Lewis Hamilton is a man on a mission in 2014. With undoubtedly the quickest car to start off the 2014 Formula One season and the will to take his second championship, Hamilton stormed into the Chinese Grand Prix looking to make it three wins in a row after a dismal start at the Australian Grand Prix allowed teammate Nico Rosberg to walk to victory. The two had a close encounter during the previous Grand Prix in Bahrain, after a late safety car period setup a frantic dash to the finish between the two Mercedes drivers.
The weekend didn’t start off smoothly for Hamilton, however. Friday’s free practices had the Mercedes team throwing everything but a kitchen sink at the car’s setup in order to help fix an ill-handling car. Whatever handling issues existed were resolved by the time qualifying rolled around on Saturday afternoon as Hamilton took pole by nearly half a second over Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and a full second over Ricciardo’s teammate and four-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel. The wet qualifying session saw Lotus make the final round of qualifying for the first time along with Williams again placing both their cars in the top ten to start.
Once the lights went out and the flags were dropped, Hamilton immediately darted away from the field on the start. Both the Williams’ of Valterri Bottas and Felipe Massa had contact before making it through turn one, with Bottas bouncing around before regaining control of his car and finishing in the seventh position. Fernando Alonso played a strong run off the line to eventually make his way past both Red Bull Racing drivers and into second position, behind Hamilton. However he was run down by Rosberg, who started back in sixth, and left in the dust. Ricciardo was held up in his pursuit of Alonso by his teammate Vettel, who initially refused to yield to his Australian teammate. However the German champion’s efforts to keep Ricciardo at bay eventually proved to be worthless and Ricciardo finished in fourth. There was a snafu at the finish, with the race being flagged a lap early causing a pass by Kamui Kobayashi on Jules Bianchi on the final lap to be invalidated. None of the race’s other positions were affected.