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April 21, 2014

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Hamilton cruises to win despite flag blunder

AN embarrassing blunder gifted Lewis Hamilton a hat-trick of wins at the F1 Chinese Grand Prix yesterday after a steward brought out the chequered flag two laps early.

Kamui Kobayashi was demoted to 18th place and his late pass on Jules Bianchi was cancelled after the mistake forced a hasty revision of finishing times and race distance.

Hamilton led from start to finish and secured his third-straight victory after successes in Malaysia and Bahrain. He also became the first driver to win the crown three times in Shanghai.

With Nico Rosberg finishing second after starting from fourth place, Mercedes showed it was a touch above its rivals by completing a third successive one-two finish after four races.

Fernando Alonso, who started fifth, overtook the two Red Bull cars to take home the first podium finish this season for Ferrari. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen was eighth. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was fourth, while his teammate, defending world champion Sebastian Vettel, settled for fifth.

Hamilton is four points behind Rosberg’s 79 in the drivers’ standing. “I was just really racing myself. Can’t believe how amazing the car is. I couldn’t really have asked for more,” the Briton said.

Rosberg’s slow start dropped him to seventh but the German still managed to finish on the podium despite a telemetry malfunction. “We have the best car, and that makes it more enjoyable then to play catch-up. My telemetry failed. So I was completely on my own out there, telling the team what my fuel level is so that they could judge if I was using too much fuel or if I’m safe,” Rosberg said.

Mercedes leads the constructors’ championship with 154 points, almost a 100-point ahead over second-placed Red Bull which has 57 points.

A good start helped Alonso move up two positions from fifth and raced in second from lap 16, only to be edged by the faster Rosberg in the latter stages.

“We need to enjoy the result today but we still have a long way to go,” the Spaniard said.

Vettel again ignored team orders to let Ricciardo pass for the second race in a row but eventually had to relent. Ricciardo nearly caught Alonso at the end, falling short by 1.2 seconds.

About 185,000 fans showed up at the Shanghai International Circuit over the weekend. “I enjoyed the race. It was great fun,” said Xu Sheng, a Ferrari supporter. “It was a hard-fought podium finish for Alonso.”

Another racing fan Hu Yang said the atmosphere at the circuit was more enthusiastic than in the previous years.

“It has become an annual event now and has cultivated a certain number of fans, who can really understand the race,” Hu said.


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