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GP Week : Issue 112
Team-By-Team: Chinese Gr and Prix, Shanghai Hamilton’s decision to save a set of the soft Pirelli tyres in qualifying paid dividends on Sunday as he took his first victory in seven and a half months. He was supremly quick on his final stint, allowing him to jump Rosberg and Massa before setting after Vettel and getting past at turn 7 on lap 52. Jenson Button was ahead of his team-mate until taking his final pitstop one lap earlier. He was somewhat slower than Hamilton in clearing Rosberg and Massa, and was caught with two laps to go by the flying Webber. A bitter-sweet race for the reigning champions with Vettel slipping from pole to second place and Webber climbing from 18th to third. A poor start forced Vettel onto a slower two- stop strategy to try to jump the McLarens, but fell some five laps short before being caught by Hamilton despite another error-free race. KERS only worked intermittently during the race, costing him seconds and possibly the victory. Webber three-stopped to third thanks to a sensational final stint. A 31-second gap to Vettel was reduced to just two seconds in 15 laps. Vitaly Petrov showed that the Renault had the speed to get into the points on Sunday by finishing in ninth, but it should have been so much better for the Enstone team had it not been for a big underperformance in qualifying. From 10th on the grid, Petrov lost places off the line, but was the last two-stopping driver to make his second pitstop, allowing him to overtake Heidfeld, Kobayashi and di Resta in the closing laps to climb to 9th. Heidfeld also two-stopped, but had a shorter middle stint meaning he wasn’t able to keep pace with his team-mate in the final 10 laps, dropping him to 12th. An early pitstop for both Rosberg and Schumacher looked to have been the stroke of genius from the Mercedes pitwall as Rosberg led the race and Schumacher catapulted into the top six, but the poor overall pace of the W02 ultimately resulted in both dropping back come the end of the race. Rosberg was third after his final pitstop as the leading three- stopper, but was soon passed by Hamilton and Button to drop to fifth. After getting by Massa, he then lost a place to Webber, leaving him fifth at the flag, three places ahead of Schumacher who had finished eighth after a race-destroyingly slow second stint. Williams secured their first finishes of the new season after two double retirements in Australia and Malaysia, but there was little else to celebration after Barrichello and Maldonado brought their cars home in 13th and 18th. Barrichello made two pitstops but didn’t have the pace to challenge for points and ended almost 30 seconds behind 10th, while Maldonado was unable to get his three -stop strategy to work for him and he ended the race behind Team Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen. Change, it seems, cannot come quickly enough at Williams. There were numerous points during the race when Ferrari looked on for a strong result, but in the end they were unable to make their two-stop strategy work well enough. Despite going longer on his second stint than Vettel, Massa’s tyres didn’t hold together as well as the German’s and he fell from second place after his stop to sixth place at the flag. Alonso meanwhile had a poor second stint to blame for dropping to seventh at the flag, having had to surrender positions to Rosberg, Button and Hamilton as his soft tyres went off. 30