Niki Lauda: 'Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel battle to be season-long'

Posted April 20, 2017

Despite being forced to settle for second in the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, Sebastian Vettel was happy with the result, and the German admitted to having a lot of fun during the race at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Lewis Hamilton mastered Shanghai's changing conditions and stayed clear of squabbling rivals to win the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton, left, and Sebastian Vettel at Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne, Australia, March 26.

Whilst Hamilton secured his first success of the 2017 calendar in Shanghai, Vettel made hard work of fighting for 2 on the podium in front of Verstappen to complete the top 3 for the weekend.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner says third and fourth was the maximum for his team in China, though he thinks the team was helped by Ferrari leaving Kimi Raikkonen in "no man's land" late in the race.

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Max Verstappen soon disposed of his Red Bull Racing teammate Daniel Ricciardo for second. Max Verstappen (Mercedes) - 25 points 4.

"The explanation is that Ferrari grew up in the Barcelona tests, won the first race and is still on the way up", said the 68-year-old Austrian, a three times Formula One world champion. "Then there were other times in the race when I was quicker". "It could have been a different race, but it was a good recovery".

Raikkonen admits himself that he can not be happy with how his season has started, but he has faith that better set-up decisions with his vehicle will help him turn the corner. The virtual safety vehicle was deplyed on lap 2 after contact between Willams' Lance Stoll and Sergio Perez's Force India and left the former's auto beached on to the gravel.

"But then I had a very exciting race". Vettel's pass of Verstappen on lap 28 was one of the most breathtaking of the day as the Ferrari driver surged past when Verstappen locked up momentarily.

His gamble backfired when Antonio Giovinazzi - standing in for Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber - crashed, bringing out the actual safety vehicle two laps later. The Toro Rosso driver dropped to the back of the field before Turn 1 such was the lack of grip and then ran off at the first corner, but would soon take advantage of a safety vehicle period.

In addition to Stroll and Giovinazzi, McLaren Honda's Stoffel Vandoorne also failed to finish, retiring on lap 18 with a technical problem, while Daniil Kvyat had to park his Toro Rosso a lap later.