The Chinese Grand Prix went down to a thrilling battle between Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton over the last six laps, decided by tyre strategy. Hamilton passed Vettel for the lead with four laps to go, with the German driver then forced to defend from Jenson Button in the other McLaren and his Red Bull team mate Mark Webber.
Tyre strategy proved crucial to the outcome of the race, with the McLarens opting for a three-stop strategy while Red Bull selected two stops for Vettel and three stops for Mark Webber, who started from 18th on the grid after hitting problems on Saturday during free practice and qualifying.
Vettel was able to make his two-stop strategy work right up to the closing stages but he was completing a much longer stint on the hard tyres than his rivals, setting up a thrilling finish in which the top six were covered by just 15 seconds. There was plenty of overtaking in a lively race from start to finish, thanks to some thrilling battles featuring multiple world champions Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, as well as some of the new and exciting talents to emerge in the sport such as Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi.
“The races just seem to keep on getting better and better this year!”- commented Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery – “I think nobody watching really knew how it was going to finish until the very end, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve when we started our Formula One project. We saw an interesting split of strategies, with McLaren managing to make three stops work for Hamilton but Red Bull coming very close to winning with just two. The end result was that all the leading runners were very close together at the finish, and the people who had looked after their tyres best took the top results. It’s hard to imagine how we can top this at the next grand prix in Turkey, but we’re certainly going to try to have something just as good.”