Nico Rosberg’s race-winning run continued on Sunday as he claimed an emphatic victory in the Chinese GP while behind him Formula 1 put on an incredible show.
Formula 1 put on an incredible display of racing at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday as many of the usual suspects found themselves well down the order and having to fight to get back to the front.
While Nico Rosberg had a race of his own, his advantage so huge that he was able to pit from the lead on lap 20 and re-emerge in the lead, behind him chaos at the start resulted in an action-packed race.
Contact between Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, with the former blaming Daniil Kvyat for driving “like a mad man” and giving him no room, meant both Ferrari drivers lost track position while Raikkonen had to pit for a new nose.
Lewis Hamilton, who started P22 as it is, was caught up in the tussle and also lost his front wing. He pitted for repairs along with Romain Grosjean and Felipe Nasr.
The drama continued as Daniel Ricciardo, who led the opening two laps of the race, suffered a puncture and fell well down the order. That brought out a Safety Car to clear debris and put into play in a mixed batch of strategies as the leading five drivers, which included Rosberg, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Gutierrez did not pit.
Behind them the racing intensified as the likes of Vettel and Hamilton stormed through the field, both as high as P3 at various stages, while Raikkonen and Ricciardo struggled to make the same impact.
And all the while Rosberg pulled away from the chasing pack, so much so that he could pit for a second time and once again emerge in the lead.
Kvyat found his strangle-hold on P2 under threat midway through the grand prix when he was caught by Vettel. The duo pitted together on lap 36, Kvyat onto mediums and Vettel onto the softs.
As the final pit stops played out, Rosberg was in the lead by 27 seconds over Vettel with Kvyat in third ahead of Massa, Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton, who had pitted for the fifth place – twice under the Safety Car as Mercedes gave him just one lap on the super-softs to get those out of the way.
Racing to the line Rosberg was unchallenged as he secured his third win of this season, moving up to 75 points in the championship. It was the biggest winning margin in China as the Mercedes driver crossed the line 37 seconds ahead of Vettel.
Kvyat completed the podium in third place ahead of his team-mate Ricciardo while Raikkonen recovered to fifth place, passing Massa and Hamilton in the latter stages of the 56-lap grand prix.
Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz and Valtteri Bottas completed the top ten while Sergio Perez missed out on a point as he was P11 despite having run as high as third early in the grand prix.
Haas’ points-scoring run ended with Esteban Gutierrez 14th and Grosjean P19.
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38:53.891
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari +37.776
3 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing +45.936
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing +52.688
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1:05.872
6 Felipe Massa Williams +1:15.511
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +1:18.230
8 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso +1:19.268
9 Carlos Sainz Jr Toro Rosso +1:24.127
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams +1:26.192
11 Sergio Perez Force India +1:34.283
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren +1:37.253
13 Jenson Button McLaren +1:41.990
14 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team +1 lap
15 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1 lap
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber +1 lap
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault F1 Team +1 lap
18 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Racing +1 lap
19 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team +1 lap
20 Felipe Nasr Sauber +1 lap
21 Rio Haryanto Manor Racing +1 lap
22 Jolyon Palmer Renault F1 Team +1 lap