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Mercedes one-two as Ferrari commit team orders

Lewis Hamilton’s dominant victory ensured a third straight perfect finish for Mercedes in Formula One’s 1000th race.

Passing pole sitter Valtteri Bottas from the start, it was a routine victory from there on as no driver could challenge Hamilton for the lead.

Followed by a comfortable second for Bottas as Sebastian Vettel came home in third with Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly claiming the DHL Fastest Lap bonus point.

However, the drama at Ferrari just continues to transpire.

An in-garage rivalry may start to surface as Charles Leclerc was instructed to let Vettel pass-by into P3, leaving the Monegasque furious with such decision.

This then effected Leclerc’s race further as he dropped down into P5 with Max Verstappen finishing in between the Ferrari cars.

Vettel vs Leclerc, a new feud surfacing?

Overtaking Vettel at the start, Leclerc looked set to follow on from Bahrain and be the Ferrari car taking the fight to Mercedes.

However, the 21-year-old was unable to pull away as he was instructed to let Vettel pass-by on lap 11, in attempt to catch the Mercedes cars who benefitted hugely from the battle between the Ferrari drivers.

Although, this decision arrives as no surprise following the comments earlier in the weekend by team principal, Mattia Binotto, that Vettel would be favoured in “50/50 situations” as was witnessed in the race.

But, the four-time World Champion too didn’t have to pace to match Mercedes as the team-mates remained in close sight of each other.

Sebastian Vettel - Scuderia Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel – Scuderia Ferrari

And with the two Ferrari cars battling it out, this enabled Verstappen to cut the deficit becoming a three-way battle for P3.

To sum up Leclerc’s frustrations, the Monegasque simply asked: “Now what?” over team radio baffled by Vettel’s failure to pull away despite the team orders committed.

A chasing Verstappen then boxed which triggered pit stops across the front, as he successfully undercut Leclerc, leaving the Monegasque with a lonely race there on as he just did not have the pace to keep up since the switch.

Following the stop, Vettel and Verstappen then had a wheel-to-wheel battle for P3 with the Dutchman attempting on the inside of turn 15, but Vettel defended perfectly to keep position.

But, more battles couldn’t follow as Vettel pulled away to finish a comfortable third.

Mercedes one-two once again

With Ferrari looking like strong favourites in pre-season testing, nobody could predict Mercedes claiming three successive one-two finishes at the season start.

Albeit with luck in Bahrain, the Silver Arrows have been in a class of their own during 2019 with drama still occurring for Ferrari, as Mercedes continue to pounce on their rivals’ mistakes.

All this comes despite vocal claims that the Ferrari car is quicker, but it has only been in Bahrain where the Prancing Horse looked superior yet still failed to capitalise that race.

Lewis Hamilton leads Valterri Bottas. 2019 Chinese Grand Prix, Sunday

Lewis Hamilton leads Valterri Bottas. 2019 Chinese Grand Prix, Sunday – Wolfgang Wilhelm

However, it is speed in corners that is a necessity in China which the Silver Arrows have like none other.

Its fast, bendy turns means good downforce is the deciding factor around Shanghai as Mercedes comfortably came out on top, to stretch their lead in the constructor’s championship.

But regardless of such success so far, it is Azerbaijan up next in which the Baku street circuit should suit Ferrari perfectly with its many long straights. There is still no need to get carried away by the lead Mercedes currently occupy in the championship.

Alexander Albon

Whilst discussing Lando Norris in the race preview, it was a different rookie that impressed come race day as Albon finished tenth in his Toro Rosso.

This comes despite starting from the pit lane following the Thai’s crash in FP3, as he now has two successive point finishes in his debut season.

Alevander Albon - Torro Rosso

Alevander Albon – Torro Rosso

With a nightmare race for his team-mate Daniil Kvyat, it is Albon that has been the most impressive of the two in 2019 showcasing his excellent race-craft so far this season.

A positive start for Albon who may end up taking his sights to Gasly at Red Bull, who has had an underwhelming start for his new team.

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