Chinese GP Paper Review: Hamilton has the momentum, but what's happened to Vettel?
Shanghai winner hits the sweet spot - unlike the World Champion
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 24/04/14 8:24am
A third victory in China for Lewis Hamilton, then, and a third straight win for him this season. It's clear that an infectious momentum is building behind the Mercedes star as F1 returns to Europe, with the British papers trumpeting his latest success on Monday.
Hamilton still stands four points behind team-mate Nico Rosberg after the weekend's race in Shanghai but The Daily Telegraph clearly thinks it knows which way the wind is blowing by putting him slap bang on the front of its sport section alongside Jim Clark, whose record of 25 victories he has now matched.
'Lewis Hamilton has discovered his happy place,' wrote Daniel Johnson. 'And on the basis of his dominant drive to victory in Shanghai, if he can keep himself in that sweet spot all year then the rest of the field will struggle to keep up.'
So, a period of Clark-like dominance to come then? The 18-second margin of victory suggested as much, although two weeks earlier the reminiscence was more Villeneuve vs Arnoux Dijon '79 as the dominant Silver Arrows duelled wheel-to-wheel in Bahrain.
'Last time out Hamilton had demonstrated how to race and win cleanly yet decisively under the most intense pressure,' David Tremayne wrote in The Independent. 'This time he was totally untroubled throughout, and instead the lesson was all about tyre and fuel management judged to the nth degree.'
But with Hamilton 'racing himself' out front, The Guardian's Paul Weaver pointed out that 'the most interesting element of yesterday's race was the battle for the spoils at Red Bull, with [Daniel] Ricciardo once again proving too fast for [Sebastian] Vettel, his four-times world champion team-mate'.
As did Hamilton, Ricciardo got the better of his team-mate for the second race running. But while there's little surprise at the order in which the Silver Arrows finished, the same - emphatically - cannot be said of the World Champions, with Vettel grumbling and only grudgingly ceding ground to the Australian on lap 26.
The Times contrasted Hamilton's fortunes with those of Vettel. 'It would be easy to draw the wrong conclusions after four races,' wrote Kevin Eason, 'but F1 left Shanghai last night wondering whether this race had illuminated the claims to greatness of two champions.
'Could this be the end of the Vettel era or are we too quick to underscore those doubts about the true talent of a young man who exploited a truly superior car to the full for four seasons? The argument has often been put forward that, for all the excellence of Mark Webber, Vettel has never been up against a truly gifted team-mate - a Hamilton or a Fernando Alonso.
'Only time will tell but Christian Horner, Red Bull's team principal, freely admitted that his champion is struggling while his new partner is bursting with confidence.'
Elsewhere, Alonso claimed Ferrari's first podium of the season but McLaren endured a woeful race, with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen both trailling home out of the points.
It's been a turbulent week for the Scuderia, where Marco Mattiacci was installed as team boss last Monday after Stefano Domenicali threw in the towel. Welcome as Alonso's third place might be, however, it already seems as though the Italian marque is destined to be a bridesmaid once more. So what price another departure?
Back to The Independent, where Kevin Garside proposed a renewal of the nuptuals - out of sheer necessity - between Alonso and McLaren, even if the Spaniard's very own boss from hell, Ron Dennis, is back in charge at Woking.
'It would be some second marriage were Dennis to persuade Alonso to return to McLaren. Don't dismiss that out of hand' he wrote.
'Needs must, and as things stand both Alonso and McLaren are in need of something.'