Chinese F1 Grand Prix 2014 Results: Winner, Standings, Highlights and Reaction
Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg also bumped Valtteri Bottas in the scrap for position at the first corner. What a start!
By Lap 9, this was already turning into a procession for Hamilton as the Brit began to surge ahead of second-placed Vettel at the rate of a second a lap.
Adrian Sutil's horrendous season continued after his third retirement in succession early in proceedings, and Rosberg began to slip back after problems with his telemetry, according to F1 Racing on NBC.
Lap 11 saw a disastrous pit-stop for Massa. It appeared that his team didn't have the correct tyres available and the mix up saw his sixth place upon entering the pit lane, become last place as he exited.
Pit strategy began to play a part as we approached the end of the first third of the race, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo's stop brought him out behind Rosberg on Lap 16. Hamilton's pit on 18 allowed him to rejoin in first position, just 3.5 seconds ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso but with fresher tyres.
An astonishing battle for third on Lap 23 between Rosberg and Vettel had the crowd on their feet, the former stepped on the afterburners as they approached the home straight to take Vettel on the inside.
Just one lap later and team-mate Ricciardo began to push the German all the way as the Australian tried to make inroads and by Lap 26 Vettel moved aside to let the aggressive Ricciardo in. Not before disobeying team orders, according to F1 Racing on NBC.
Hamilton had surged 13 seconds ahead again by Lap 30, as Rosberg eased into third just over three seconds behind Alonso in second.
The telemetry problems for Rosberg were forcing him into constant radio contact with his team and the situation clearly irked the young German.
Via Sky Sports' live coverage of the race, he was heard on the team radio saying he was getting "very annoyed" at having to keep looking at the fuel gauge.
Inside the last 10 laps and Hamilton's serene drive continued with a 13-second gap to Rosberg, who was in second.
Alonso looked good for a podium at five seconds ahead of the chasing Ricciardo, who in turn was an extraordinary 14 seconds ahead of Red Bull colleague Vettel.
There was never any stopping Hamilton in truth, and his win secured the first hat-trick of his career, per Martin Brundle via the live Sky Sports (UK) broadcast of the race.
Fernando Alonso can be well pleased with Ferrari's first podium of the season, keeping Ricciardo at bay to take third just behind Rosberg.
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Full results per Formula1.com:
Updated Driver Standings
Here's how the drivers' championship looks after the fourth race of the 2014 season, per Formula1.com:
|4||Nico Hulkenberg||German||Force India-Mercedes||36|
|5||Sebastian Vettel||German||Red Bull Racing-Renault||33|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Australian||Red Bull Racing-Renault||24|
|10||Sergio Perez||Mexican||Force India-Mercedes||18|
Updated Team Standings
Here's how the constructors' championship looks after the fourth race of the 2014 season, per Formula1.com:
Per the Sky Sports (UK) broadcast, Martin Brundle conducted the post-race ceremony and firstly asked race-winner Hamilton for his comments:
I really couldn't do this without the hard work from the team. ... I really can't believe how good this car is. ... I had to make a lot of changes. ... but it worked perfectly. I'm really happy Nico is up here, too.
Brundle then avoided any confrontation with Rosberg by overlooking the fact he had finished second to his team-mate again but instead focused on his position still atop the driver's standings:
I plan to keep it that way. ... just considering the weekend was really really bad for me. ... I'm pleased with second and I just look forward to a good weekend again Barcelona. ... It's really a pleasure to drive this car at the moment, so thanks to the whole team. ... it increases the enjoyment level even further.
Finally, third-placed Fernando Alonso was asked about his first podium finish of the season amid huge cheers:
"It was a good weekend, we needed to improve the car a little bit. ... it's a nice surprise for us."
It was left to Hamilton to look ahead to the Spanish Grand Prix:
This team is on a roll that's for sure. ... we want to keep moving forwards.
I'm going to keep working hard, we are going to keep working hard, because everyone is pushing us.
Winners in China
The theme continues with Mercedes storming to victory yet again.
As soon as Lewis Hamilton surged away from the field from the off, there was never going to be anyone to catch him if he raced sensibly and studiously.
The rest of the field are in danger of being completely blown away by the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg throughout this F1 campaign.
Rosberg, too, given his start, powered through the Grand Prix.
If proof were needed as to how far ahead of the competition Mercedes remain, it was provided by the German on Lap 40 as he took 2.1 seconds out of Fernando Alonso's lead from the previous lap alone.
Losers in China
Not too much doubt who the real loser was in China.
For the third race in succession Sauber's Adrian Sutil had to retire early, this time his race was over by the 10th lap.
David Coulthard described the car as nothing more than an "expensive skateboard," according to BBCF1.
Felipe Massa can consider himself hard done by, too, although his exuberance from the grid could've ended his race before it began.
His pit stop on Lap 11 was comedic in its execution and put paid to any hopes that the Brazilian had of making an impression in Shanghai.
Sebastian Vettel's anger at his under-performing car was clear by Lap 35, per TheF1Times. Unless there is a sea-change in performance from Red Bull, the German is in for a long season.