Mercedes AMG Petronas British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates with champagne on the podium after winning the the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, east China, on April 20, 2014. (Xinhua/Fan Jun)
SHANGHAI, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Lewis Hamilton grabbed his third straight triumph of the season Sunday at the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix and the win also gave Mercedes the third straight one-two finish with Nico Rosberg sealed a far second place.
Hamilton, pole-sitter, won the race comfortably and never had been challenged in a time of one hour 33 minutes 28.338 seconds, 18.6 seconds better off his German teammate Rosberg, who was followed by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who had his first podium finish the season.
The third place can be counted a fillip for the two-time champion, whose best results came from the fourth places in Malaysia and Australia the season.
"It was a good weekend. We did improve the car a little bit compared to the first three races, so we felt more competitive and now in the race being here on the podium is some kind of surprise for us, a nice surprise finally.
"Happy with a podium finish today. I think I'm third in the drivers championship behind these two guys. So we didn't have the start of the season that we would like but at the end of the day we're still in the fight." ' Rosberg, who started from the fourth place, fell to sixth at the beginning, but caught back to third after 13 laps after four-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel had his first pit stop.
On Saturday, Hamilton had landed his 34th career pole position with a commanding performance and when the lights went out at the race start the Briton was equally strong, pulling away from the pack to hold his lead into turn one.
Behind him both Alonso, in P5, and Williamss Felipe Massa in P6 made excellent starts but as they approached turn one the pair moved to occupy the same space and they collided, banging wheels heavily.
Massa was the most disadvantaged, the Brazilian initially slipping to fifth and then later, in his first pit stop, having issues with a stuck rear left wheel. The long stop dropped him down the field and out of contention.
Hamilton gave credit to his car after his successive thriple victories. "I really felt a lot of energy but I really couldn't do this without all the hard work from the team, it's incredible. Honestly, I just can't believe how amazing the car is, and how hard everyone has worked. The results we're getting is a real true showing of all the hard work."
Hamilton took first pit stop in lap 18 with a lead of more than 30 seconds over second-placed Alonso, who was the first to take pit among top five, but just saw his lead plummetted to single digit.
"I did lose a lot of time after the first stop but still it was great. I am really happy that Nico (Rosberg) is up here with us, it's great points for the team and they really deserve it," added Hamilton.
Rosberg overtook Vettel in lap 23 to reach the third place after Alonso, who still maintained six-second advantage over the German.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo slipped past his teammate Vettel in lap 26 to have fourth place and never let it away.
Vettel also extended the fifth place to the end, but dropped a far 48 seconds to his Red Bull partner.
Hamilton built up again a comfortable lead of 12.9 seconds over Alonso after 28 laps, half of the 56-lap race, while the Spaniard was still 3.6 seconds ahead of Rosberg, but the German's powerful Silver Arrow helped him steadfastly to get rid of Alonso's advantage as race progressed. In lap 33, Mercedes radio wired Rosberg "push hard now to pass Alonso" as the two were just one second away.
Alonso entered the pit lane for the second time in lap 34 to give up the second place temperarily to Rosberg, who was 17.9 seconds behind his race leader Hamilton.
Rosberg and Ricciardo had second pit both in lap 38 and Alonso successfully retook the second place from Rosberg, who was 3.4 seconds better than fourth-placed Ricciardo. Hamilton kept a strong lead of 12.7 seconds over Alonso after the 2008 champion got out of the pit for second time in lap 39.
Rosberg finally powered through Alonso in lap 43 and gave Mercedes the third one-two finish in a row.
Hamilton maintained a consistent performance all through the race and never looked back with Rosberg claiming the fastest lap of 1:40.402 in the race in lap 39.
Rosberg still keeps the drivers standings with 79 points, but sees a narrowed lead of just four points over Hamilton. Alonso moved one place up to third with 41.
In constructors standings, Mercedes accumulated 154 points, 97 points more than second placed Red Bull.