Hamilton was quickest in China – when he needed to be

2015 Chinese Grand Prix lap times and fastest laps

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Although he controlled the pace when it suited him, Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap of the Chinese Grand Prix.

Chinese Grand Prix fastest laps

Each driver’s fastest lap:

Rank Driver Car Fastest lap Gap On lap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’42.208 31
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’42.565 0.357 39
3 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Renault 1’42.652 0.444 41
4 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’42.734 0.526 37
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’43.018 0.810 15
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’43.026 0.818 48
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’43.051 0.843 37
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes 1’43.134 0.926 34
9 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’43.245 1.037 46
10 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’43.512 1.304 44
11 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes 1’43.686 1.478 37
12 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1’43.692 1.484 46
13 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’43.728 1.520 40
14 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Renault 1’43.880 1.672 46
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’44.204 1.996 32
16 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’44.991 2.783 21
17 Will Stevens Manor-Ferrari 1’45.414 3.206 40
18 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’45.844 3.636 6
19 Roberto Merhi Manor-Ferrari 1’45.963 3.755 43
20 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-Renault 1’46.291 4.083 13

2015 Chinese Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “Hamilton was quickest in China – when he needed to be”

  1. Interesting to note that while in Australia and Malaysia, FL was over a second faster than last year, in China it was a massive 1,8 seconds slower.

    That makes to think that there was a big difference in wind conditions between these two years?

    1. Nope. If Mercedes ran their strategy, which would have been: Option-Prime-Option, we could have seen the fastest lap by 1 more second. Take a note that Lewis’ lap was on worn options even though he was in tyre conservation mode, and I am sure Rosberg would have done almost the same as him had they fitted the option tyre for the final stint. Take note that fuel also comes into effect.

      1. Indeed, if Hamilton actually had a fight on his hands, we would have seen a blistering pace at the front, a la Bahrain 2014, given what he had in his pocket on worn soft tires. It would have been interesting to see if Lowe would have called Rosberg to hold station if he had gotten frisky, given the tire wear concerns at the beginning. But there would have been on reason to hold him back in the last stint when they were leaving Ferrari behind.

        And here his the thing about Hamilton cruising. People talk like this is just like driving to the mall. Driving a series of laps to a .2-.3s window of lap time shows the kind of skill that separates the big guys in their own way. Yeah, it’s boring to most to watch a driver expertly manage like this. It’s also boring to see a top marathoner keep a pace of within a few seconds per mile every mile, but it’s also something to appreciate. In a marathon, the exertion and mental discipline is more obvious, but to me it is similar, on the mental side.

        1. It is much more difficult to drive to a pace close to the maximum than drive to a pace that is 1s slower than maximum. It is clear Hamilton is talented- but when he can just up the pace by 1s it is clear there is a lot in reserve and he is not pushing things. Personally I hate this “drive to pace” racing the current tires produce. The WEC race this weekend is a good show of being able to push on tires without fear of “using them up”. Why did Nico not attack Lewis “when he was slow”??? Didn’t want to use his tires and run the risk of Vettle beating him. It is all so backward- the endurance series with full dices and the “sprint” series is all about conservation. Such a shame.

          1. Well cartwheel, you have never raced in a tyre or fuel limited formula then. You have clearly no idea how difficult it is to retain concentration driving significantly slower than you know you can lap after lap keeping just enough speed to keep those behind you while staying sharp enough to not simply drift off and make a mistake. You don’t have to like the Pirelli formula (and I hate it) but until you can lap to the hundredth time and time again just bursting to go faster…
            Well don’t criticise – its much harder than it looks particularly with your team mate up your chuff – well wishing he was at least…

    2. Although interestingly both the Williams alone were quite close to last years time with Perez the next best.

  2. It seems like a effortless race for Hamilton. I would like to see Hamilton and Rosberg fighting on track and not outside. Sunday cruising not good for the show.

    1. They need to fix the aero so they can follow with less front deg, that was the problem.

      1. The aero wasn’t a problem when Hamilton, ignoring team guidance, ran down and passed Rosberg in Austin last year. Excuses, excuses. We even have DRS now and a massive straight in China where the wake is a huge advantage. Ferrari couldn’t get close because they are not fast enough. As for the rest, there was lots of passing down through the field. If rosberg thought Hamilton was too far within the envelope of performance, he had two options: attack or undercut and thus use the performance in his car. Aero wake was not his problem.

        1. @DaveW You hit the nail on the head. Rosberg cannot beat Lewis without ‘help’. By help I mean cheating or Lewis letting him win. Rosberg needs a big box of Kleenex and a new set of balls.

        2. @DaveW Different Circuts…Different Aero problems!

          1. You mean those aero problems that are just an opinion….

        3. I think the corner leading onto the straight is the issue @dmw. In Austin it’s sharp and non-aero whereas in China it goes on forever in that reverse P so if the front wing is in dirty air they just cannot get onto the straight anywhere near the car in front, unless they have a massive advantage like fresh tyres vs old, a faster out-of-position car, or Eriksson vs Verstappen on the brakes. It’s worse this year with the new nose I think.

          I don’t suppose Nico had the option to undercut, apart from the 2nd stop when Lewis blew him away with pace.

          Not that I meant to find myself defending Rosberg lol.

          1. Well I’m sure each and every driver knows this come the weekend, the answer is to out qualify your teammate if overtaking is impossible this year at China which IMO is completely bull.

      2. They need to fix the tires so the drivers can push on them! Drive to pace and staying 1.5s back is about tire management. Cruising at 1-1.5s below ultimate pace is about tire management. It is all about tire management these days- not racing. You would think you were watching endurance racing of years past…

        1. Exactly – more races like Sochi 2014 would be great!

  3. Interesting to see how close Ferrari are to Mercedes, well more Rosberg than Hamilton (who is in another level). If we compare to Abu Dhabi last season we have to admire their work and improvement. Let’s hope this year they do a good development and don’t go backwards like other seasons and maybe after mid season we have some battle in the front.

  4. Lucas Ramos Barbosa
    13th April 2015, 13:39

    It’s interesting to see that Williams had a similar pace with the Ferrari on the Medium compound. I am still wondering why they didn’t used the soft tyre on the last stint. It would be probably the right choice

    1. They didn’t have any more sets to use.

  5. so.. williams is on the same pace with ferrari with medium tyre..

    1. Lucas Ramos Barbosa
      13th April 2015, 13:47

      Yeah…Ferrari lost ground to Mercedes and almost to Williams on the Last stint

    2. According to Pirelli, Williams were running on the used mediums while Ferrari were on new ones.

  6. wow, vettel had an impressive lap time for so early in the race

  7. Please please can we add a way to set upper and lower bounds on Y axis. I really only want to see laptimes between 101sec and 107sec. The way it is now, I can barely see the difference between 103 and 102 lap which is hugely important in the race.

    1. Kevin George
      13th April 2015, 15:21

      I agree – or some checkbox to turn off in/out laps. The chart is meaningless as is.

  8. How many races this season are going to be:
    1 HAM
    2 ROS
    3 VET
    4 RAI

    I’m guessing at least 5 more.

    1. @chaddy Perhaps Hamilton-Rosberg-Vettel will challenge Vettel-Webber-Alonso as the most frequent podium order in history? It’s now happened three times I reckon (Malaysia this year and the other two races this year), and it could well happen many times before the season ends.

  9. It all just further proves Rosberg’s point I think!

    1. Yeah his teammate out drove him in every department and earned a magnificent win and 1,2 for the team…

  10. Wow…..vettel and kimi……identical times throughout the gp

    1. Alonso made a huge mistake leaving Ferrari so early. He would have put the SF-15T up there with the Mercs in China.

      1. Doubt it. Alonso likes a car with high levels of oversteer. He can adapt, but for a driver with a preferred style, like Kimi (or to a lesser degree) Vettel, getting into a car that suits their driving style makes for an almost unbeatable combination. Also, one of those Mercedes is being driven by a driver who, as a rookie, handled Alonso as an incumbent two time champion in the same car. Lewis is on top form at the moment, so I would be surprised if anyone could give him an honest challenge in the same car.

        Alonso is a great driver, but he’s not some all-powerful driving god. The ever underrated Button has been almost as strong on race pace and stronger in qualifying than Alonso so far this year, so you might tone it down a bit.

  11. If you want see something interesting, select none and select only RB and STR drivers.

    Verstappen is faster in 1st stint while Sainz is starting on mediums. On 2nd stint he ran with almost same pace as Ricciardo despite using medium (Ricciardo still use soft in his 2nd stint) that 3 laps older. On 3rd stint when both using mediums, Ricciardo have a little bit more pace, but Verstappen tires is 5 lap older. Sainz meanwhile running medium soft, soft where he is faster than Ricciardo and Verstappen after he switched to softs.

    In conclusion, Red Bull chassis is worse than Toro Rosso.

    1. To me it looks like Ricciardo was faster except when he was stuck behind the Sauber (ie. most of the race).

      Looking at second and third stint Ricciardo was way faster if you remove anomalies. You can clearly see jump in the third stint after clearing Ericsson.

  12. Keith, can you remove the safety laps from this, the scale is unreadable!

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