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Hamilton cruises to victory in China

NEWS STORY
20/04/2014

Lewis Hamilton has bravely said that today's race is "mine to lose", a comment few others would be bold enough to make, not when the likes of Pastor Maldonado are sharing the same few miles of tarmac.

Having made history yesterday by becoming the most successful British driver in terms of pole positions, today the Mercedes driver would like to set his own personal record by winning three successive Grands Prix for the first time. However, there are a few others out there today with their own agendas and records to break, with little room for sentiment.

The Briton's pole lap was stunning, even if the TV director managed to miss most of it, and the 0.595 gap to second placed Daniel Ricciardo tells us pretty much all we need to know about the current form of Hamilton and his car.

His teammate, despite having a strong start to the weekend, had a nightmare session, his final lap suggesting that frustration is now creeping in.

Aided, just a little, by the conditions, and the fact that the Mercedes customer teams aren't quite as strong here, Red Bull did well to take second and third, and one can sense the obvious fear along the pitlane that the world champions, and partners Renault, are finally getting on top of their game.

Assuming Hamilton makes a strong start, and he usually does, the battle between the Red Bulls, Rosberg and Fernando Alonso, particularly during the opening laps, should be thrilling and could prove decisive.

One couldn't help note the despondency in Sebastian Vettel's voice yesterday, the German once again eclipsed by his new teammate and even admitting that Daniel is "doing a good job"

Although not best suited to the conditions yesterday, Williams was the best placed Mercedes customer team, and while Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas should be equally strong today, keep an eye on Nico Hulkenberg who is slowly, but surely, taking handfuls of points from each race.

Following yesterday's rain, conditions today are much improved, even slightly better than Friday afternoon. Though the Shanghai smog remains firmly in place it is warmer though this will raise the issues we witnessed on Friday, namely understeer and graining, particularly the front-left, while yesterday's rain has left the track 'green'.

Furthermore, with it's long, long straights - Valtteri Bottas hit 216 mph in the wet - brakes are very important here and we all know the problems some teams have been having with the new fly-by-wire systems.

Sadly, Bahrain has set the bar high and as a result the usual suspects insist that it was the first two races under the 2014 regulations which were the anomaly whereas we all know that in fact it was a set of unique circumstances in the desert that produced that particular thriller. Besides, we're not sure we could take that kind of pressure every couple of weeks.

Nonetheless, we can probably expect some similar type battles throughout the field today, especially with the likes of the McLarens, Sergio Perez and Kimi Raikkonen so out of position. And then there are the Toro Rossos, Romain Grosjean, giving Lotus its best qualifying result of the year, and that man Maldonado.

Whatever the outcome today, the teams will be keen to get the race out of the way for after this comes a useful three week break before the start of the European season, traditionally the time when the development race really gets going.

Theoretically the fastest way of tackling today's race - with the best compromise between performance and track position - is to start on softs, change to softs again on lap 14 and then to mediums on lap 28.

An alternative two-stop strategy is to start on softs, change to mediums on lap 12, then mediums again on lap 34.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by GoodPublicity, 21/04/2014 13:45

"Did I blink and miss Nicki Lauda say what a thrilling race it was?"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Vee Racer, 21/04/2014 12:08

""Dull"......a massive understatement! My heart was beating madly throughout the race, one beat above a coma.
"

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 21/04/2014 11:47

"Of course he's happy to win "easily", but this is after 4 races in the season, not after 4 years of technical & race dominance by one team\driver.

The writing is very much on the wall that RBR is catching up.
Their car's biggest problem appears to be a lack of straight line speed, it appears to be a bit faster than the Mercedes around the wiggly bits.
Vettel, after years of being cosseted in the best car, appears a bit slow in adapting to the new formula, but it's logical to assume that he'll catch up with Ricciardo soon.

If Mercedes maintains its domination for 2 or 3 years then Lewis's words will be ringing a bit hollow, but we've a long way to go before we get to that point!"

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4. Posted by Kkiirmki, 20/04/2014 20:25

"Back to the status quo then, dull and predictable. Seems like Hamilton doesn't mind winning as easily (after his comments from last season) as it was today unless he's the one doing the winning.

Glad to see Alonso dedicate third place to Domenicali, showing that in Formula 1 one man can't make a difference."

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