ENGLAND’S Lewis Hamilton toasted a return to form after he breathed new life into the world championship by pipping title rival Sebastian Vettel at the Chinese Grand Prix.
The McLaren driver claimed a first race win for eight months in an incident-packed contest that saw him reel in and overtake Red Bull’s Vettel with just four laps remaining.
The German, who was threatening to run away with a second successive drivers’ title having won the first two races of 2011, could not compete with Hamilton’s daring and superior tyres in the closing stages.
“I’m absolutely overwhelmed. It feels like a long, long time since I was sitting here,” said Hamilton, who, along with team-mate Jenson Button, passed pole-sitter Vettel at the very first corner.
“I feel very proud and extremely grateful for all the hard work the guys put in. I’m looking forward to many, many more great races like this. Every inch of the race, every second, was incredibly enjoyable.”
Vettel, who missed out on a fifth consecutive grand prix victory dating back to last season, cursed his uncharacteristically sluggish start.
“My start was not the best and for some reason it seems the left hand side of the grid is worse here than the right hand side,” said Vettel. “It wasn’t brilliant and I lost positions to Jenson and Lewis. After that it was about being patient.”
While Vettel limped over the line, team-mate Mark Webber stormed back from 18th to snatch third place from 2009 champion Button on the penultimate lap.
Nico Rosberg took fifth for Mercedes followed by the Ferrari pair of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, in sixth and seventh respectively, while Scotland’s Paul di Resta finished 11th for Force India.