Lewis Hamilton kept the charging Sebastian Vettel at bay to claim his second straight podium finish this season at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday by a very tiny margin.
Vettel had started the race on a different strategy from the front-runners opting for the primes at the beginning while Hamilton, who started from pole position, ended the race on the harder compound.
After the Red Bull driver pitted for the quicker and softer Pirellis for the sprint to the chequered flag, he ate into Hamilton’s gap and looked set to feature on the podium with the Mercedes' tyres shot at the end trying to keep ahead of the German.
"I could see his car getting bigger and bigger in my mirrors so it was nice to be able to hang on for the third place," Hamilton said.
But in desperation to pass a backmarker, Vettel made a mistake on the final lap that allowed Hamilton a little breathing space who went on to clinch the third spot, but not before the triple champion charged again after the final corner.
“After the last stop, the team told me there was quite a big gap to the cars ahead, but also a big gap behind, so we thought we should go for it in the closing stages,” Vettel said. “When I came on to the long straight and saw Lewis at the other end turning into the hair pin I thought ‘well, that’s a bit too far’, but obviously we had much more speed on the fresher tyres.
“It was a little bit disappointing to lose out by such a tiny bit; a few corners more and we could have tried something,” he pointed out as the pair crossed the finish line separated by just two-tenths.
Vettel added that he was compromised in the first stint as he crucially missed out on getting clean laps when he was stuck behind the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg.