Lewis Hamilton coasts to fifth title at Chinese Grand Prix

Chinese Grand Prix victor Lewis Hamilton says the final stint of the race was an example of "what racing is all about" because he and Sebastian Vettel were exchanging quick lap times despite a big gap on track.

Having missed out on a podium place at last weekend's curtain-raiser in Melbourne, Raikkonen, Ferrari's last world champion who returned to Maranello as a replacement for Felipe Massa in 2013, finished a distant fifth in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix after initially qualifying fourth and competing in third for a short while.

The Brit started from pole position and led from beginning to end to capture the 54th race title of his career and his first of the new Formula One season.

The Shanghai track was wet before the start of the race but drying out quickly it gave teams ample scope to consider strategy, even if a normal start was possible.

Hamilton finished tied on points with then team mate Fernando Alonso in 2007, the McLaren pair ending the season one point behind champion Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari.

"I'm so happy with my first win of the year and I can't believe it if I'm honest, ' said Hamilton after the race, which also handed him his 106th podium, putting him joint second with Alain Prost on the list of drivers with most rostrum results".

"A great job done by Vettel and this young dude Max. Yeah, he really squeezed me, but it was good fun and I had the inside for the next corner". He rose as high as second early on and managed to cling on to a podium position under heavy pressure from teammate Daniel Ricciardo late on - all of which was enough to win F1's official driver of the day award.

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"My pole lap put me in a great position and the start was just fantastic".

While Hamilton managed to steer clear of the early chaos, staying on intermediate tires, his German rival Vettel got caught after an early pit stop strategy failed to pan out when the second safety auto came out following a crash by Antonio Giovinazzi (Sauber), bunching the pack together. Lance Stroll went off into the gravel immediately, causing a virtual safety vehicle, meaning many quickly took the option to change to slicks.

Two lap later proper safety vehicle was out after Antonio Giovinazzi suffered his second heavy crash.

During his post-race interview, Hamilton said that this title challenge with Vettel is going to be the closest he has personally experienced.

"I think there's stuff that we can do better, must do better, can improve", the German said.

Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz took seventh with Haas F1 pilot Kevin Magnussen eighth passing both Force India's of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, who came home ninth and tenth in the final phase of the grand prix.

The next race is the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 16.

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