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2013-04-15 07:59

RED BULL ACE SMILING AGAIN: Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel showed a sterling performance at the 2013 Chinese GP. Image: AFP

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After spending the weekend as Formula 1's new bad guy, Sebastian Vettel won back many of his fans with a barnstorming finish the April 14 2013 Chinese Grand Prix, coming within a whisker of a remarkable place on the podium.

Vettel trailed third-placed Lewis Hamilton by 14.6 seconds with four laps left, but with the benefit of fresh soft tyres he put in a withering finish and ended up only two tenths of a second behind the Mercedes.

Vettel gambled on strategy by starting on the harder tyre and when he made the compulsory switch to the softs with five laps to go, a podium finish looked beyond him, with Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton more than a kilometer ahead.

CHANCING THE ODDS

Vettel said: "When I came on to the long straight and saw Lewis at the other end turning into the hairpin I thought 'well, that's a bit too far.'"

Vettel whittled the gap down to almost nothing in the final few corners, with Hamilton forced to lock up his wheels on the final turn as he pushed the car to the limit to stay ahead.

He said: "It was a little bit disappointing to lose out by such a tiny bit; a few corners more and we could have tried something."

He was held up marginally in the early part of the race behind Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg, and he said that ultimately cost him third, and probably second, place.

"I was faster than Nico but if you follow another car you lean on your front tyres too much and it was hard to find the right compromise, but overall we can be happy," Vettel said.

GETTING BACK

Happy was not a word readily associated with Vettel days before the race, as he threw off his standard happy-go-lucky demeanor and made some very sharp comments about his team mate Mark Webber.

He said the Australian's past actions had justified his decision at the previous race in Malaysia to ignore team orders and snatch victory away from his team mate.

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 Formula 1 season – fresh reports every day.


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