Published On: Sun, Apr 17th, 2016

F1: Chinese Grand Prix – live!

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “F1: Nico Rosberg wins the Chinese Grand Prix – as it happened” was written by Niall McVeigh, for theguardian.com on Sunday 17th April 2016 08.11 UTC

9.11am BST

That’s about it from me after a breathless race in Shanghai; we’ll have a full report up shortly. After a few collisions, about a hundred pit stops. the long and the short of it is that Nico Rosberg has won six races in a row, and the first three of the season.

Everyone who has done that before has gone on to be world champion; with a 36-point lead over Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg is very much on course to do the same. Thanks for joining me. Bye!

Updated at 10.04am BST

8.55am BST

Things almost got heated backstage, with Vettel taking Kvyat to task over his flying start. “I was racing… I didn’t crash. We’re both on the podium” offers Kvyat, which winds Vettel up a treat. Much like in the race, the Russian gets the better of that exchange; it’s worth remembering the stewards saw no issue.

There’s eventually a conciliatory clink of massive champagne bottles between the pair on the podium, while Rosberg does his own thing. Much like in the race.

8.51am BST

The top ten

  1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  3. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull)
  4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
  5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
  6. Felipe Massa (Williams)
  7. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  8. Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso)
  9. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso)
  10. Valtteri Bottas (Williams)

8.46am BST

Ricciardo comes home fourth, Raikkonen fifth, and the Williams of Massa sixth. Hamilton just about holds off the marauding Max Verstappen to finish in seventh, with Carlos Sainz and Valtteri Bottas rounding out the points.

Over the team radios, Rosberg keeps calm, praising the car’s balance – “the best I’ve ever had”. Vettel, second place secured, offers his apologies to the team, and Kimi Raikkonen, for that first-corner incident. “I surely didn’t mean it”, he adds, cap very much in hand.

Updated at 8.47am BST

8.43am BST

Nico Rosberg wins the Chinese Grand Prix!

Miles clear of the chasing pack, Nico Rosberg makes it three out of three for the season, and six Grand Prix wins in a row! Sebastian Vettel is second after an eventful race, with Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat in third.

8.42am BST

Lap 55: Verstappen has got the better of Bottas on his medium tyres, and is up to eighth. Grosjean tells his team his car has been “undriveable”, but they want him to finish the race.

8.39am BST

Lap 54: Hamilton is apparently missing front downforce, still fighting Massa forlornly for sixth place. Just two laps to go, with the podium places looking set.

8.38am BST

Lap 53: Verstappen and Sainz are forming a Toro Rosso double team attack on Felipe Massa in eighth, while Alonso and Button have drifted out of the points. Stoffel Vandoorne looks set to remain McLaren’s only points scorer this season…

8.34am BST

Lap 51: Rosberg is 33(!) seconds ahead of Vettel, who has a relatively slim four-second lead over Kvyat. Incidentally, still no retirements – this could be just the fifth Grand Prix where every car crosses the finish line.

8.32am BST

Lap 50: Hamilton, who went out at a rate on this set of tyres, is struggling for grip, as he battles with Massa for sixth. The strategy hasn’t come together for Hamilton today, although scoring points from dead last isn’t too dreadful.

8.30am BST

Lap 48: Romain Grosjean hasn’t had a day to match his first two Grands Prix, but has just set a fastest lap on super soft tyres, down at the foot of the field. Raikkonen has moved past Massa and up to fifth. The top five: Rosberg, Vettel, Kvyat, Ricciardo, Raikkonen. It’s remarkable to see the Ferraris, and Ricciardo, fighting for the podium after the first few laps.

8.28am BST

Lap 47: Another rough lap for Hamilton, trying and failing to get past Massa, and allowing Raikkonen to slip past him on the inside! Rosberg is going to win this, but there’s plenty for Mercedes’ rivals to enjoy…

8.27am BST

Lap 46: We think what Renault are getting at, is that Kvyat flipped Palmer the bird after getting past him.

8.24am BST

Lap 45: Andrew Benton in Beijing reckons Hamilton can still finish second; that looks a tall order, but the Mercedes man is back on Massa’s tail after a difficult few laps.

8.22am BST

Lap 44: Ricciardo, searching for a hat-trick of fourth-placed finishes, motors past Massa to comfortably win that mini-battle for fourth. More bad news for Williams: with Bottas toiling, Raikkonen rolls past him on turn five to take seventh place.

8.21am BST

Lap 43: Ricciardo, six laps into his medium tyres, has the traction at turn four to push Hamilton back down to sixth! This is turning into a fine weekend for Red Bull…

8.19am BST

Lap 42: Ricciardo really testing Hamilton, who is still 0.8 seconds behind Massa in fourth. In third, Daniil Kvyat is upset with Palmer, ordering the Renault to “get out of my effing way” as he tries to lap him.

8.18am BST

Lap 41: Here’s the top ten with 15 laps to go…

  1. Rosberg
  2. Vettel
  3. Kvyat
  4. Massa
  5. Hamilton
  6. Ricciardo
  7. Bottas
  8. Raikkonen
  9. Perez
  10. Sainz

8.17am BST

Lap 40: Hamilton sizes up Bottas at turn nine, and makes an audacious pass down the inside! He’s up to fifth, with Ricciardo on fresher tyres tucked in behind him. Rosberg is 27 seconds clear of Vettel, but elsewhere, there’s plenty to fight for.

Updated at 8.18am BST

8.15am BST

Lap 39: Felipe Massa continues to outperform his Williams team-mate, and is now bearing down on Verstappen in the race for fourth. Hamilton is also on Bottas’ tail, with faint hopes of a podium finish…

8.14am BST

Lap 38: Ricciardo does pit, while Vettel has gone in, and re-emerged with soft tyres that he hopes will last until the end of the race. It’s been a tough day for Jolyon Palmer, dead last and the first car to be lapped by Rosberg.

Updated at 8.16am BST

8.12am BST

Lap 36: Rosberg pits again, and returns to the track with a healthy lead. Behind him, Vettel finally gets his sweet revenge, powering past Kvyat on the straight to go third – Ricciardo, up in second, will need to pit again promptly.

Updated at 8.13am BST

8.09am BST

Lap 35: Hamilton is still in a fight for a top ten finish, but gets around Perez on the outside to move back up to ninth. Meanwhile, with Kvyat pitting again, the Red Bull is back in a podium battle with Raikkonen and Vettel – the trio who got too close at the opening corner.

8.07am BST

Lap 34: Clouds rolling in, cooling the track down nicely, as things settle down after the mayhem of the first half of the race. Kvyat is holding off Vettel, and looking good for his first podium since Hungary, back in July.

8.02am BST

Lap 32: Hamilton back out on mediums, and in 13th place. Vettel is 1.3 seconds behind Kvyat, looking for some piping hot revenge for that incident at the first corner.

8.01am BST

Lap 31: Hamilton was told to push… because he’s about to pit again! Was five stops really necessary? Rosberg, by the way, i 25 seconds clear. Barring accidents, it’s going to be six in a row for the championship leader…

7.58am BST

Lap 30: “Give it everything you’ve got” is the order from Mercedes to Hamilton – he’s ninth, but still struggling to move through the field, unable to gain on Carlos Sainz and Raikkonen in a battle for seventh.

7.54am BST

Lap 28: Button pits, looking to last until the end of the race on his new set of tyres. Hamilton is up into the top ten, but still half a second behind Raikkonen. There’s still half of this race to go, after a dour first 28 laps…

Updated at 8.03am BST

7.54am BST

Lap 27: Bottas eventually finds a way around Button, who was making his McLaren as wide as possible, and is on Bottas’ tail. Further up the field, Vettel is just a second behind Kvyat, reeling in the Russian lap-by-lap.

7.52am BST

Lap 26: Button, on his 21st lap with those medium tyres, is speeding along like a wonky shopping trolley, with Massa, and then Perez – after a chicane battle with Button and Bottas – moving past him and into the top five.

7.50am BST

Lap 25: Hulkenberg tells his team to “think about going for the alternative strategy”. “We’re already on it” is the clipped response. Meanwhile, Raikkonen and Hamilton are locked in a battle for tenth place, and a single point.

7.49am BST

Lap 24: Hamilton is 11th after moving past Ericsson, losing pace on his mediums. Another man struggling on medium tyres is Jenson Button, clinging on to fourth. Rosberg’s lead is up to 14 seconds, with Kvyat and Vettel battling for second.

7.48am BST

Lap 23 of 56: After an all-action start to the race, here’s the top ten as it stands, with all 22 cars still on the track:

  1. Rosberg
  2. Kvyat
  3. Vettel
  4. Button
  5. Perez
  6. Massa
  7. Bottas
  8. Ricciardo
  9. Sainz
  10. Raikkonen

Updated at 7.55am BST

7.46am BST

Lap 22: Kvyat’s premature stop suggests Red Bull are racing for second, as Rosberg sets another fastest lap. Vettel is annoyed with his team for not telling him to chase Kvyat harder; perhaps he should keep a low profile after his start today.

7.44am BST

Lap 21: Nico Hulkenberg gets a five-second penalty for slowing down on his way into the pits, while Sergio Perez could be penalised for an unsafe release. Tough times for Force India. Hamilton had edged up to third, but is out of sync with the field – and pits for the fourth time.

Updated at 7.44am BST

7.42am BST

Lap 20: Rosberg heads for the pits shortly after Kvyat, with both drivers now on fresh soft tyres. Rosberg returns to the track ahead of Valtteri Bottas. He’s still in the lead.

7.41am BST

Lap 19: Ricciardo sets his fastest lap, as Pirelli report that his puncture was caused by debris on the track. He’ll wonder why the safety car didn’t come out earlier. Alonso is one of the drivers who has switched to mediums, as Kvyat comes in for his second stop…

7.39am BST

Lap 18: Rosberg has opened up an 11-second lead with all the action happening behind him. He could come into the pits and rejoing the race in the top five…

=

7.37am BST

Lap 17: Plenty of drivers heading to the pits to switch to medium tyres, with this rubber-burning track once again proving unfriendly to super softs. Hamilton is up to eighth, with Button tucked in behind him.

7.36am BST

Lap 16: Here’s the race so far, in chart form.

7.34am BST

Lap 15: Vettel has lost part of his left front wing in an earlier collision with Bottas – he’s had a lively day so far. The Ferrari is able to pass Alonso to go fourth, despite some impressive fight down the straight from the McLaren.

7.30am BST

Lap 14: Massa hasn’t offered much of a challenge to Rosberg, and Kvyat powers past him on the straight to go second! He’s seven seconds behind Rosberg, but the leader is yet to pit. Vettel, half a second behind Alonso, is being told to “push hard” by Ferrari.

7.29am BST

Lap 13: Hamilton is up to 13th, battling with Ricciardo at the tail end of a cluster of cars in mid-table. The Red Bull is 11th, with Hamilton 12th, apparently suffering no ill-effects from that first lap prang. Vettel catches Perez on that long straight, and is up to fifth.

7.27am BST

Lap 12: Those four racing for sixth place are all in sight of one another through a tricky hairpin – but the only change sees Vettel overtake Bottas with a risky manoeuvre. Gutierrez is struggling for pace though, and slides from sixth to tenth.

7.26am BST

Lap 11: A scrap for sixth, with Gutierrez holding off Perez, Bottas and Vettel. Kvyat has eased past the returning Fernando Alonso and is now third – it’s been an excellent race so far for the Russian.

7.24am BST

Lap 10: Button and Vettel making moves through the pack, with the former making light work of Carlos Sainz and Jolyon Palmer. His McLaren could barely overtake a National Express coach last season. Ricciardo is also making ground, while Hamilton has moved past Raikkonen near the back of the pack.

Updated at 7.25am BST

7.22am BST

Lap 9: The safety car is in, and the bunfight can begin with Manor’s Wehrlein testing Alonso; but Kvyat surges past Wehrlein and Gutierrez to move up to fourth! Further down the field, Vettel overtakes Hulkenberg, and is now 12th.

7.20am BST

Lap 8: We’re still under the safety car, with Vettel protesting that Kvyat’s surge off the start was “suicidal”. He was squeezed for room, but I don’t know about that. Here’s how they stand behind the safety car – some unusual names in this temporary top ten, with the top five yet to pit. Good news for Daniil Kvyat…

  1. Rosberg
  2. Massa
  3. Alonso
  4. Wehrlein
  5. Gutierrez
  6. Kvyat
  7. Palmer
  8. Haryanto
  9. Perez
  10. Bottas

7.17am BST

Lap 7: Hamilton has pitted, and switched to super softs. “All part of the plan,” the radio tells Hamilton, as a steward collects his front wing from the track. Hamilton is then asked to come in again, in order to switch to softs – matching the vast majority of his rivals. He had three sets of soft tyres to play with – that’s now down to one.

Updated at 7.25am BST

7.14am BST

Lap 6: A breather while the safety car is out, with Hamilton complaining that his car still doesn’t feel right. He was clipped by Nasr as the Ferraris’ collision sent a ripple through the pack.

Updated at 7.14am BST

7.13am BST

Lap 5: Cars pulling into the pits by the dozen, and there’s almost a pile-up behind the stacked Toro Rossos, with Jenson Button narrowly avoiding a collision…

Updated at 7.14am BST

7.11am BST

Lap 4: Bitterly disappointing for Ricciardo, who drops a mile down the order after taking an early lead. Rosberg meanwhile, is in the lead, as the safety car is deployed. That was inevitable, and good news for Hamilton and Raikkonen, in danger of getting cut adrift.

Updated at 7.14am BST

7.09am BST

Lap 3 of 56: Rosberg, half a second behind Ricciardo but on soft tyres, has just set a fastest lap. Ominous for the Red Bull driver… and Rosberg zooms past the Australian, who has a puncture! His left rear tyre explodes across the track, adding to the debris from the first lap…

7.07am BST

Lap 2 of 56: Vettel trying to battle back through the pack, while Jenson Button has moved up to eighth. The early top three makes good reading for Red Bull – Ricciardo, Rosberg, Kvyat.

7.06am BST

Lap 1 of 56: Vettel, who says Kvyat was coming up behind him “like a madman”, hit Raikkonen, forcing his team-mate off the track – while Hamilton was left with his front wing caught under his wheels! Those two, plus Haas’ Romain Grosjean, have all pitted to make urgent repairs. Crash, bang, wallop… what a first lap.

Updated at 10.05am BST

7.05am BST

It’s go, go, go

Good start from Rosberg, but a better start from Ricciardo, who leads into that testing first corner… but the two Ferraris, jostling for position, collide with each other, Vettel moving across and clattering into Raikkonen! Hamilton also sustains significant damage in a helter-skelter start…

Updated at 10.05am BST

6.59am BST

Five minutes until lights out, on a sweltering Shanghai afternoon. The grid’s shuffled around, the weather has thrown a spanner in the works – this could be good. If Hamilton can surge up the field early, perhaps we’ll get a repeat of the Mercedes beef that we saw here last year.

6.55am BST

Interesting comments from Jean Todt, hanging around at the back of the grid. The FIA chief had been resistant to reverting back to the old qualifying format, but said today that “if everyone is happy with 2015 qualifying, it works for me.” He did add that the furore had been a “necessary controversy”, and that he missed yesterday’s much-improved fight for pole, as he was on a plane…

6.44am BST

The track

Part of the F1 fixture list since 2004, Shanghai is arguably one of Hermann Tilke’s more testing new breed of tracks, with two 270-degree turns and the longest straight of the year. It’s a circuit Lewis Hamilton likes; he’s won here four times previously.

Video: everything you need to know about the Shanghai circuit

6.01pm BST

The grid

Rosberg on pole, but Daniel Ricciardo breaks an eight-race lockout of the front row by Mercedes – with Lewis Hamilton starting from the back of the field after engine problems in qualifying.

  1. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  2. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
  3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
  4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  5. Valtteri Bottas (Williams)
  6. Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull)
  7. Sergio Perez (Force India)
  8. Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso)
  9. Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso)
  10. Felipe Massa (Williams)
  11. Fernando Alonso (McLaren)
  12. Jenson Button (McLaren)
  13. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
  14. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
  15. Marcus Ericsson (Sauber)
  16. Felipe Nasr (Sauber)
  17. Kevin Magnussen (Renault)
  18. Esteban Gutierrez (Haas)
  19. Jolyon Palmer (Renault)
  20. Rio Haryanto (Manor)
  21. Pascal Wehrlein (Manor)
  22. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

Updated at 6.29am BST

5.55pm BST

Preamble

Hello! This could be the day when Nico Rosberg officially becomes Formula 1’s greatest loser. A win from pole here would move Rosberg clear of Stirling Moss to become, with 17 Grands Prix to his name, the best driver never to win the overall title. On the other hand, victory would put him in pole position to erase that unwanted record, post-haste.

Rosberg could pull up to another milestone with victory in Shanghai, joining Sebastien Vettel, Michael Schumacher and Alberto Ascari as the only drivers to win six Grands Prix in a row. Those three have 13 driver’s championships between them, while dad Keke has one, despite chalking up just five race wins. Ever.

If he is to finally earn a world title to cap a career that has seen him land 16 wins, 23 poles and 43 podiums so far, this is surely the place to put his foot to the floor. Rosberg’s 2012 win here was his first race victory, and began Mercedes’ era of dominance. He has come second in the last two seasons; no prizes for guessing who beat him.

That won’t happen today; Lewis Hamilton is mired at the back of the grid, so Rosberg will battle Danny Ricciardo and both Ferraris. Win, and a runaway title becomes a serious possibility. Lose, and he will have let Hamilton off the hook. The race starts at 3pm Shanghai time, 7am UK time.

Updated at 6.25am BST

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