Qualifying showed a brilliant effort from Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel starting on pole; stealing it from Kimi Räikönnen on his final lap of the session. Räikönnen completed a Ferrari 1-2 by qualifying in P2, just under half a tenth slower than his teammate. That’s the first Ferrar 1-2 for over a decade. Bottas and Hamilton qualified 4th and 5th respectively however with a grid penalty, Hamilton would start 9th. This meant that Pierre Gasly’s incredible effort of qualifying 6th was improved so he moved up to 5th. The Haas of Kevin Magnussen also benefitted and he was promoted to 6th. The other Toro Rosso of Hartley would start 11th. After what was described as a scruffy lap by team boss Gunther Steiner, Romain Grosjean would start 16th. Alfa Romeo Sauber were still struggling with Ericsson starting 17th and Charles Leclerc in 19th after a spin in Q1. Leclerc’s spin ruined what was his quickest lap.
The lights went out and everyone flew into turn 1. The Toro Rosso of Gasly was able to make his way past Daniel Riccardo into turn 1, however he was quickly reovertaken. Kimi Räikönnen lost out to Valteri Bottas off the start which meant that he was now down to 3rd. So after the first lap, Vettel lead from Bottas with Räikönnen in 3rd. Riccardo and Gasly were in 4th and 5th. Kevin Magnussen’s Haas was in 6th with his teammate Romain Grosjean down in 16th. Ericsson was 13th with his teammate Leclerc in 17th. The other Toro Rosso was battling on the fringes of the points; however he made contact with Perez at turn 4 which gave him a 10 second stop go penalty. Then at the start of the second lap, Verstappen, who had made a great start from 16th on the grid , made a move around the outside of Hamilton. He however made contact with his rear tyre on Hamilton’s front wing which gave him a puncture and forced him to retire. Things were not any better on the other side of the Red Bull garage. Daniel Riccardo had an electrical failure which forced him to pull off to the side of the track and retire too. This brought the Virtual Safety Car out. By lap 5, the Virtual Safety Car period was over. There was drama as soon as the cars got back up to racing speed however, as Magnussen and Gasly made contact whilst fighting for 4th place. Meanwhile, down the main staright, Hamilton flew past Alonso, Ocon and Hulkenberg to take 6th whilst Alonso also overtook Ocon. It was at this point that Max Verstappen decided to pull over and retire. Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton moved past Magnussen into 5th. By lap 8 he’d breezed past the Honda powered Toro Rosso of Gasly on the pit straight.
By lap 10, Vettel still lead from Bottas with Räikönnen with Hamilton trying his best to clos in in 4th. Gasly was holding hkis grid position well in 5th with Magnussen also holding position in 6th. Hartley was 10th with Ericsson in 12th. Grosjean and Leclerc were struggling in 14th and 17th. Some cars had started stopping on this lap, for example Sergio Perez went onto the mediums and Lance Stroll pitted for supersofts. A few laps later, Magnussen pitted and this time the stop from the Haas team was ok. The first safe release pitstop of the season from the team. Gasly stopped on lap 16 along with Hulkenberg and Vettel stopped two laps later from the lead of the race with Räikönnen stopping a lap later.
By lap 20, Bottas now lead from Hamilton. However neither had made a stop. Vettel and Räikönnen were thrid and 4th with Hartley in 5th (Hartley hadn’t stopped either.) Gasly was 6th Ericsson in 7th; another driver who hadn’t stopped. Magnussen was in 8th with Leclerc down in 16th with Grosjean in 17th. Bottas pitted a lap later which releasd Hamilton into the lead. However, by lap 26, Vettel had caught up to Hamilton and took the race lead off the Brit at turn 1 much to the delight of the crowd. Meanwhile Magnussen had made another pitstop which would help him get to the end of the race. On the other side of the garage, things were not going well for Romain Grosjean, who now had parts flying off his car. With his teammate now charging up towards the back of him as lap 30 approached, he would need to let his teammate through. However, he didn’t. On lap 31, Grosjean cut off Magnussen at turn 2, angering the Dane massively. Grosjean pitted at the end of the lap which set Magnussen free to chase down 8th place.
Kimi Räikönnen came into the pits for his second stop on lap 36. Everything appeared to go smoothly and he was released. A mechanic then fell to the floor as the car was released. He ha been run over by the back wheel of Räikönnen’s Ferrari. The rear left wheel had never come off. The mechanic had to go to hospital to recieve treatment and it has been released on social media that he is ok. Räikönnen however, was out of the race.
By lap 40, things were starting to hot up, Vettel still led and didn’t appear to be making a pit stop anytime soon. Bottas was on fresher rubber in second and was gaining on the Ferrari each lap. Hamilton was 3rd with Hulkenberg in 4th. Alonso was 5th with Gasly in 6th. The Haas of Kevin Magnussen was 7th with Marcus Ericsson incredibly in the points for Alfa Romeo Sauber in 8th. Hartley was 9th and Grosjean 11th with the Alfa Romeo Sauber of Leclerc in 15th. However, Hulkenberg and Alonso both stopped which meant Gasly was promoted up to 4th.
For the rest of the race. It was a straight shootout between the Mercedes of Valterri Bottas and the Ferrari of Vettel. Bottas got so close and at the start of the last lap, the gap was under a second. However, Vettel was able to hold on to his position and win the race with Bottas following him closly home in second. Hamilton was 3rd after starting down in 9th place. Gasly after an incredible drive was able to finish 4th and win the driver of the day award. 5th was Kevin Magnussen with Hulkenberg in 6th. Fernando Alonso finsihed 7th with his teammate Vandoorne. In my opinion, both of the McLaren drivers could have been driver of the day after such a poor qualifying. Marcus Ericsson got Alfa Romeo Sauber’s first points of the season in 9th and Ocon rounded off the points in 10th. Brendon Hartley was 17th after running in the points for a while. Leclerc was 12th with Grosjean 13th.
It was an extremely exciting race and it was a shame it had to end really. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel who has now got 50 out of 50 possible points. However I feel Kimi Räikönnen was very unlucky to finish the weekend the way he did. Hopefully we can see similar drama next time out in China.