Exhilarating, exciting and thrilling are three words you could use to describe the Chinese Grand Prix.

And what a difference a week can make for Lewis Hamilton. After a disappointing and frustrating Malaysian Grand Prix, Hamilton could not have asked for a better race in China.

His final stint was very impressive and Lewis managed to get past his team-mate Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and Sebastian Vettel to take his first win of 2011. It was just what the 2008 World Champion needed after his Sepang misery.

Sebastian Vettel finished the race in second with his team-mate Mark Webber finishing the race in a superb third place after qualifying 18th.

And give credit where it is due to Pirelli. There were one or two people who questioned the Pirelli tyres before the start of the season. But the tyres and strategies have played their part in all three races and I’m sure they will continue to do so for the rest of the season.

Here are my team by team reviews of the Chinese weekend.

McLaren

Well if there was one man who was extra determined to have a better weekend it was Lewis Hamilton. He bounced back in fine style after what happened in Malaysia.

Hamilton might have been slightly disappointed not to have qualified on the front row but third was still a good position to be in. But he almost failed to make it to the grid on time due to a fuel leak.

Thankfully he did. Lewis and Jenson made flying starts to the race by getting past Vettel which was exactly what the doctor ordered for McLaren.

On lap 15, the neutral F1 fan was in for a comedy moment. Both Button and Vettel came in for their stops and Button for some inexplicable reason went into the Red Bull pit box with Seb right behind him.

It was a grave error and that allowed the 2010 World Champion to get past Jenson. The former Honda driver will have been gutted not to have ended up on the final step of the podium but there was nothing he could do to prevent Mark Webber getting past him on lap 56.

Jenson should not be too disheartened by what happened on Sunday and there is still a long way to go. For Lewis, he proved Red Bull and Vettel can be beaten. Great weekend for Hamilton and the team and they now have momentum heading to Istanbul.

Red Bull

It wasn’t quite the perfect weekend for Red Bull. But with both of their drivers coming home in second and third, the 2010 Constructors Champions cannot exactly complain can they.

Sebastian Vettel yet again qualified on pole and there will have been fans who thought Seb would go on to win his third consecutive race this year. But this time round, that did not happen.

The German made a poor start to the race with both Lewis and Jenson getting past him on the first lap. However Sebastian was able to finish the race in second despite being overtaken by Hamilton for the lead on lap 52.

I’m sure Vettel will have been disappointed not to have won the race but finishing second was by no means a disaster.

After qualifying in a lowly 18th place, Mark Webber put in a scintillating performance to finish third. For Lewis, it was a case of what a difference seven days can make and for Webber it was a case of what a difference 24 hours can make.

The Australian will have been absolutely distraught after what happened in qualifying on Saturday. But come the end of race day, Webber will have been delighted with the way the race unfolded for him.

Perhaps this result could be the kick start Mark needs and may be China will be a turning point in his season.  

Mercedes

It was a much better weekend for Mercedes after two below-par weekends for the team in Australia and Malaysia. Nico Rosberg finished the race in fifth and Michael Schumacher came home in eighth just behind Fernando Alonso.

Like Webber, China could be the weekend that kick starts Mercedes season. Rosberg and Schumacher were in contention for strong points finishes after both made strong starts to the race. Nico was at one point leading the race.

Even though Rosberg lost a couple of places in his last stint, he can be very happy with his weekends work. I would love to see Nico win his first race in Formula One this season.

There is no questioning his talent and if Mercedes can continue to improve the MGP W02 throughout 2011, then Rosberg could be in with a chance to win his first Grand Prix.

For Michael, it was not a brilliant weekend but it was an improvement. He will have been disappointed not to make it into Q3, but he certainly made a flyer to the race.

Schumi was competing with the Ferrari’s and he had an interesting battle against Fernando Alonso. Schumacher was up against Alonso for the 2006 Drivers crown.

Maybe we are now starting to see the best of the seven-time World Champion and in the race he pulled off some great moves.

Rosberg and Schumacher will be optimistic heading to the next Grand Prix in Turkeyand they will be hoping to build on what they achieved in China. All of a sudden things are not looking too bad at Mercedes.

Ferrari

The team from Maranello were expecting the same levels of performance in Malaysia at the Chinese Grand Prix. But for a team like Ferrari, they should be competing at the front against Red Bull and McLaren.

From pre-season testing we expected Ferrari to be Red Bull’s main competitors but things have not panned out like that. McLaren have made vast improvements since the final pre-season test and at the minute they are the team challenging last years Double World Champions.

But Felipe Massa yet again finished ahead of his team-mate Fernando Alonso and the Brazilian will no doubt take confidence from the fact he has beaten Alonso in two out of the three races so far.

Massa put in a solid performance in China and he should rightfully be pleased of what he achieved. He also managed to jump his team-mate at the start of the race again.

For Fernando he will have been disappointed to have finished the race in seventh but the Spaniard will not be too concerned at this stage of the season. With 16 races to go, there is plenty of time for Red Bull’s rivals to catch up and I’m sure Alonso will win races this year.

Other teams

For Renault, it was not quite a stellar weekend. Vitaly Petrov finished the race in 9th to pick up two points. And Nick Heidfeld finished outside the points.

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi finished in the final points scoring position ahead of Force India’s Paul di Resta. Sergio Perez did not have the best of weekends and he ended up getting a drive through late on in the race for causing a collision.

Scotsman di Resta is punching above his weight and yet again he qualified and finished the race ahead of his team-mate Adrian Sutil. Paul obviously will be frustrated not to have finished in the points but he has no doubt made a solid start to his Formula One career.

Williams had another miserable weekend with Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado finishing outside the points. To make matters worse, Maldonado finished behind Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen.

Williams are now under a serious amount of pressure to deliver. They are now not the potent force they used to be in the 80’s and 90’s which is a real shame.

Like Force India, Toro Rosso will have been disappointed they did not pick up some points in China. Drivers Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi had great qualifying sessions ending up seventh and ninth. But both were unable to capitalise and Alguersuari lost his right rear tyre and Buemi finished outside the top ten.

But many congratulations to Team Lotus and Kovalainen. The Finn finished ahead of Perez and Maldonado on outright pace and with big upgrades planned for Spain, Lotus will be looking to move further up the grid. Jarno Trulli was not far behind Maldonado and Perez so Lotus are making big strides forward for sure. 

Also congratulations to Virgin’s Jerome d’Ambrosio and Hispania. Jerome beat his more experienced team-mate Timo Glock in both qualifying and in the race. And despite their problems on and off the track, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan finished the race on Sunday for Hispania.

China certainly gave us a Grand Prix to remember and I just hope Turkey can serve us up with another cracker.

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