Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel was second in Sunday’s 2017 Chinese Grand Prix, finishing behind the Mercedes-Benz of Lewis Hamilton after Ferrari faltered its pit stop strategy in the early stages of the inclement weathered race.
Vettel qualified on the front row alongside pole-sitter Hamilton and got away clean when the lights went out. He fought off the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas headed into turn one, who started third on the grid, and followed Hamilton closely until pitting for slicks early on Lap 3.
Vettel’s gamble to change from the Intermediate tire before the two Mercedes wouldn’t pay off, however. On Lap 4, soon after the Ferrari exited the pits, Sauber rookie Antonio Giovinazzi crashed down the wet front straight, bringing out a full course caution and allowing Hamilton and Bottas to pit for fresh rubber and hold their positions.
With Vettel sixth after the restart, he found himself stuck behind teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who was still on the Intermediate tire and working to pass Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. Ferrari waited to pit Raikkonen for slicks, but Vettel eventually worked his way past him on Lap 20 and eventually found his way around Ricciardo and Verstappen as well. The German was unable to reel in Hamilton, though, who was showing good pace and had pulled out a considerable margin over the rest of the pack in clean air.
Raikkonen couldn’t challenge the Red Bulls for podium position and settled for fifth place overall, with Verstappen finishing third and Ricciardo fourth. Bottas was sixth after spinning in the wet behind the safety car, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz in seventh, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen in eighth and Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in ninth and tenth, respectively.
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