Chinese GP

Chinese GP Flashback – 2014: Hamilton wins for Mercedes

Having rained all day on Saturday, the race would take place under smoggy skies but with a dry, green track. That would prove a challenge for the drivers, with a track that has always been difficult to keep the front left tyre alive with the long right hand corners, especially the first corner and the turn leading onto the long straight.

With cars out of position, like the two McLarens, it was expected that with the high tyre wear at the start of the race would mean a mixture of tyre strategies, but that wasn’t the cast with only Kevin Magnussen down in 15th in the McLaren taking the harder medium.

With the cars getting under way on their formation lap, the Mercedes team came over the radio to tell Nico Rosberg that the telemetry wasn’t working, and the team would be asking him for feedback. Lewis Hamilton though at the front of the field really backed the field up coming out of the final corner, so much that he nearly stopped at the back of the grid.

With the lights going out, Massa got a great start in the Williams, getting alongside the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso who didn’t see him coming banging wheels and lifting the Williams off the ground, with him falling behind the Ferrari. Alonso got ahead of Ricciardo despite the incident with the Williams. It wasn’t a great start through from Nico Rosberg, without telemetry, and fell back at the start behind Massa and Hulkenberg. Into the first corner he hit Vatteri Bottas, forcing him wide and dropping him to the bottom end of the top ten. Fighting his way back on the first lap, Nico got back past Hulkenberg at the end of the first lap.

Having had a bad start, Jenson Button overtook Vergne up the inside of turn 1, while further up the road Grosjean in the Lotus attacked Bottas at the same place, with the Williams driver continuing after the incident at the start.

At the front Lewis Hamilton was 3 seconds in the lead by lap 3. His team mate was slowly making his way though the pack, overtaking Massa for 5th. While at the back of the field, Adrian Sutil retired yet again in the Sauber, another poor weekend again for the Hinwel team.

The order after 6 laps was Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, Ricciardo, Rosberg, Massa, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Grosjean and Raikkonen.

A lap later and Alonso was complaining of graining, with Massa dropping back into the grip of Hulkenberg and his team mate Bottas. The Williams looked like it was also starting to have a problem with it’s tyres. It was Jenson Button though that had the first stop on lap 8 putting on the mediums. Two laps later and the second driver to stop was Romain Grosjean, again taking the medium.

Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen pitted on lap 11, a very slow pitstop for Massa where the team did have a full set of tyres available for him. Once the right tyres appeared they were also extremely slow fitting them, with damage that was caused by the first lap accident with the Ferrari. Felipe would come out the pits at the back of the field.

Hulkenberg and Alosno came in the lap after, both again taking the medium tyres. Alonso came out in 7th, with Hulkenberg coming out 11th, just behind the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen who had yet to stop after starting on the mediums. Grosjean and Raikkonen were noth behind him.

At the front Lewis Hamilton was still heading the field, extending his lead by over a second a lap. Vettel pitted on lap 13, with Bottas also stopping behind him. Vettel got out behind Alonso. Rosberg pitted on the next lap, with him coming out behind Jean-Eric Vergne, who was yet to pit.

Hamilton and Ricciardo were the only leaders not to have made a pit stop. After his pit stop, Bottas got past Gutierrez, and Perez overtook Jenson Button. Vettel was stuck behind Alonso and quickly realised that he wouldn’t be able to overtake the Ferrari so dropped back. Pitting later than all of his closest rivals Ricciardo pitted on lap 16, but dropped behind the Mercedes of Rosberg.

Further back, on a charge Raikkonen overtook Magnussen, Grosjean then overtook Magnussen on the same lap, the McLaren had yet to stop, still on the old medium tyres. Despite running well at the front, Hamilton went wide and pitted at the end of the lap on lap 18.

Perez was the next driver to attack Magnessens McLaren, but he pitted for new tyres on the same lap as Hamilton. Magnussen having had the medium tyres at the start swapped to the soft.

After the pitstops the order was, Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Raikkonen, Grosjean and Perez.

Rosberg was catching Vettel, he was only a couple of seconds behind. Ricciardo was around three seconds further back and Ricciardo told that he was quicker than the cars in front of him. Just outside the top 10, Kvyat got ahead of Button, with his team mate the next to be behind the McLaren.

Closing in on lap 22, Rosberg was half a second behind Vettel. Rosberg locked up into the chicane, but overtook Vettel with the Red Bull driver trying to come back at him around the outside of turn 1. With the battle between the two of them, Ricciado in the other Red Bull came onto the back of them.

With Ricciardo looking like he was going to be on a different strategy, Vettel was told to let Ricciardo though on Lap 25. The reply from Vettel was it was ‘tough luck’ as they were on the same tyres at the same time. Ricciardo got very close behind though using the DRS on the long straight, got a good exit from the hairpin, and used the DRS again down the main straight going down the inside overtaking Vettel who jumped out the way on the outside of the first turn. It would be a double blow as it was announced over team radio that Ricciardo was 2 stopping and Vettel 3.

At the front, Hamilton was 11 seconds up the road at half distance from Alonso. Rosberg had got a six seconds gap on the Red Bulls.

Grosjean was told that there was a problem with 4th gear, although in discussion with the team they said it was either that he had to live with it or they would retire the car. In clear air Rosberg was catching Alonso by up to a second a lap, with a deficit of four seconds behind the Ferrari. A couple of laps later and Grosjean went off the road in a 4th gear corner, returning to the pits at the end of the lap to retire.

Lap 29, and the first of the three stoppers, Jenson Button pitted. The battle was brewing between Rosberg and Alonso with the gap down to 3 seconds, but Lewis Hamilton was still 13 seconds in the lead. He was complaining that the second set of tyres wasn’t as good as the first, although he started the race on the soft tyre.

At the back, Massa had made up time getting up behind Esteban Gutierrez. Perez stopped on lap 31 after going off the track at the hairpin and wore a hole to the canvas of the tyre. Hulkenberg and Bottas stopped a lap later, both for another stint on the mediums and came out in the same order. Kvyat and Magnussen stopped behind them.

Alonso pitted on lap 34, medium tyres again for the Ferrari like of a lot of the other drivers, coming out 5th. On older tyres, Vettel companied over the radio that he was overtaken by a Caterham on new tyres. Kobayashi was told by his team to pull away from Vettel so he wouldnt be shown the blue flags which would give Vettel the opportunity of overtake again. Vettel stopped a lap later, coming out behind the other Caterham of Marcus Ericsson, overtaking him on his outlap. Hulkenberg in 6th also past the Caterham, with Bottas just behind.

Flat spotting his tyres, Rosberg pitted on lap 38 with Ricciardo following him in. Lewis Hamilton stopped a lap later. With Rosberg behind Alonso, he started catching the Ferrari by over two seconds per lap. The order behind being Hamilton, Alonso, Rosberg, Ricciardo and Vettel.

Bottas was closing in on Hulkenberg, closing the gap to three seconds. It was down to a second by lap 41, although they were both lapping Felipe Massa. A lap later and Rosberg was right behind the Ferrari, easily overtaking down the long straight, even past before the hairpin. Trying to get back on terms with the Mercedes, Alonso tried to get past with DRS, the Ferrari wasnt able to challenge. Ricciardo behind the Ferrari was lapping quicker also than Alonso and was just 6 seconds behind.

Lewis Hamilton at the front told to manage the tyres with 12 laps to go, while Rosberg was told that fuel would be fine to the end after relaying the information to the team with the lack of telemetry.

The margin stabilised with Ricciardo only closing on Alonso by a tenths on lap 45, the gap still around 5.5 seconds. Even by lap 51, the gap had only reduced to 4.5 seconds with Ricciardo’s tyres being three laps younger. Alonso started struggling with three laps to go and the gap down to 3.6 seconds, but lost four tenths lapping the slow Lotus of Pastor Maldonado. Futher down the order, the Williams of Valtteri Bottas was gaining time on Hulkenberg for 6th.

Neither would be able to overtake though before the end of the race, with Lewis Hamilton winning by a huge margin from his team mate and Alonso 3rd. Ricciardo got to a second behind the Ferrari in 4th, with Vettel 5th, Hulkenberg hanging onto 6th by half a second from Bottas, Raikkonen 8th, Perez 9th and Kvyat 10th.

Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1h33m28.338s
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +18.062s
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +23.604s
4. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault +27.136s
5. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault +47.778s
6. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +54.295s
7. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +55.697s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1m16.335s
9. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes +1m22.647s
10. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault +1 lap
11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault +1 lap
13. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
14. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault +1 lap
15. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes +1 lap
16. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
17. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari +1 lap
18. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault +1 lap
19. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari +2 laps
20. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault +2 laps

About the author

Ashley Quint

Ashley founded the Purple Sector website back in 2012, later renamed to SpeedMajor which now covers both Formula 1 and Formula E. As well as writing on Formula 1, Ashley also works within the world of luxury travel and was a finalist in the Aspire Travel Trade Writer of the Year competition in 2013.

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