Max Verstappen took fourth place and 12 points at the Chinese Grand Prix, as Pierre Gasly 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 pole-sitting 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.
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.
MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 5th
“It was not an easy race but as a Team we did a really good job today. We planned a good strategy to undercut a Ferrari and stay ahead, so we definitely maximised the result to finish fourth ahead of Charles. I had a good battle with Seb when he came out of the pits on colder tyres which was good fun. That was my one shot and I tried but after that you could see that we didn’t quite have the pace to fight him to the end. I was pushing really hard and we can be happy with the team result. We still need a bit more pace to fight Mercedes and Ferrari but we are in a good position and collecting solid points each race.”
PIERRE GASLY, Finish Position: 6th, Start Position: 6th
“I’m happy to score my first fastest lap in F1 today. We saw that we had quite a big margin behind us in the last few laps, so we decided to go for it and have an extra pit stop which worked. During the race I tried to keep the rhythm, take care of my tyres and improve my feeling with the car. I’m slowly getting more confident, I think we take one step every weekend but of course I would like to take three every time. There is still work for me to do for the next race but the good thing is that I know what I need to improve and what I can do better. We are quite happy to finish in the points and take the extra point for fastest lap with us. Tonight I will make my way to the factory and spend tomorrow and the day after in the sim and we’ll work for the next race.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal:
“P4 and P6 today represents good teamwork. A strong strategy and being the first to adopt the two stop with Max allowed us to beat Charles Leclerc today. Max drove the wheels off the car all afternoon and although he fought hard to pass Vettel and challenge for a podium, we just didn’t quite have the pace to get ahead of him. It is great to see Pierre continuing to settle into our car and he had another solid race, finishing sixth and claiming fastest lap. He took one point away from Ferrari and gaining that additional point for fastest lap was a real positive for him, which I’m sure he will take confidence from.”