F1: Hamilton wins in China, Vettel second

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Lewis Hamilton was hailed as being "in a different league" to his rivals after he dominated the Chinese Grand Prix to join Sebastian Vettel at the summit of the Formula One championship.

Teammate Sebastian Vettel finished second and may have challenged for the win were it not for a strategy gamble early in the race which was undone by a poorly-timed Safety Car as the track dried out. With the win, Hamilton has now tied Alain Prost for second-most all-time career podiums, with 106. "But we'll keep pushing hard".

Verstappen, who is in only his first full season with Red Bull, was seventh at the end of lap one following a host of daredevil moves in the opening moments of the race. The result leaves Hamilton and Vettel hand-in-hand on 43 points.

By the time Vettel found his way past, with some spectacular overtaking that included banging wheels with his former Red Bull team-mate, Hamilton was just too far ahead.

The drivers had barely left the starting grid when Williams' Lance Stroll bumped against Sergio Perez of Force India and spun off the track into a bed of gravel. He was fine but the real safety vehicle was called.

Vettel took the opportunity to dive into the pits to change to dry weather tires. The safety auto was called again after Antonio Giovinazzi smashed his Sauber into a wall, allowing Hamilton to take a "free" pit stop to switch to soft tyres and build an early cushion.

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There is pressure already mounting on the Finn after his fifth-place finish in Shanghai, but he berated the team over the radio for not pitting him earlier than they eventually did.

When racing resumed, Vettel found himself held up behind Ricciardo and Raikkonen. So when I manage to get ahead it only compliments you, and vice-versa.

Raikkonen crossed the line a frustrated fifth.

Hamilton conceded afterwards that the pace between himself and Vettel was close and that the fight for victory may have been closer without the safety auto.

Fifteen cars finished Sunday's 56-lap race, with neither McLaren making it to the flag. The Finn has failed to finish on the podium in both races this season despite Ferrari clearly having a auto to match Mercedes at the front of the grid.

The China performance in particular also erased any lingering doubts about the championship credentials of the sport's most successful team, for whom the season-opening triumph marked a welcome return to form after a winless 2016.

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