Kurt Verlin
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2015 Chinese Grand Prix Recap: Tire Strategy Wins the Day

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Three races and three podiums into the season, and we’ve still got the same three drivers on the podium. If that sounds boring, it hasn’t been.

2015 Chinese Grand Prix Recap : Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton places first at the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix

For the second time this year, Vettel trailed Rosberg and Hamilton, and for the second time as well, Räikkönen scored fourth place. Another top four for Mercedes and Ferrari.

More from this Series: 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix Recap

And it was indeed Mercedes and Ferrari on whom all eyes were cast throughout the weekend. Some speculated the latter’s victory in Malaysia was a one-off, and others predicted the Prancing Horse would become a major force to finally challenge the Silver Arrows.

What we got instead was something in between. After Ferrari consistently showed superior tire management, Mercedes decided to go easier on their tires too. That meant slowing down just enough to be able to match Ferrari’s pit strategy, but not so much so that they’d be under risk of being overtaken.

Related: Top 5 Reasons to Watch the 2015 Formula 1 Season

It was an easy enough job for race leader Hamilton, though his teammate wasn’t very happy with it and made it known soon after the race. Hamilton deliberately slowing down meant that Vettel could stay close to Rosberg and put him under threat of an undercut, which Ferrari attempted twice.

2015 Chinese Grand Prix Recap : Nico Rosberg

Nico Rosberg wasn’t thrilled with his teammate’s tactics

Nevertheless, Mercedes’ pace proved to be enough to overcome this and they secured their usual 1-2 finish with Hamilton reigning on the top step, despite Ferrari’s best efforts.

The rest of the field was full of action. As ever, Ricciardo seemed to have inherited his predecessor’s curse of bad starts, losing a whopping ten positions right off the grid and then spending the rest of the race clawing eight of these back to finish in the points.

More from this Series: 2015 Australian Grand Prix Recap

McLaren once again failed to make Q2 in qualifying and to score any points during the race, which saw Button uncharacteristically crash into the rear of Maldonado’s car. For once, the latter was the one being crashed into and not the opposite.

Related: Meet the New McLaren-Honda Formula 1 Drivers

Rookie Max Verstappen showed the makings of a legendary racing driver and gave everyone a great show with bold outbraking maneuvers; unfortunately, his race was ended only three laps before the finish when his engine went up in flames.

This led to possibly one of the most entertaining moments of the afternoon, when marshals attempted to push his car off the track, only to fail repeatedly and so amusingly that it earned the cheer of the crowd.

The downside is that this caused the safety car to come out for the remainder of the race, depriving us of a battle for the final spot on the podium, as Räikkönen had been coming in hot on Vettel’s heels.

That’s it for the 2015 Chinese Grand Prix recap, but you won’t have to wait long for the next race. It’s race on in Bahrain next weekend!

Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.