Hamilton storms to win the Chinese GP

08:58, April 18, 2011      

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McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain celebrates on the podium after winning the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at Shanghai International circuit April 17, 2011. Hamilton claimed the title with 1:36:58.226. (Xinhua/Fan Jun)

Lewis Hamilton claimed the first race title for McLaren this season as he overtook Sebatian Vettel with only four laps to go to win the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday.

Starting from the third grid, the Briton clocked one hour, 36 minutes, 58.226 seconds to hit the finishing line first, snapping Vettel's winning streak since the start of the season.

"It was one of the best races I have experienced where guys were out in front of me and I had to do quiet a lot of overtaking," said Hamilton. "It is really a true showing of the strength of our team."

Hamilton and his McLaren teammate Jenson Button enjoyed a very successful start as the third and second grid holders overtook Vettel before entering the first turn.

However, the McLaren team lost their lead in an embarrassing way. After jumping Hamilton in the 13th lap, Vettel followed the leader Button into the pit-lane for their first stop. To everyone's surprise, Button made a weird mistake by stopping into Red Bull's pit until being waved out to drive in his own pit next door. The Briton's mistake cost both drivers times. Vettel overtook Button to first drive out of the pit lane, but only to find the lead being snatched by Nico Rosburg of Mercedes GP.

"My start was not the best and for some reason it seems the left hand side of the grid is worse here than the right hand side. It wasn't brilliant and I lost positions to Jenson and Lewis," said Vettel.

"It was a surprise that Jenson came into my garage in front of me - I hoped he would carry on. We had something similar two years ago with a Toro Rosso - I don't know what attracts people to stop in our garage!"

After winning the opening two titles this season Vettel was eying for a third straight title in Shanghai. However, the German got his plan screwed due to the mechanical errors occurred to his radio as well as a gambling-like two-stop strategy.

Vetttel stopped for the second and last time in the 31st lap, then seized the lead in the 40th lap and seemed on his way to the third consecutive victory. However, the 23-year-old had to pay for the gambling in the 52nd lap after his tyres degraded.

"The middle stint should really have been a little longer, but at the end of the race I found myself out on the hard tyre and could see Lewis coming closer and closer. I tried to defend as best I could, without losing too much time to the guys behind, but he found his way past," added Vettel.

"It was a difficult race and we had a couple of mistakes, but we still finished second and third, which is a strong result."

The defending world champion finished second with 5.198 seconds behind the three-stop-strategy Hamilton, who became the first driver to win at least twice in the 5.451-kilometer Shanghai International Circuit.

Vettel's teammate Mark Webber did an excellent job as he shrugged off the disadvantage of starting from the 18th grid to cruise to the podium after beating Button of McLaren in the final laps.

The Australian also recorded a fastest lap time of one minute, 38.993 seconds on Sunday.

Nico Rosburg finished fifth, ahead of the Fararri duo Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, whose two-stop strategy also failed to work out.

Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher collected 4 points after finishing eighth.

"That was a lot of racing in one Grand Prix this afternoon and very exciting! I had a lot of fun this afternoon and I'm so pleased to see the hard work of our guys paid off this weekend. We have made a big step forward with our car and it worked very well," said the F1 legend. "We are heading towards the first race in Europe now and will bring some upgrades to Istanbul which should help us to improve even more. It is good to leave Asia with a positive feeling."

Vitaly Petrov of Renaults and Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber settled ninth and tenth respectively.

Although losing the title to Hamilton, Vettel is still leading the drivers' standings with 68 points, 21 clear of the Briton.

In the constructors' table, Red Bull is still enjoying a comfortable lead with 105 points. McLaren is 20 points behind.

Source: Xinhua

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