Nico Rosberg won his sixth consecutive victory in China today ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat.
Even though Rosberg lost out to Daniel Ricciardo at the start, the Red Bull driver later suffered a puncture due to debris on the circuit, handing Mercedes the advantage again as the Safety Car came out. Contact further back into turn one between the two Ferrari’s when Kvyat made a bold move up the inside of Vettel into turn one, pitched Raikkonen into a spin and made Vettel fall down to ninth.
Further contact between Raikkonen and Felipe Nasr also made Lewis Hamilton – who was starting from the back having suffered ERS issues yesterday – lose his front wing, causing him to pit for damage.
Hamilton didn’t lose time though because the Safety Car allowed him to catch back up to the field along with Raikkonen and Ricciardo. Vettel was also recovering in his Ferrari as he picked his way through the midfield places at the restart, getting up to third place as he made use of the Soft tyres against both Williams drivers.
Ricciardo was also up to sixth whilst Hamilton was stuck behind Raikkonen, both of whom were on the Medium tyre at this stage nearly halfway through the race. Ferrari elected to pit Raikkonen for a new set of Softs after a couple of laps were spent holding up Hamilton, who was able to make his way back through the field after the second round of pitstops.
Elsewhere in the midfield Toro Rosso’s Max Vestappen and Carlos Sainz were on split stratagies but making moves, getting ahead of both McLaren’s before challenging Perez for 9th place. They quickly dispatched the Force India on their quicker rubber and closed the gap to the Williams in the final couple of laps.
Meanwhile Hamilton was up to seventh place after going longer on his set of Mediums this stint, although was finding it tough to pass Felipe Massa who was on Mediums that were 10 laps younger than his. Hamilton fought, but had to yeld to a quicker Kimi Raikkonen, who passed them both towards the end on his quicker set of Soft tyres.
Verstappen meanwhile made his way past Bottas, who dropped down to 10th place at the chequered flag once Carlos Sainz made his way through on the final lap.
Further down the field the two Haas drivers were having a nightmare afternoon. Romain Grosjean picked up damage at the start which hampered him throughout the race, whilst Esteban Gutierrez seemed to be on a slower three-stop strategy. They ended up 19th and 14th respectively, with Pascal Wehrlein finishing in 18th ahead of Grosjean after having a brief stint in the top five at the Safety Car restart when he didn’t pit.
Nico Hulkenberg finished P15 with a five second time penalty which he received for going too slowly in the pits. Whilst the two Renault’s were P17 and P22, with Palmer finishing in last place after struggling with balance issues throughout.