Hamilton scores first season win for Mercedes in China Grand Prix

Mercedes welcomes Ferrari attack warns of more to come

And so ahead of the Chinese grand prix, F1 is in the new and quite unfamiliar situation of another race in which the outcome is basically completely unknown.

Lewis Hamilton won his first race of the season, with a dominant win at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Vettel held onto his second position, 6.250 seconds behind, without having threatened the win while Verstappen's third completed a remarkable run from 16th in his Red Bull after a software problem hampered his qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton is braced for the "closest fight" of his Formula One career after drawing level on points with Sebastian Vettel following his victory in the Chinese Grand Prix yesterday.

With pit stops taking around 22 seconds, from arriving in the pit lane to returning to racing speed, Vettel and Ferrari would have been at the front very quickly when Hamilton needed to pit urgently to change his worn intermediates.

When asked if it was fair to suggest that the 2017 Ferrari F1 auto is more comfortable for Vettel than it is for Raikkonen, Marchionne said: "Absolutely no".

"It is going to be one of the closest championships, if not the closest I've personally ever experienced", proclaimed Hamilton, 32, who is relishing his battle with Vettel, three years his junior, this year.

Vettel agrees with Hamilton that the silver and red cars are closely matched.

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When the cars got back to full speed, the safety vehicle was soon deployed to clear Antonio Giovinazzi's crashed Sauber, with the neutralisation allowing Vettel's rivals to make their pit stops and minimise the time loss.

Both the Ferraris topped the final practice session and Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified fourth for the race, also topped the timesheets at the end of the first two parts of qualifying.

"I didn't have a lot of track time for auto balance because I barely did qualifying", said Verstappen, who finished fifth in the drivers' standings previous year. "I think I overtook nine cars in the opening lap so it was a very good race for me", Verstappen said.

There was disappointment for Ricciardo's team-mate Max Verstappen, who starts 19th after a fault in qualifying, with Britain's Jolyon Palmer also struggling to start from 18th.

"Those last 20 laps or so, we were really exchanging times and I tried to match it".

Vettel was up to the challenge of working his way back up the field, however, eventually passing Verstappen on lap 28, before unsuccessfully attempting to wrangle the lead from Hamilton.

Meanwhile, the Ferrari twins followed closely behind Ricciardo with Vettel at P5 and Australian ensured to keep the red cars at bay.

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