Verstappen passes 9 cars in one lap in masterful China race

Verstappen passes 9 cars in one lap in masterful China race

Formula One is back with the Chinese Grand Prix. Vettel's Ferrari was second.

The Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen managed to progress early in the race.

Speaking to reporters, team boss Toto Wolff pulled out a €10 note that he won from the Austrian racing legend Lauda - now a Mercedes part-owner and non-executive chairperson - after their star driver Lewis Hamilton seized the pole in Shanghai.

"It is going to be one of the closest if not the closest [title race] I have ever experienced", said Hamilton. "It was a great, entertaining race", he said.

"The ultimate fighter always wants to go up against the best battle that you can have because, when you come out on top, it is so much more satisfying".

The young Dutch driver was even threatening Hamilton for the lead at one point, but fell back and eventually got passed by Vettel midway through the race.

So it seemed a reasonable forecast that Vettel would be quicker and more wily and take a second win for Ferrari.

Hamilton led away with Vettel holding off Bottas at Turn 1, with the Ferrari slow off the line despite being too far to the left of his grid slot - an error for which the stewards decided not to punish the German. "The race victor deserves to win, Lewis did the best job", he said.

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The other Mercedes auto did not have similar luck. Sebastian Vettel battled past his teammate to take second place, whilst Red Bull were having their own inter-team battle.

Midway through the first lap, Lance Stroll, who had made his first Q3 appearance on Saturday, was punted off by Force India's Sergio Perez, the Canadian rookie's Williams beached in the gravel and forcing an appearance by the Virtual Safety Car.

On a damp but drying track, the safety vehicle played its part early on.

Vettel took the opportunity to dive into the pits to change to dry weather tires. An early Virtual Safety Car period saw several drivers, including Vettel, make the switch to slick tyres, only for a full Safety Car period to follow several laps later when Antonio Giovinazzi crashed heavily. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +48.076s 6.

As well as this costing both Ferrari drivers time, Vettel was able to overtake Ricciardo shortly after passing Raikkonen. "I really enjoyed it and at this point I don't care about the rest of the year".

"I think that pace-wise we were a match today, sometimes he was faster, sometimes I was: if we can fight with Mercedes also in Bahrain that will be again good news".

Fifteen cars finished Sunday's race, with neither McLaren making it to the flag.