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Hamilton Gets Off The Mark in China

Posted on April 18, 2011 by Rod Crowley

The 2011 China Grand Prix will go down in history as one of the very best and one that will live long in the memory of the race winner, Lewis Hamilton, who once again proved why he is the sport’s biggest box office attraction.

If there was ever a Grand Prix that had everything then this was it in Shanghai, a battle of race strategies, incredible overtaking, particularly by Hamilton, a charge from the back from Mark Webber of Red Bull that defied belief, It also had a moment of serious embarrassment when McLaren’s Jenson Button parked his car in the Red Bull pit for a tyre change, a mistake which cost him the lead in the race at the time.

Hamilton, had qualified only in third place on the grid after deciding that he will only make one run in the final q3 practice in order to preserve the tyres that he would be starting with. This would mean that he would adopt a three stop strategy as opposed to the two to be made by Vettel in his Red Bull.

He had to endure a scare before the start of the race where a minor fuel leak was detected and which was only rectified within a half minute of the start time. Notwithstanding, Hamilton got off to a flyer off the grid, charging up the inside of Vettel which demoted the world champion to third place as Button had already steamed past him to lead.

After that explosive start, Hamilton proceeded to drive like a man with the chequered flag on his mind. He knew that he could change to the soft option tyres three times which effectively guaranteed his car would simply get quicker and quicker as the race progressed. That said his first pit stop did not go too well and after rejoining the race he found himself in fifth place, but still well in contention.

His team mate Button however, normally a man who thrives on race strategies had no such good fortune, he could find no traction on his rear tyres and having lost the lead to Vettel by his pit lane blunder on lap 14, he became a ‘sitting duck’ for Hamilton, once the Hamilton charge began.

Hamilton certainly showed no respect for his team mate when he eventually caught him on lap 35, he produced a highly exciting overtake manoeuvre which had the crowds cheering wildly. From that moment it was all about whether there would be sufficient time for him to chase down the race leaders, of Massa, Rosberg and Vettel.

Meanwhile while Hamilton was hot in pursuit of the front three, Mark Webber in the second Red Bull was producing an incredible run from the back of the field. Having the advantage of three sets of options due to only qualifying in 18th place, Webber made a mockery of the importance of grid position as he continued to head towards the leaders where by the 37th lap he was in a battle royal with Michael Schumacher for sixth position.

Hamilton easily went past Rosberg on Lap 42 and finally caught up with Massa three laps later going past him just as easily. This left Vettel out in front and a dangerous charging Red Bull behind him with Webber at the wheel and who was catching the now third place Button rapidly.

Hamilton by this stage was far quicker than Red Bull whose tyres were much older, Vettel must have known that it was just a question of when and not if Lewis took the lead. He fought the Englishman off bravely for a lap or so, but by the next, the race as good as over, with Hamilton going into the lead on lap 52, with just four laps to go.

By the time the chequered flag came, Hamilton was five seconds ahead of Vettel, but it came as no surprise to see that Webber had also taken Button, who by that time had gone past Massa, to win the battle for third place and a very unlikely podium finish.

The win saw Lewis Hamilton become the clear second favourite in the F1 Betting Odds on the 2011 Driver Championship behind Vettel remains the man to beat. Red Bull remains the favourite to win the Constructors title.

The next F1 Race is the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday 8th May.

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