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Racing : Motor
DELIGHTED BUNCH: Lewis Hamilton (second from left) celebrates with his McLaren teammate Jenson Button (third from right), team principal
SHANGHAI: Britain's Lewis Hamilton ended World champion Sebastian Vettel's triumphant start to the 2011 season on Sunday when he drove to a spectacular victory in the Chinese Grand Prix.
The 26-year-old McLaren driver, World champion in 2008, finished strongly on fresh tyres, passing the 23-year-old German with less than five laps remaining having managed to cut through the field in the closing stages.
“That was amazing, thank you so much,” Hamilton told his team over the radio as he cruised the circuit on his victory lap after outsmarting Vettel who had pitted sooner and whose worn-out treads could not keep pace with the Briton.
Vettel started on pole but lost the lead at the first corner to Hamilton's McLaren teammate and compatriot Jenson Button, who finished an ultimately disappointing fourth.
The win in Shanghai was the 15th victory of Hamilton's Formula One career and brought Vettel's recent winning streak to an end. “Many congratulations to Lewis, it was a superb drive by him today,” said his McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh. “It is always great to gain your first win of the year — and a big relief.”
Still on top
Vettel, after opening season wins in Australia and Malaysia, leads the title race with 68 points with Hamilton second on 47 and Button third on 38.
There was also joy on Sunday for Australia's Mark Webber who started a humiliating 18th on the grid but finished third behind his Red Bull teammate Vettel after a near-wondrous final push. German Nico Rosberg, one of several drivers who looked a possible winner after leading during the race, brought his Mercedes home in fifth place ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari.
Meanwhile, after securing points in the last two races, Force India drivers Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil returned empty-handed, finishing 11th and 15th respectively.
India's Narain Karthikeyn, driving for Hispania Racing, ended up 23rd while teammate Vinantonio Liuzzi brought up the rear.
The results: 1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1hr, 36mins, 58.226secs; 2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) +5.198s, 3. Mark Webber (Red Bull) +7.555, 4. Jenson Button (McLaren) +10.000, 5. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes GP) +13.448, 6. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) +15.840, 7. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) +30.622, 8. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP) +31.026, 9. Vitaly Petrov (Lotus-Renault) +57.404, 10. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) +1:03.273, 11. Paul di Resta (Force India) +1:08.757, 12. Nick Heidfeld (Lotus-Renault) +1:12.739, 13. Rubens Barrichello (Williams F1) +1:30.189, 14. Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) +1:30.671, 15. Adrian Sutil (Force India) +1 lap, 16. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus) +1 lap, 17. Sergio Perez (Sauber) +1 lap, 18. Pastor Maldonado (Williams F1) +1 lap, 19. Jarno Trulli (Lotus) +1 lap, 20. Jerome d'Ambrosio (Virgin Racing) +2 laps, 21. Timo Glock (Virgin Racing) +2 laps, 22. Narain Karthikeyan (Hispania) +2 laps, 23. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Hispania) +2 laps.
Overall standings: Drivers: 1. Sebastian Vettel 68.0 pts., 2. Lewis Hamilton 47.0, 3. Jenson Button 38.0, 4. Mark Webber 37.0, 5. Fernando Alonso 26.0, 6. Felipe Massa 24.0, 7. Vitaly Petrov 17.0, 8. Nick Heidfeld 15.0, 9. Nico Rosberg 10.0, 10. Kamui Kobayashi 7.0, 11. Michael Schumacher 6.0, 12. Sebastien Buemi 4.0, 13. Adrian Sutil 2.0, 14. Paul di Resta 2.0.
Constructors: 1. Red Bull 105.0 pts., 2. McLaren 85.0, 3. Ferrari 50.0, 4. Lotus-Renault 32.0, 5. Mercedes GP 16.0, 6. Sauber 7.0, 7. Toro Rosso 4.0, 8. Force India 4.0 . — Agencies
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