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The 1000th world championship-status Formula 1 race was somewhat uneventful by Shanghai standards. Its defining hard point was that Mercedes was simply a handy amount faster than Ferrari. The layout of the track allowed it to utilise its downforce advantage over Ferrari much more effectively than had Bahrain, meaning the Ferrari’s power advantage counted for less. The SF90 still isn’t the well-balanced thing it was in Barcelona testing and is over-using its outer-front tyre, this just compounding its small shortfall.
Within that hardpoint, the outcome was then decided by the respective starts of the two Mercedes drivers. Poleman Valtteri Bottas lit up his tyres as they caught the white-painted start/finish line which is placed perhaps inconveniently close to the pole position slot. He suspected at that moment he had just lost the race. Lewis Hamilton had laid down a lot more rubber on his dummy start from the grid and got better traction, slingshotting him straight into the lead. This was the final detail of rescue of Hamilton’s weekend – which had begun with him a long way from Bottas’ pace and requiring him to make a major adaptation of his driving style to solve the tricky tyre equation here.
“Once I was out front for a couple of laps, I could feel I had the pace and only then did I start to be confident,” said Hamilton.
It was, of course, a confidence very well placed and he duly rattled off his second consecutive victory to head Mercedes’ third 1-2 from three attempts.