on the kerb. I tried to avoid him but went on the grass and hit him on the rear, I think, and I damaged the front. That didn't help, but luckily it didn't affect so much the handling and it's just was a bit too much understeery, but we could still fight for second place. For sure, without the damage we could have been quite a bit faster, but good points and we try to do better next time."
Podium quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "I'm really happy with today's result, great result for the team, very happy with the points. The team did a fantastic job all weekend, unfortunately we didn't have quite the pace that these two had but still very fortunate to get on the podium."
Tweet from @OfficialSF1Team: 4 Championship titles and only #f1 World Champions on the podium. Competitive field, top level racing. #welike
Interview with Jenson Button: "For me, it's always quite strange because we led quite a bit of the race. When you're doing less stops, it does look more exciting and the end of the race is never quite as exciting but still, I think we did well today and we had to try something different.
"We're not quick enough to finish fifth on a three stop strategy or a four stop strategy so, we had to go long, which was very tricky with so many people jumping all over each other and it meant it was, in a way, it was a strange race for me because I couldn't block, there was no point fighting people, you just had to sit and wait for people to overtake you and not fight back because that was the quickest way to the end of the race.
"It's not the most exciting way to go racing but we got ten points because we did that and we should be very proud of what we achieved, we know there's a lot of work to do to improve the car, but while the car isn't good enough to come away with ten points is pretty good."
Interview with Mark Webber: "First of all, the start of the race was going okay, we obviously elected to get rid of the other tyre quite quickly, then regrouping from there, coming back through the field a bit. Then got to Jean-Éric, turn six, looked like he was... yea, I was coming from a reasonable distance behind, but he knew I was there, I think.
"He was really, really wide, it looked like he was opening the corner and giving me the line, but then when it became obvious we were coming close to the apex, he wanted to hit the apex, so... disappointing. He's entitled to, but even if he ran round the outside he would have got a good exit and we both would have survived, but in the end I couldn't do much once I was committed down the inside.
"Still wasn't the end of the world, actually, because it was not far off, a couple of laps short of our stop window. Come in, change the nose, as far as I know the guys thought the tyre was fixed when we left but the tyre, or the wheel's come off on the outlap."
Three races and three different winners, F1 in 2013 is off to a similar start as last season. Alonso was very happy with his victory, and it was a much friendlier podium than when Red Bull dominated the headlines three weeks ago.
Vettel just missed the podium, but a good race for both him and Jenson Button who ran different strategies to those around them.
Daniel Ricciardo did exceptionally well to retain his seventh place, despite faster cars around him. Di Resta also survived the inter-team contact early on and picked up some handy points.
The team standings show the fight is on at the top between the expected four, but McLaren still have so much work to do as they have just 14 points compared to the 50+ of those ahead.
It's back to back racing this week and next, so the Bahrain Grand Prix will be here before you know it.
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