The story of the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix started in qualifying, thanks to Mercedes one again although from different reasons to usual. Lewis Hamilton having a problem with his power unit would be relegated to the back of the grid, forced to work himself through the field, with Nico Rosberg taking a commanding pole position from Daniel Ricciardo.
With a clear advantage at the front of the field, Rosberg took the soft tyre in Q2, the tyre in which he would forced to start the race on, with others in the top ten forced to start on the super soft tyres. The softest of the range brought to Shanghai only expected to last a few laps, while the soft is expected to be the better race tyre, again with high tyre wear three stops the name of the game.
Along with Rosberg, Massa, Alonso, Grosjean, Ericsson, Nasr, Gutierrez, Palmer, Haryanto, Wehrlein and Hamilton would all start on the soft tyre, with a large amount of the field taking the slightly harder tyre which will last a lot longer than the super softs.
With the lights out it was a good start from Ricciardo to lead into the first corner. The Ferrari drivers crashed in the first corner, along with the Williams drivers. Hamilton picked up front wing damage, the wing trapped under the car. With the Ferrari drivers out of position, it meant that Kvyat made his way up to third. Vettel also had front wing damage in eighth.
At the back of the field was Hamilton at Raikkonen, both with damage. Grosjean also pitted with damage in the Haas. Raikkonen took the medium tyre, while Hamilton took the soft tyre. Vettel overtook Maasa with Jenson Button also taking the opportunity to overtake the McLaren, only to get battle into the hairpin. Bottas was only just behind his team mate in 10th. Rosberg set the fastest lap of the race, while they cruised onto the back of a Sauber at the back of the field.
Lap 3 and Rosberg overtook Ricciardo on the back straight with a large tyre failure for Ricciardo. Large pieces of the tyre on the back straight, although no safety car. He came in for a set of the soft tyres. Force India elevated to third and fourth, with Verstappen closing on the pair. Hamilton was the fastest driver on track at the back of the field.
Although a delayed decision, the safety car was thrown on lap 4. Rosberg didn’t pit from the lead, but Force India, Kvyat with a large traffic jam in the pit lane. Toro Rosso stacked their car, with Vettel changing his front wing. Ricciardo got ahead of Max Verstappen. Replays showed that Lewis Hamilton was driven into by Felipe Nasr at the start of the race, which gave him the wing damage. Romain Grosjean was also chopped by Ericsson. Another replay showed that Vettel would overtake in the pitlane entry.
Lewis Hamilton would also pit from the back of the field, taking a set of the super soft tyres under the safety car. The order: Rosberg, Massa, Alonso, Wherlein, Gutierrez who have yet to stop. Lewis Hamilton pitted for the soft tyre a lap later.
Vettel was clearly still not happy with Kvyat’s first corner, complaining over the radio to the team that he was ‘suicidal’.
The safety car came in at the end of lap 8. Kvyat overtook Gutierrez in the first corner, the first of the stoppers, and then quickly overtook Wehrlein. Vettel in 13th, behind the two Force India’s. He overtook Hulkenberg ont he same lap. Perez overtook Palmer for eighth. At the front and Kvyat overtook Alonso for third, the third car on the same lap. Button overtook Palmer in the first corner for 9th, Vettel overtaking in that group as well. Button on the medium tyre.
Hamilton only got up to 19th at the restart, but made the pass on Magnussen in 19th. His team mate had made a claim on the restart . Hamilton overtook Raikkonen as they made their way through the field. Ricciardo overtook both Palmer and Hullkenberg. Bottas also kept 8th from Vettel in a close battle.
Perez overtook Gutierrez into the hair pin on lap 12. Perez overtook Wehrlein, down to sixth place now for the Manor. Vettel also lost out in the battle with Bottas, although later got ahead of both Bottas and Wehrlein. The first of the stoppers, Kvyat overtook Massa for second. Gutierrez was still falling down the field, with Lewis Hamilton just behind him battling with Ricciardo.
Perez was taken by Vettel for 5th on lap 14, the Ferrari closing in on Alonso. Button also overtook Wehrlein, with Sainz following through. Vettel was told over the radio behind Alonso that he should push hard, it was an easy pass for the Ferrari into the hairpin, although the McLaren driver didn’t give up easily. Vettel lost his endplate to the front wing shortly after.
Raikkonen pitted on lap 15 to go onto the medium tyres. Perez overtook Alonso, while Wehrlein pitted. Alonso pitted a couple of laps later having not stopped so far, taking a set of the medium tyres. He came out ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, also on the medium tyres.
Vettel pitted from fourth on lap 18. The took the soft tyre, but decided not to change the front wing. He came out just ahead of Kevin Magnussen, 13th place for the Ferrari. Exiting the pit, he quickly made a move on Ericsson. Hulkenberg was under pressure from Verstappen with the Toro Rosso driver overtaking into the hairpin. Perez pitted from 5th, while Rosberg had increased his lead to 12 seconds. At this time, Hamilton was up to 7th place, and just behind Daniel Ricciardo.
Kvyat pitted from second on lap 20, another set of the soft tyres, with Massa also stopping in the Williams. Kvyat came out just with Vettel and Verstappen. Kvyat overtook Verstappen, while Vettel was not able to overtake the Toro Rosso, the Dutch driver on old tyres. Button was just up the road in 4th on medium tyres.
Rosberg pitted from the lead on lap 21, while Kvyat overtook Button. The Mercedes driver took another set of the soft tyres. Verstappen, Magnussen and Grosjean also pitted on the same lap. Hamilton was now in the top three, with Hulkenberg under investigation for driving too slowly in the pitlane, and an unsafe release for his team mate was also under investigation.
Hamilton pitted on lap 22, another set of the soft tyres, with Hulkenberg given a five second penalty for driving too slowly. Ricciardo in 10th, overtook Sainz into the first corner, Ericsson just up the road in the Sauber. Vettel had made his way up to third, although 15 seconds from the lead and just behind Kvyat. Teammate Ricciardo overtook Ericsson into the hairpin the same lap, with Sainz going through as well.
Kimi Raikkonen in the same battle had made his way back to 10th, while Rosberg had a 14 second lead at the front. Button was overtaken by Massa for 5th, with Lewis Hamilton cruising up on the back of Raikkonen, outside the top ten. Button, Perez and Bottas were locked in a close fight on lap 26. Perez went round the outside at the fast corners in turn 6, with Bottas also right on the back of the McLaren. Ricciardo was also closing on that group, with the Australian also overtaking the McLaren. Button was fading on the medium tyres.
Bottas overtook Perez, with Button pitting on lap 28 in the McLaren. Hamilton and Raikkonen still battling at the lower end of the top ten. Button took another set of the medium tyres in his pitstop. Verstappen overtook Alonso for 11th. Perez pitted on lap 29, a set of the medium tyres for Force India.
The fight by Hamilton was blocked by Sainz, who would keeping Raikkonen at bay for 7th, 8th and 9th. Hamilton was told to push by the team, but he fell back slightly on the Ferrari.
At the front and Rosberg had increased his lead to 23 seconds from Kvyat, a whole pit stop in hand. Bottas pitted on lap 31, with Hamilton also taking a set of the medium tyres. Vettel was still behind Kvyat in third, while Massa pitted a lap later than his team mate from fourth.
Alonso pitted on lap 34, while Raikkonen was still stuck behind Carlos Sainz, the Ferrari on old tyres. The Ferrari was released when the Toro Rosso pitted a lap later. Kvyat had also increased his advantage on Vettel, with Hamilton overtaking Perez for 9th. Bottas the next on the road for Hamilton, just four seconds up the road. Gutierrez also pitted in the Haas.
Kvyat and Vettel pitted on the same lap, with Kvyat coming out ahead of Raikkonen and Vettel with the Finn letting his teammate through. Having overtaken his teammate he had a go at the Red Bull driver.
Rosberg pitted a lap later for a set of the medium tyres at the front of the field on lap 37, a long way in the lead for the Mercedes. Vettel overtook the Russian into the hairpin for second place, the Red Bull driver looking quite cautious on the outlap. Vettel on the soft tyre, Kvyat on the medium.
Ricciardo pitted on lap 38 for a set of the mediums, with Raikkonen taking a set of the soft tyres. Further up the field, Verstappen was up to fourth in the Toro Rosso, with Massa and Bottas close behind the Dutchman. Hamilton was only a second back on this group with all of them on the medium tyres.
Massa overtook Verstappen at the hairpin, with Hamilton close in behind Bottas. Ricciardo on medium tyre came on the back of the group, with Hamilton overtaking the Finn for fifth place. The Red Bull driver overtook Massa at the hairpin for 6th. Sainz overtook Button for 1th place.
Hamilton was on the back of Massa, with Daniel Ricciardo closing on the back of the Mercedes driver quickly. Hamilton was struggling with traction, aiding the advance of the Red Bull and slipping back on the Williams.
Ricciardo went down the inside of Hamilton at the turn 6 hairpin, with the Mercedes not looking like he could respond with the Australian straight onto the back of the Williams. He made the move stick on Massa at the hairpin for fourth on the same lap.
Hamilton was still battling with Massa, with Raikkonen closing in on the pair of them in 5th, 6th and 7th. With the Williams and Mercedes battling, Raikkonen got in on the action, making the move stick on lap 47. Raikkonen made the same move on lap 48, taking 5th place from Massa.
At the bottom end of the top ten, Sainz got ahead of Perez for tenth. With the race settling down, Verstappen closed in on Bottas, overtaking the Finn into the final hairpin on lap 55, with Sainz closing in on the Williams in the process.
Rosberg took the win from Vettel and Kvyat, Ricciardo in fourth and Raikkonen fifth, Massa sixth and Hamilton seventh. Verstappen ahead of teammate Sainz and Bottas in tenth.