Hamilton lauds Verstappen, wants Red Bull fight

The three-time world champion dominated from pole to finish at the Shanghai International Circuit in the main race, that was filled with action, on a track that initially was damp but started to dry after the first few laps.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen drove a masterful race through traffic to move up from 16th position on the starting grid to third place, fighting off a spirited challenge from teammate Daniel Ricciardo on the final lap.

Fifteen cars finished Sunday's 56-lap race, with neither McLaren making it to the flag.

Sebastian Vettel's 1:35.423 proved the second-fastest, with Valtteri Bottas' 1:26.849 third.

Marchionne added that the safety vehicle, which was brought out after Antonio Giovinazzi crashed on the start-finish straight, probably cost Vettel victory.

It was a key victory for Mercedes, which headed into the race second place in the overall standings following an upset victory by Ferrari in Australia last month.

A wet track caused havoc early on with the virtual safety auto deployed on lap one after Lance Stroll spun off in his Williams. "Would, could, should - I think Lewis was quick, full stop", he said.

"The start was fantastic, I'm so happy with the way starts are going so I'm going to keep that up!"

The outcome of the race could also have been different had Vettel's gamble to pit under the virtual safety auto on the opening lap not been undermined when the actual safety vehicle was deployed following crash a few laps later. "The race was a lot of fun, very entertaining. He [Vettel] was closing the gap but I managed to stay ahead". Those last 20 laps or so really exchanging times. "It was a good race".

Hamilton heaped praise on Vettel, the German four-time world champion, who was unlucky to have pitted just before a safety vehicle and emerged stuck in traffic.

His performances have already prompted Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne to urge team boss Maurizio Arrivabene to sit down with Raikkonen to discuss the situation. His tires now at the end of their life, Verstappen pitted one lap later, emerging in sixth place on another set of super-softs. The Finn, who has replaced retired champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, started third but a spin behind the safety vehicle dropped him down the field.Fifteen cars finished Sunday's 56-lap race, with neither McLaren making it to the flag.Fernando Alonso's hopes of a points finish were dashed by a driveshaft failure, while team mate Stoffel Vandoorne was sidelined with fuel pressure problems.

Ferrari seems to have a great chance at ending that drought in 2017 and Marchionne thinks the Shanghai race gave plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the remainder of the season.

"Obviously, we were a little unfortunate with the safety vehicle early on", Vettel said.

Who won the midfield points battle?

Instead, Kevin Magnussen claimed his first points for Haas with a strong drive to eighth.