6 Things You Need to Know from Race 1000 in China
69 years and 33 champions since the first race at Silverstone in 1950, Formula One hit the much-anticipated milestone of the 1000th world championship race at the Chinese Grand Prix.
The occasion might have been a special one but it was very much business as usual for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. A third consecutive 1-2 finish for the Silver Arrows and a 75th career victory for Hamilton. Here are six things you need to know from the race.
Squabbling Ferrari drivers
Another race, another disappointment for Ferrari. Once again the team were far too focused on internal affairs whilst the Mercedes duo were given the green flag to waltz into the distance.
After Leclerc was able to overtake Vettel off the start, the latter was able to remain within a second of his younger teammate. With Vettel believing he could go quicker, the two switched positions, only for their squabbling to bring Max Verstappen into play.
As expected, Verstappen performed an undercut and Ferrari were forced to sacrifice Leclerc, who at that point had little chance of getting out ahead of the Red Bull driver. The end result was Vettel in a very distant third and Leclerc a disappointing 5th.
Whatever your opinion on the Vettel/Leclerc dynamic, what cannot be denied is that they cannot afford too many results of this nature or Mercedes will walk away with both championships.
A Mercedes 1/2.....again
For the first time since the last three races of 2016, Mercedes complete three consecutive 1-2 finishes. In somewhat similar fashion to Melbourne, the race was ultimately decided on the run-up to the first corner as pole sitter Bottas was caught napping by Hamilton. The only difference in Melbourne being that the drivers were the other way round.
A narrow advantage in qualifying promised a close race with the Scuderia, and maybe even the Red Bull guys, but it became clear after a few laps that it was Mercedes' day. Three races in and Mercedes have 130 of a possible 132 points. Not a bad start.
The Torpedo Returns
The Shanghai International Circuit is essentially the birthplace of Daniil Kvyat's unfortunate 'torpedo' nickname and his first lap crash with not one, but both McLaren drivers, will hardly stop people calling him that.
In fairness to Kvyat, the incident was not black and white and is subject to interpretation. Opinions vary from racing incident to Kvyat's fault but when the Stewards brandished the Russian with a drive-through penalty, it was obvious who they believed was in the wrong. A case of someone's reputation preceding them?
Ricciardo's First Points in Yellow
After a tough start to his Renault career, Ricciardo got points on the board with an impressive 'best of the rest' drive to P7. There has been a sense of unfamiliarity to start Ricciardo's run in yellow, and understandably so, but everything seemed to come together at the circuit he won at in 2018.
A strong qualifying was followed by a trouble-free race. Despite having Perez a few seconds behind, Ricciardo seemed in control at all times and was able to effectively manage the gap.
Albon completes Pit Lane to Points challenge
Naturally a heavy crash is not something a driver ever wants to do but the timing made matters even worse for Alex Albon. His crash happening in FP3, leaving insufficient time to get the car ready for qualifying.
Starting in the pit lane, Albon demonstrated clinical overtaking and managed tyre-wear much more efficiently than the drivers around him. This allowed him to complete a one-stop and finish P10 despite enormous pressure from Romain Grosjean in the closing laps.
The Toro Rosso driver was then rewarded for his efforts by claiming Driver of the Day, an award that is seldom given out to drivers outside of the top three teams.
Gasly notches the fastest lap
Needless to say, Gasly has not enjoyed the best time after receiving a promotion from Toro Rosso to Red Bull. The third race of the season was far from brilliant for Gasly but it still counts as a vast upgrade from the first two races.
After failing to reach Q3 in the first two races, Gasly got the monkey off his back by qualifying 6th behind teammate Verstappen. A lonely drive to P6 in the race was made slightly more eventful as he decided on a late pitstop to grab an extra point for fastest lap.