Thursday 17 August 2017

Hamilton sets up thrilling battle

 

Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth win in Shanghai after leading every lap in the inclement conditions. Image: AP Photo/Andy Wong
Lewis Hamilton claimed his fifth win in Shanghai after leading every lap in the inclement conditions. Image: AP Photo/Andy Wong

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Lewis Hamilton has predicted the closest title battle of his career after joining Sebastian Vettel at the summit of the Formula One Championship with a crushing victory in China.

Hamilton claimed his fifth win in Shanghai after leading every lap in the inclement conditions, as Vettel, who took the chequered flag in Australia a fortnight ago, recovered from fifth to finish six seconds adrift of his title rival.

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen produced another virtuoso display to complete the podium. He rose 13 places from 16th on the grid - including a sensational nine on the opening lap - to cement his status as the rising star of the sport.

Vettel's race here was scuppered by a portion of bad luck. His Ferrari team pulled him into the pits to change to slick tyres on just the second lap, following the deployment of the virtual safety car as Lance Stroll was punted out of the race by Sergio Perez.

However, when the safety car was deployed for real only moments later, after Antonio Giovinazzi crashed his Sauber for the second time in as many days, Hamilton could stop for dry rubber.

It allowed him to retain his lead before marching to his first win of the campaign and the 54th of his incredible career.

The result leaves Hamilton and Vettel level on 43 points.

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