Max took fourth place and 12 points at the Chinese Grand Prix, as Pierre added a bonus point to his eight-point haul for sixth place by posting the fastest lap of the race thanks to a late surge on soft tyres.
When the lights went out at the start Lewis Hamilton made a good start from second place to power past polesitting team-mate Valtteri Bottas and take the lead. Starting from the same side of the grid as Hamilton, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also got away well to steal P3 from team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Behind them, Max held fifth off the line, with Pierre also retaining his starting position of sixth ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo.
Further back, there was trouble for McLaren as both Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris got tagged in a battle with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat. Norris was pitched into the air briefly and sustained floor damage while Sainz damaged his front wing. Both pitted for repairs at the end of the first lap and rejoined at the back of the field. Kvyat was soon handed a drive-through penalty for causing the collision.
By lap 10 Hamilton had opened up a solid lead ahead of Bottas, but fourth-placed Vettel was pushing to get past Leclerc. Despite the younger driver’s protestations that he was quicker than the four-time champion, Leclerc was told to move aside and on lap 11 he pulled across to allow Vettel to slip past into third place.
Max, meanwhile, was sticking with the leading pack, running a little over two seconds behind Leclerc. Pierre was still in sixth, eight seconds behind his team-mate but also a comfortable eight seconds ahead of Ricciardo.
Max headed for the pit lane at the end of lap 17 to take on hard tyres. A lap later Vettel mirrored the move and rejoined just ahead of Max.
The Dutch driver went on the offensive and tried an audacious, late-braking move down the inside into the hairpin. He got past but locked up slightly and Vettel was able to hold a wide line and retained his position.
Pierre, meanwhile, had also taken on hard tyres during his pit stop. He held sixth place after the tyre change but was suddenly embroiled in a battle with Räikkönen, who had yet to stop. The Alfa Romeo driver got by but Pierre stayed calm, hugged the racing line and retook P6 as they emerged from the next corner. Räikkönen soon dived towards the pit lane for new tyres and that put Pierre back in clear air, some 22 seconds ahead of Renault’s Ricciardo.
The race then went quiet until the second round of stops, triggered by Max. He pitted at the end of lap 34 for medium tyres and Ferrari responded by bringing in Vettel for the same compound a lap later. Mercedes then brought in their drivers for medium tyres and when the order settled, Hamilton led ahead of Leclerc who had not yet made a second stop, with Bottas now third ahead of Vettel and Max.
Bottas closed hard on Leclerc and despite some great defensive work by the Ferrari driver the Mercedes man was eventually able to get past to reclaim P2.
Pierre made his second pit stop at the end of lap 39, and with almost half a minute in hand over Ricciardo he was able to take on medium tyres and stay in sixth place.
Vettel now began to again close on Leclerc and this time the younger driver, on older tyres, gave way. Vettel swept into third place and Leclerc darted into the pits. That allowed Max to power past and reclaim fourth place, with Leclerc eventually rejoining almost 15 seconds behind the Red Bull.
With 10 laps remaining, race leader Hamilton held a comfortable 6.7s advantage over Bottas, with Vettel a further 4.6s behind. Max held fourth place 12s ahead of Leclerc with Pierre still in P6 and now 21 seconds ahead of Ricciardo.
The order at the top remained unchanged in the final laps, with Hamilton cruising to a 75th career win ahead of Bottas, Vettel and fourth-placed Max.
Pierre, though, was plotting a late, late charge. Vettel had held the race fastest lap, a tour of 1min34.836s, since soon after his second stop, and Pierre, with enough of a gap back to Ricciardo to take a free stop, pitted on lap 54 to take on a set of soft tyres. And on the final lap of the race he blasted across the line in a time of 1:34.742 to take another point to add to the eight earned for sixth place ahead of Ricciardo, Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, Räikkönen and Toro Rosso’s Alex Albon, who put in a great drive to claim a point for 10th place after starting from the pit lane.
OUR RACE IN NUMBERS:
1 – That’s the first fastest lap of Pierre’s career and the extra point earned takes his season tally to 13. P6 in the race and P6 in the Drivers’ Championship.
3 – Top-five Shanghai finishes for Max from five attempts. He was third in 2017, fifth last year and fourth today.
Chinese GP Race Result - Top 10:
- Lewis Hamilton
- Valtteri Bottas
- Sebastian Vettel
- MAX VERSTAPPEN
- Charles Leclerc
- PIERRE GASLY
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Sergio Perez
- Kimi Räikkönen
- Alexander Albon