SHANGHAI, April 17: Nico Rosberg extended his championship lead over Lewis Hamilton with a thumping victory in Sunday�s Chinese Grand Prix. Hamilton, who started from last after his engine expired in qualifying, stopped five times in a race brimming with drama, and eventually crossed the line in seventh place.
It means that Rosberg, who has become only the fourth driver in the sport�s history to win six races in succession - a streak which stretches back to last year - now holds a 36-point lead over Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel, involved in a first-corner collision with his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, finished second following an exemplary recovery drive with Red Bull�s Daniil Kvyat claiming the final spot on the podium. Despite a number of incidents and plenty of excitement, there were no retirements at all in the race.
Earlier this week, Hamilton predicted that Rosberg would be guaranteed an �easy� weekend after he was dealt a five-place grid penalty following a gearbox change. But not even Hamilton, nor Rosberg for that matter, would have envisaged just how straightforward it would prove to be.
After Vettel and Raikkonen collided with each other at the opening corner - both having to take on replacement front wings - and then Daniel Ricciardo, who had beaten Rosberg off the line, suffered a tyre blow-out on the following lap, Rosberg�s main opposition had been wiped out in the opening minutes of the race.
At the back of the field, Felipe Nasr attempted to avoid Raikkonen and Vettel, but instead bumped into Hamilton causing the latter to lose his front wing. The world champion was forced into the pit lane, and emerged last but one in the order.
A safety car was deployed to clear the debris following Ricciardo�s tyre blow-out, at which point Mercedes opted to call Hamilton in once more. With the safety car on track, their theory was for Hamilton to do just one lap on the supersoft tyre compound - the fastest but least durable of the three compounds available - before pitting again for the soft tyre option.
Hamilton had stopped three times in the opening six laps, but with the safety car still on track, he was right on the back of the pack when the race got under way again on lap nine.
From there, Hamilton, who also suffered damage to the floor of his Mercedes in his first-corner prang, was on a recovery drive, joined by Raikkonen in 19th and Vettel 15th.
The championship protagonists sets about carving their way through the field, and by the next round of pit-stops, the trio had made light work of much of the opposition with Vettel and Hamilton in particular holding nothing back to provide great entertainment. � PTI