Hamilton aiming for third straight grand prix win
Shanghai, China (SportsNetwork.com) - After their thrilling duel in the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this month, Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg take their Formula One world championship battle to China this weekend.
Hamilton and Rosberg swapped the lead multiple times during the 57-lap Bahrain Grand Prix before Hamilton beat Rosberg to the finish line by just one second for his second consecutive grand prix win.
"It was quite an exciting race," Hamilton said. "It was quite interesting to see the duel between each team and between teammates. It was a bit more like a go-kart race...I hope there are more races like that through the year."
Both drivers also finished 1-2 in the March 30 Malaysian Grand Prix, with Hamilton crossing the line 17 seconds ahead of Rosberg. In the March 16 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Rosberg scored the victory while Hamilton retired early in the race after starting on the pole.
Entering Sunday's 56-lap Chinese GP, Rosberg holds the lead in the world championship standings with 61 points. Hamilton is second in line with 50 points.
Hamilton has won in China twice when he drove for McLaren. His first victory at Shanghai International Circuit came during his 2008 world championship season. Hamilton's most recent win here occurred in 2011. He's finished third in the last two races.
"I'm getting stronger every time I come to this track, and it suits my driving style quite well," he said. "The aim, as always, is to win, and if I could make it three in a row this weekend that would be incredible."
Two years ago, Rosberg scored his maiden F1 race and pole wins in the Chinese GP. He put on a dominating performance in that event, beating McLaren's Jenson Button to the finish line by more than 20 seconds.
"I've got good memories from China after taking my first pole position and race win in Formula One at this circuit in 2012," Rosberg said. "The layout seems to suit my driving style. It's a track I enjoy racing at, and I want to be back on that top step of the podium this weekend."
Fernando Alonso from Ferrari is the only other driver who has multiple victories in the Chinese GP. Alonso's first win here occurred in 2005 when he drove for Renault. He also claimed the victory in last year's race after taking the lead from Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel with 13 laps to go and then beating Kimi Raikkonen to the finish line by 10 seconds. Raikkonen is now Alonso's teammate at Ferrari after driving for Lotus the past two seasons.
Alonso and Raikkonen have had a somewhat disappointing start to the season. Neither driver has yet to score a podium finish this year. Alonso finished fourth in both Australia and Malaysia and then ninth in Bahrain. Raikkonen has placed no better than seventh in the first three rounds.
"It's not where we wanted to be," Alonso said. "I think there is a lot of room to improve. We need to become better in all the areas from the car. There is a long way to go. The championship is very long, and we know that probably in the first [part] of the championship we will not be as competitive as Mercedes or some of the teams that are now on top.
"We need to maximize what we have in our hands now, try to score as many points as possible, and hopefully we can be very competitive later in the season."
Earlier this week, Stefano Domenicali resigned as team principal of Ferrari. The Italian team announced that Marco Mattiacci has replaced Domenicali in the role. Mattiacci had served as president and CEO of Ferrari North America.
Alonso does think it will take time for Mattiacci to settle into his new position with the team.
"I think we need to give him time and try to see how he settles down," Alonso said. "I think we need to make sure he has all the facilities ready, all the technical stuff ready, all the team behind him, try to help him settle down as fast as possible."
Ferrari has the most constructors' championships in F1 with 16 but has not won a title since 2008. The team is currently fifth in the constructors' point standings, well behind leader Mercedes.
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, April 20. Race: Chinese Grand Prix. Site: Shanghai International Circuit. Track: 3.387-mile (5.451-kilometer), 16-turn road course. Start Time: 3 a.m. ET. Laps: 56. Miles: 189.568 (305.066 km). 2013 Winner: Fernando Alonso. Television: NBC Sports Network.
04/17 15:37:59 ET