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Race highlights - China 2017 - Damp conditions, safety car periods, and a fight to the line for the podium

Published by Christine

Crowds pack the grandstands in China
Credit: Dunbar/LAT

There was a little bit of everything in the Chinese Grand Prix, with the race getting started in damp conditions. It was tricky for the drivers to know what to do for the best, and once decided, keep their cars on the road. However, that made it very entertaining for us watching at home. A couple of crashes, some safety car periods, an incredible array of overtaking moves and a fight to the very finish between teammates.

It's all to play for after two rounds of the season, and China has proven that we have a good battle on our hands. If you missed any of the action, relive it now with lap by lap coverage of the Shanghai race.

As it happened: China 2017 - The race

Event Highlights

  • Lewis Hamilton wins the Chinese Grand Prix after leading from the start.
  • Vettel finishes second with Verstappen winning a Red Bull battle to the line for third.
  • Lance Stroll collides with Sergio Pérez and is knocked out of the race.
  • Antonio Giovinazzi causes safety car period after main straight crash.
  • Fernando Alonso retires making it a double DNF for McLaren.
  • 06:31

    Hello there F1 and fact-finding fans, you're just in time to build up to the Chinese Grand Prix!

  • 06:34

    It's been a chaotic weekend so far thanks to the intermittently poor weather conditions, and that looks set to continue today as the track is soaking wet.

  • 06:34
    Circuit Data
    Shanghai International Circuit
    Local timezone+08:00 GMT
    First race2004
    Number of laps56
    Circuit length5.451km
    Race distance305.066km
    Start offset0.190km
  • 06:35

    Friday saw drivers struggle to get any running with FP2 cancelled, but qualifying was completed unhindered.

  • 06:35

    Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole position but will line up on the grid with last time's race winner Sebastian Vettel beside him.

  • 06:36

    Antonio Giovinazzi suffered a spin and a crash that pushed him out of qualifying early, and has also necessitated a gearbox change - and thus a five place grid penalty.

  • 06:36

    He's joined at the back of the grid by Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer who were both penalised for failing to slow down under yellow flags, which were out because of Giovinazzi's stricken Sauber.

  • 06:39
    Grid positions
    1L HamiltonMercedes
    2S VettelFerrari
    3V BottasMercedes
    4K RäikkönenFerrari
    5D RicciardoRed Bull
    6F MassaWilliams
    7N HülkenbergRenault
    8S PérezForce India
    9D KvyatToro Rosso
    10L StrollWilliams
  • 06:40

    QuotePaul Hembery: "It's going to be tough in the cold weather, getting temperature into them. They're probably going to get 14-15 laps out of the intermediates... a lot of question marks though and that should lead to a good race."

  • 06:42

    The FIA have learned from their tricky start to the weekend and have organised a special neuro team to be available at a closer hospital than on Friday, so that even if the helicopter can't take off, the event can still go ahead.

  • 06:43
  • 06:43

    The other notable thing for the coming race is that Max Verstappen failed to get out of the first session of qualifying due to a power unit problem. That means he's going to have some work to do coming through the field today, and for us, that's a prospect to relish.

  • 06:46

    Weather icon

    Wind speed1.5mps

    Risk of rain for this session is 20%.

  • 06:49

    Ten minutes left on the clock, the drivers have been to the top of the grid for the national anthem, and now it's time to get settled in and start making those tricky tyre decisions.

  • 06:50

    TweetTweet from @andrewbensonf1: What animal are you today, @TomClarksonF1 asks @alo_oficial. "Today, a fish!" He expects a chaotic race

  • 06:51

    TweetTweet from @Jonny_Bowers: Our man @JolyonPalmer looking good on his practice start. The Ferrari's looked strongest. Watch Vettel into T1.

  • 06:54

    On the grid, Stoffel Vandoorne has said it might be looking towards slick tyres rather than intermediates.

  • 06:55

    Sainz's car has been started up and Ted News, there's the smell of oil wafting through the air now.

  • 06:55

    TweetTweet from @adamcooperf1: A real buzz just now, nobody quite sure on what. One tech director told me biggest problem re slicks is that grid is still wet

  • 07:00

    Information from the live timing app suggests that Carlos Sainz is the only driver on supersoft tyres, the rest of the field opting for the intermediates.

  • 07:01

    These are the tyres on offer in terms of dry compounds.

  • 07:03

    Team radioTeam radio from Sebastian Vettel: "It has dried up quite a bit."

  • 07:04

    As Hamilton leads the cars round the final corner for the formation lap, Jolyon Palmer heads into the pit lane - presumably to switch to dry tyres and get a head start on the rest, albeit from the back of the field.

  • 07:04

    Green flagRace started.

  • 07:04 Lap 1

    Vettel looked to be wide of his pit box, not forward but off to the left towards Hamilton.

  • 07:05 Lap 1

    The Ferrari got a bad start but pushed Bottas wide to retain his second place. Hamilton stayed ahead.

  • 07:05 Lap 1

    Race controlIncident involving Sebastian Vettel noted - out of position on the grid.

  • 07:06 Lap 1

    Lance Stroll runs wide and buries his Williams in the gravel.

  • 07:06 Lap 1

    Yellow flagYellow flags.

  • 07:06 Lap 2

    Race controlVirtual safety car deployed.

  • 07:07 Lap 2

    Nico Hülkenberg heads into the pit lane for slick tyres, he takes on the yellow softs, whilst Palmer took on the red supersofts.

  • 07:08 Lap 2

    Somehow in all the chaos, Max Verstappen managed to go from 16th to 7th on the first lap.

  • 07:08 Lap 3

    And given the opportunity behind the virtual safety car, pretty much everyone is coming in to get rid of the intermediates.

  • 07:09 Lap 3

    Replays show the Stroll incident. Force India were making a pass at the previous corner, he had the inside line and Stroll appeared to turn in on the car instead of giving room. His left rear tyre ran over Pérez's front.

  • 07:10 Lap 3

    Both the Renaults have apparently had a bit of a spin already.

  • 07:10 Lap 3

    Hamilton is leading the race still, having not come in for tyres. Behind him, Bottas, Ricciardo, Räikkönen and Verstappen have all chosen the same strategy.

  • 07:11 Lap 3

    Vettel, the first of the runners who did come in for the slick tyres, is in sixth place.

  • 07:11 Lap 3

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 07:12 Lap 4

    Yellow flagSafety car deployed.

  • 07:12 Lap 4

    AccidentAntonio Giovinazzi has had a huge crash on the main straight, hitting the pit wall. He's out of the car okay, but that is one damaged car.

  • 07:13 Lap 4

    Race controlAll cars through the pit lane.

  • 07:14 Lap 5

    Some of the drivers are taking the opportunity of being forced through the pit lane to change tyres again. Ricciardo has taken on the supersofts.

  • 07:15 Lap 5

    Marshals are hard at work clearing the Sauber as the safety car picks up race leader Hamilton.

  • 07:15 Lap 5

    Race controlIncident involving Sebastian Vettel - no action warranted.

  • 07:17 Lap 6
    Driver Positions
    10L Hamilton2
    23D Ricciardo2
    31K Räikkönen2
    412M Verstappen2
    5-2V Bottas2
  • 07:18 Lap 6

    Replays show Max Verstappen's start was basically as sublime as it gets - past cars as if they're standing still off the line, and then in exactly the right position to just go round each corner in free air and take all those positions. Incredible.

  • 07:19 Lap 7

    Race controlTurn 10 incident involving Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll - causing a collision.

  • 07:21 Lap 7

    In the trail behind the safety car, Valtteri Bottas had a spin from a straight line, he's down to 12th now.

  • 07:22 Lap 7

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 07:22 Lap 8

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Tyre temperature on restart crucial, especially on the soft compound.

  • 07:23 Lap 8

    Pérez dives to the inside of Massa in the Williams, it's a late move and he runs wide, but grabs the advantage into the next corner. The momentum keeps him going past Kvyat as well.

  • 07:23 Lap 8

    Race controlTurn 10 incident involving Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll - no investigation necessary.

  • 07:23 Lap 8

    Team radioTeam radio from Kimi Räikkönen: "I don't know what's happened with my engine, I have zero torque."

  • 07:24 Lap 9

    Carlos Sainz sets the fastest lap as he makes his way past Alonso in the McLaren. Times dropping quickly as you might imagine with the track drying.

  • 07:26 Lap 10

    It was anticipated this might be a one stop race, and with the early chaos, there's talk that some could get to the end on the rubber they're currently running.

  • 07:27 Lap 11

    Verstappen has closed up behind his teammate, with Ricciardo surely unable to keep his Red Bull teammate behind him for long.

  • 07:27 Lap 11

    Meanwhile, Räikkönen runs wide and that puts the two Ferrari drivers on track together as well.

  • 07:28 Lap 11

    There he goes, Verstappen moves to the inside and quickly dispatches his teammate to move in to second place.

  • 07:28 Lap 11

    TweetTweet from @mrjakehumphrey: If you're not watching the GP...66 pit stops in the first 7 laps tells a story...

  • 07:29 Lap 12

    Race controlIncident involving Nico Hülkenberg and Marcus Ericsson under investigation - overtaking under safety car.

  • 07:30 Lap 12
    One to Watch
    D Ricciardovs.K Räikkönen
  • 07:30 Lap 12

    Ricciardo is being hunted by not one, but two Ferraris.

  • 07:31 Lap 13

    Race controlIncident involving Nico Hülkenberg and Romain Grosjean under investigation - overtaking under virtual safety car.

  • 07:33 Lap 14

    The Red Bull of Ricciardo is holding up the two Ferrari drivers, which is allowing the front runners to get five seconds or so ahead.

  • 07:33 Lap 14
    Speed Trap
    DriverTeamSpeed (km/h)
    S VettelFerrari334.0
    E OconForce India332.7
    K RäikkönenFerrari330.8
    M VerstappenRed Bull328.6
    N HülkenbergRenault327.2
  • 07:34 Lap 15

    Team radioTeam radio from Daniel Ricciardo: "Struggling with understeer now."

  • 07:35 Lap 15

    Race control5 second time penalty for Nico Hülkenberg - overtaking under virtual safety car.

    10 second time penalty for Nico Hülkenberg - overtaking under safety car.

  • 07:37 Lap 16

    Räikkönen is ranting on the radio, "what the hell is happening?" as his engine isn't behaving as he expects it to.

  • 07:38 Lap 17

    Meanwhile, Sergio Pérez has closed to within a second of Fernando Alonso, looking to make a move on the McLaren for 7th place.

  • 07:39 Lap 17

    Race controlIncident involving K Magnussen under investigation - Driving unnecessary slowly behind the safety car.

  • 07:39 Lap 17

    Stoffel Vandoorne has dropped to the back and he gets the radio message to back off after picking up a fuel problem.

  • 07:40 Lap 18

    Vandoorne comes into the pit lane and retires from the race.

  • 07:43 Lap 20

    Daniil Kvyat is sitting off track, having parked his Toro Rosso up amongst the tyre barriers.

  • 07:43 Lap 20

    After losing patience sitting behind his teammate, Sebastian Vettel moves alongside Räikkönen and easily makes the pass. Up to 4th for Seb.

  • 07:44 Lap 21

    Race controlIncident involving K Magnussen - no further action warranted.

  • 07:44 Lap 21

    Team radioTeam radio from Lewis Hamilton: "I can go to the end of the race on this tyre, right?"

  • 07:44 Lap 21

    Let loose now, Sebastian Vettel has caught up quickly with Daniel Ricciardo and is looking feisty for a move.

  • 07:46 Lap 22

    A replay of Giovinazzi's scary-looking crash is available, glad he got out of that safe.

  • 07:47 Lap 23

    Vettel runs up alongside Ricciardo's Red Bull at the hairpin, some fair racing from both although a bit of wheel rubbing goes on. Vettel just won't give it up though, and he moves into third place.

  • 07:48 Lap 24

    TweetTweet from @badgergp: Cracking moves from Sebastian Vettel today. Verstappen may have made all the overtakes, but Vettel’s few moves have been superb.

  • 07:49 Lap 24

    Just to prove the point, Sebastian Vettel sets the fastest lap of the race so far, a 1:37.505.

  • 07:50 Lap 24

    Räikkönen is still trying to find a way past Ricciardo, he looks more into it now that his teammate has shown him how it's done.

  • 07:50 Lap 25

    Replays show two pink cars going at it, with Sergio Pérez moving swiftly past Esteban Ocon for tenth place.

  • 07:50 Lap 25
    Gap Analysis
  • 07:51 Lap 25

    Team radioTeam radio from Kimi Räikkönen: "Do we really think the tyres will last to the end of the race? Because it doesn't feel like it."

  • 07:52 Lap 26

    Felipe Massa has come into the pit lane for a quick stop, he's put the supersoft tyres on but is running down in 14th place now.

  • 07:52 Lap 26

    Valtteri Bottas shows just how bad that Honda engine is, driving past Alonso on the straight as though he wasn't there. Seventh for the second Mercedes now.

  • 07:53 Lap 26

    Team radioTeam radio from Fernando Alonso: "Does Bottas have some car damage?"

    He got a good look at the rear of the Mercedes as it swept past him.

  • 07:54 Lap 27

    TweetTweet from @McLarenF1: Fernando putting in another 'animal' of a drive today, currently sitting in P8. Disappointment across the garage as Stoff retires on lap 19.

  • 07:56 Lap 28

    Team radioTeam radio from Jolyon Palmer: "Surprised we're not boxing, I've really got a problem with the left front."

    And to prove his point, Romain Grosjean makes a superb late move to get past the Renault, locking up slightly at the apex but sweeping past to 13th place.

  • 07:57 Lap 29

    Sebastian Vettel caught up Max Verstappen so quickly, and the Red Bull driver locks up massively at the final corner to easily allow the Ferrari through.

  • 07:57 Lap 29

    Team radioTeam radio to Max Verstappen: "Max, do you need to box?"

    "No I can continue but the left front is not good."

  • 07:58 Lap 29

    Vettel is now set to chase after Hamilton, but there are a full ten seconds to make up now.

  • 07:59 Lap 30

    Verstappen's error has allowed Ricciardo to close up behind him again, but Verstappen does dive into the pit lane this time round. A fresh set of supersofts goes on the Red Bull in a super quick stop.

  • 08:02 Lap 32

    Hamilton is reporting his tyres are going off now, so may be unlikely to get to the end of the race as planned.

  • 08:03 Lap 32

    The fastest lap time is dropping quickly again. Sainz set it, then Vettel, then Hamilton. We're down to 1:36.711.

  • 08:03 Lap 33

    Meanwhile, Jolyon Palmer has come in for another pit stop, he's got the soft tyres on for the next stint.

  • 08:04 Lap 33

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Will @LewisHamilton have to stop again? He's on the soft; Vettel on supersoft tyres that are actually slightly older. But pace is still good

  • 08:05 Lap 33

    Verstappen makes a surprise attack on Bottas, just braking later than the Finn and taking the inside line to move into fourth.

  • 08:05 Lap 34

    TweetTweet from @MercedesAMGF1: #VB77 with his mirrors full of VER on fresh tyres... The Red Bull scythes past. Not much the Finn could do about that one

  • 08:06 Lap 34

    It's been a race long battle between fellow Spaniards Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz. This time it is the Toro Rosso that gets ahead. It's a scrappy move but that's seventh place for Sainz.

  • 08:07 Lap 35

    Alonso slows right down, something has broken on that car. Disappointment for McLaren as he was running in the points. That's a double DNF for the Woking team.

  • 08:08 Lap 36

    Alonso climbs from the car after reporting a drive shaft problem.

  • 08:09 Lap 36

    Lewis Hamilton has extended his lead enough to seriously consider pitting. "Might make it, maybe not," he says about getting to the end.

  • 08:09 Lap 37

    The race leader does come in, brand new soft tyres going on Hamilton's car, and he re-emerges in front with Kimi Räikkönen now just three seconds behind.

  • 08:13 Lap 38

    Amongst the fun and games, Vettel has also come in for another pit stop, he's back behind Räikkönen again.

  • 08:13 Lap 38
    Gap Analysis
  • 08:14 Lap 39

    Team radioTeam radio from Kimi Räikkönen: "So where are we going to finish? Because I have no front end and there are twenty laps to go."

    The frustrated Finn has been begging to pit for ages, and everyone around him is going in instead.

  • 08:15 Lap 40

    Finally they do let Räikkönen come into the pit lane, and he rejoins in sixth place behind Sainz.

  • 08:16 Lap 40

    Kevin Magnussen, running in tenth, heads off the racing line to make a pass on Esteban Ocon, and moves up to ninth.

  • 08:16 Lap 41

    StopwatchFastest lap from Sebastian Vettel - 1:35.423.

  • 08:18 Lap 42

    Kimi makes his first move, overtaking Carlos Sainz for fifth place.

  • 08:20 Lap 43
    Driver Positions
    10L Hamilton4
    20S Vettel5
    313M Verstappen4
    41D Ricciardo4
    5-1K Räikkönen4
    65C Sainz4
    7-4V Bottas4
    80S Pérez5
    93K Magnussen5
    10-4F Massa5
  • 08:20 Lap 43

    Esteban Ocon pits from tenth place, which promotes Felipe Massa up into the points positions.

  • 08:24 Lap 45

    Valtteri Bottas follows Sainz round a full lap to finally make the move in the DRS zone, up to sixth place for the Finn.

  • 08:24 Lap 45
    One to Watch
    M Verstappenvs.D Ricciardo
  • 08:26 Lap 46

    Esteban Ocon is hunting down Felipe Massa, hoping to move back into the points paying positions. Both are in Mercedes-powered cars but it looks like the Force India has the advantage.

  • 08:26 Lap 47

    Ocon gets ahead of Massa down the straight before they even got to the next corner. Tenth place for Esteban.

  • 08:31 Lap 49

    The lower half of the top ten is where the action is, Kevin Magnussen kicks up plenty of sparks as he passes Sergio Pérez for eighth place.

  • 08:31 Lap 50

    TweetTweet from @ForceIndiaF1: Didn't work. MAG and his smug fresh tyres go past Checo for P8.

  • 08:31 Lap 50

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Good to see drivers pushing all the way to the finish. Plenty still to be gained and lost

  • 08:32 Lap 50

    Sergio Pérez pits on those old tyres.

  • 08:32 Lap 51

    Meanwhile, replays show Romain Grosjean going all the way round the outside of Felipe Massa's Williams, snatching 11th place for Haas.

  • 08:34 Lap 52

    Daniel Ricciardo is looking for a potential podium, with just his teammate standing in the way. Verstappen gets on the radio complaining about lapped cars that are too far ahead to have even been blue flagged yet.

  • 08:38 Lap 54

    Verstappen may be moaning endlessly about the lapped car in front (Grosjean) but he hasn't managed to close the gap in the last few laps.

  • 08:38 Lap 54

    Blue flags ARE being waved for the Haas now though, as Ricciardo closes up to Verstappen down the main straight.

  • 08:38 Lap 54

    Verstappen can show off his defensive moves now. We know he can be aggressive, but can he hold his teammate off?

  • 08:39 Lap 55

    Team radioTeam radio from Max Verstappen: "Can you please keep telling Charlie? This is getting ridiculous."

    Is it though?

  • 08:40 Lap 55

    One lap to go. All eyes on the Red Bull fight.

  • 08:42 Lap 56

    Verstappen locks up and goes deep, which allows Ricciardo up alongside, but Max stays ahead.

  • 08:42

    Chequered flagLewis Hamilton wins the Chinese Grand Prix!

  • 08:43

    Vettel crosses the line for second place, with Max Verstappen holding Daniel Ricciardo off to claim that final podium position.

  • 08:44
    Driver Positions
    10L Hamilton4
    20S Vettel5
    313M Verstappen4
    41D Ricciardo4
    5-1K Räikkönen4
    6-3V Bottas4
    74C Sainz4
    84K Magnussen5
    9-1S Pérez6
    107E Ocon5
  • 08:44
    Race Winner
    DriverL Hamilton
    Race time1:37:36.160
    Race distance305.066km
    Average speed187.535km/h
  • 08:45

    Hamilton's race win puts him on equal points with Vettel at the top of the championship. Not only that, but even on countback they are equal on wins and positions. Couldn't be closer!

  • 08:45

    TweetTweet from @glenn_autosport: Great work from both Red Bull drivers, really enjoyed that fight. Both on the limit right to the end

  • 08:47

    Vettel and Hamilton congratulate each other, with both looking supremely happy. The boys love a good battle!

  • 08:47

    The grandstands erupt into cheers as race winner Hamilton gives them a wave.

  • 08:47
    Gap Analysis
  • 08:49
    L StrollAccident1
    A GiovinazziAccident4
    S VandoorneHonda17
    D KvyatUnknown20
    F AlonsoDrive shaft35
  • 08:49

    Vettel and Verstappen having a good discussion about strategy and how many pit stops they had to do during the race.

  • 08:49

    "This is a year where you have to be perfect," Hamilton says to Aldo Costa, head of engineering, in the podium green room.

  • 08:50

    Fernando Alonso has already taken to Instagram: "Disappointed because the DNF, but very proud to run in the top 6 with the slippery conditions at the start of the race. We must keep working to improve the performance. Bahrein next week."

  • 08:51

    Whoops and cheers as the top three take to the podium, and here come the national anthems.

  • 08:53

    TweetTweet from @F1: Started: P16. Finished: P3. You voted @Max33Verstappen as your #F1DriverOfTheDay at the #ChineseGP

  • 08:54


  • 08:59

    QuotePodium interviews - Lewis Hamilton: "Today was very tough for us all, it was difficult to know. I went out on inters initially, then I tried the slick which was impossible. We all started on inters, it was hard because there were dry patches. A great job done by Sebastian and this young dude here. Lastly, I just want to say a big thank you to this team. I’m so tremendously proud of everyone."

  • 09:01

    QuotePodium interviews - Max Verstappen: "My start was okay, and then I realised the intermediates had quite a lot of degradation. I was happy to take the risk, virtual safety car you save a bit of time taking the pit stop and then the safety car came. I couldn’t use the momentum and lost a lot of positions, but then I had a really exciting race. I really enjoyed it. Stuck in the train for a little while, but then I made a move. Tried to chase Lewis down but I had the feeling every time I put a lap in, he was able to respond. I touched wheels with Daniel as well, it was good fun at least."

  • 09:01

    QuotePodium interviews - Max Verstappen: "It was very challenging, I think my lap one I passed nine cars, so not too bad. I was very happy with that, afterwards a very good race. Was basically nursing the car to the finish, very happy to be on the podium, I didn’t expect that at all, especially starting 16th. I just wanted clear air because I was already struggling with the front and that doesn’t help, but in the end still finished on the podium."

  • 09:02

    QuotePodium interviews - Lewis Hamilton: "I think it’s going to be one of the closest ones, if not the closest, I’ve experienced. I’m really looking forward to this one. Ferrari have done a fantastic job. I think it’s great, we were just saying, we were both pushing those last few laps. He was closing the gap a little bit, but I managed to stay ahead. We’re enjoying it because it’s that close a battle. The cars look better and they’re nicer to drive. It’s not the easiest to get past, but Max seems to manage, so we’ll have to see the video and see how he does it."

  • 09:04
    Championship Standings
    1S Vettel43
    2L Hamilton43
    3M Verstappen25
    4V Bottas23
    5K Räikkönen22
  • 09:04
    Championship Standings
    3Red Bull37
    4Toro Rosso12
    5Force India10
  • 09:05

    So, we appear to have a battle on our hands. No one quite wanted to admit it after just one race in Australia, but add in today's action and it looks like we'll be watching the Mercedes/Ferrari show at least for the next few weeks!

  • 09:05

    What is best of all about that is all three drivers on the podium were happy and smiling - Hamilton and Vettel both know what it's like to dominate, but now they are relishing the fight.

  • 09:06

    And Max Verstappen was just happy to be up there, considering his qualifying performance yesterday. Daniel Ricciardo is probably going to be frustrated again.

  • 09:06

    McLaren's woes continue, it's getting ever more heartbreaking to watch Alonso trudge back to the pit lane in disappointment. And spare a thought for Antonio Giovinazzi who blotted his copybook with two crashes this weekend.

  • 09:07

    We've got just one week until the next race, moving on to Bahrain, so not long to wait to find out who can move into the lead of the championship. Place your bets now!

All content in the series China 2017