Beijing: Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton brilliantly passed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and teammate Valtteri Bottas to make it two wins out of three in the 2021 Formula 1 season.
Starting second on the grid behind Bottas, Hamilton dropped to third behind Verstappen on lap 6 after being caught out by the return to racing speed following an early safety car period.
Undeterred at having lost a position, Hamilton retook second place on the main straight on lap 11 after Verstappen was slow out of the final corner, and passed Bottas in a similar fashion on lap 20 to move into the lead and take control of the race.
“That was such a tough race, physically and mentally, keeping everything together. I didn’t quite get as good a start as Valtteri and then lost out at the restart which was not good,” said Hamilton afterwards.
“I had to try and reposition myself best I could. I think Max made a mistake at some point and that was perfect. With Valtteri, I had to make the move early on before the tyres were destroyed and I just managed to get him at Turn 1. Right on my limit. Great race.”
“There’s a lot to download from today, improvements we can make. It wasn’t all perfect so we will look at those points.”
Behind Hamilton, Verstappen took second place on a day when Red Bull did not appear as comfortable on the harder tyre compound as Mercedes, while Bottas rounded out the top three and also took the bonus point for fastest lap.
Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez had a lonely run to fourth, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris in fifth. Charles Leclerc finished sixth in his Ferrari, with the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso ending strongly to take seventh and eighth places.
Norris’ teammate Daniel Ricciardo recovered from a poor grid position to take ninth, with the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly rounding out the top ten.
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen was the only driver not to see the chequered flag, after snagging teammate Antonio Giovinazzi on lap 1 and damaging his front wing, with the resultant debris also seeing the introduction of the safety car.
Following his victory, Hamilton now leads the drivers’ championship with 69 points. Verstappen sits second on 61 points, ahead of Norris on 37.
In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes lead the way with 101 points. Red Bull are second with 83 points, and McLaren sit third on 53.
The next round of the 2021 Formula 1 season is the Spanish Grand Prix at Montmelo on May 9.