CHAMPAGNE SHOWERS: Nico Rosberg (right) sprays 2015 Chinese GP winner Lewis Hamilton with champagne after the race on podium. Image: AFP / Greg Baker
SHANGHAI, China - Lewis Hamilton helped Mercedes reassert their authority over Ferrari by leading home team mate Nico Rosberg in a dominant display for the German outfit at the 2015 Formula 1 Chinese GP on Sunday.
The race had a slightly anti-climatic feel to its conclusion as the cars crossed the line behind a safety car but Hamilton controlled events from the front and always looked good value for his 35th career win and record-extending fourth in China.
Hamilton's engineers told him over the radio after the Briton backed up his practice dominance and pole position with the fastest lap of the race in his win: "Great stuff, Lewis, great stuff, stellar weekend mate, it's a full house."
After stunning Mercedes with a brilliant victory in Malaysia at the end of March, Sebastian Vettel threatened early in his Ferrari but once the cars were fitted with the medium-compound tyres for the final stint, the German's challenge faded.
A third podium in as many races since joining from Red Bull was still a great result and he would have been the most relieved when Max Verstappen's engine failure brought out the safety car as his fast-finishing team mate Kimi Raikkonen was looming large in his wing mirrors.
TOP OF THE LOG
Hamilton's second win in three races allowed him to extend his lead at the top of the championship standings, the Briton moving on to 68 points with Vettel on 55 and Rosberg a further four points adrift.
Hamilton had aggressively angled his car towards the inside on the grid to cover any attack from fellow front-row occupier Rosberg and once the lights went out, the Briton surged ahead of his team mate on the run to Turn 1.
Vettel protected third behind the two Mercedes but Raikkonen, who was left ruing another missed opportunity after qualifying sixth, surged past Williams' Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas off the line to slot into fourth.
Although Mercedes was expected to regain their dominant stride in the cooler Chinese conditions, Ferrari kept the Silver Arrows honest for most of the early running when the track was at his hottest and the cars fitted with soft tyres.
They lurked within striking distance throughout the opening runs and at one point after the first pit stops, seemed like genuine contenders for a second-straight win with Vettel reeling in the two cars ahead of him.
The German closed to within less than two seconds of Rosberg but fell behind after switching to the harder compound tyres as Mercedes shadowed Ferrari's tactics to avoid being outfoxed by the Italians as they had been in Malaysia.
Williams, who has been usurped by Ferrari as Mercedes' closest challengers, were unable to keep pace with the Italian cars once Raikkonen passed them on the opening lap as Massa and Bottas claimed fifth and sixth respectively, unable to challenge those ahead and well clear of the chasing pack.
Romain Grosjean had a steady drive to claim the first points of the season for Lotus in seventh.
Sauber claimed a double points finish with Felipe Nasr in eighth and Marcus Ericsson rounding out the top 10, the pair sandwiching Daniel Ricciardo, who endured another frustrating race in his under-performing Red Bull.
McLaren continued their early season struggles with Fernando Alonso finishing a lap down in 13th, ahead of Jenson Button, who damaged his front wing while attempting a late race pass on Pastor Maldonado in the other Lotus.
2015 Chinese GP results
1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min39:42.008
2 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes +00:00.714
3 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 00:02.988
4 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 00:03.835
5 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 00:08.544
6 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 00:09.885
7 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 00:19.008
8 Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber 00:22.625
9 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull 00:32.117
10 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber 1 lap
11 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 1 lap
12 Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 1 lap
13 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1 lap
14 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso - Renault 1 lap
15 Will Stevens (Britain) Marussia 2 laps
16 Roberto Merhi (Spain) Marussia 2 laps
17 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso 4 laps
r Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus 7 laps
r Daniil Kvyat (Russia) RedBull 41 laps
r Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India 47 laps
Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton, 1min42.208, lap 31.
Driver and constructor standings
1. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 68
2. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 55
3. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 51
4. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams 30
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 24
6. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 18
7. Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber 14
8. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull 11
9. Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 6
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India 6
11. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso 6
12. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso 6
13. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber 5
14. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Red Bull 2
15. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 1
16. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 0
17. Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 0
18. Roberto Merhi (Spain) Marussia 0
19. Will Stevens (Britain) Marussia 0
1. Mercedes 119
2. Ferrari 79
3. Williams-Mercedes 48
4. Sauber 19
5. RedBull 13
6. Toro Rosso 12
7. Force India 7
8. Lotus 6
9. McLaren 0
10. Marussia 0