FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton finished on the podium following a thrilling 2012 Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

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The 27-year-old F1 motor racer from Hertfordshire took third place in today’s (Sunday’s) grand prix around the Shanghai International Circuit.

German Nico Rosberg won the race in China for Mercedes from pole position for his first grand prix victory.

He took the chequered flag 20 seconds ahead of McLaren driver Jenson Button.

With tyre management crucial in the closing stages, Button overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull with four laps to go for second place.

Hamilton then closed in on Vettel, who had older tyres, and passed the reigning F1 world champion on lap 55 of 56 for the final place on the podium.

The McLaren pitwall told Hamilton: “Great job, Lewis. The car ahead is now Jenson. One more lap to go at the end of this lap.”

After crossing the line third, Hamilton said: “A tough race, but a great result for the team. Well done to everyone.”

Mark Webber took fourth place in the final standings ahead of Red Bull colleague Vettel.

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was sixth, with the Williams cars of Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado seventh and eighth respectively.

Hamilton now leads the FIA F1 World Championship by two points from Button with 45 points after three successive podiums.

Seventh on the grid after a five-place penalty, Herts-born Hamilton gained a couple of places off the start line to run fifth by the end of the first lap.

With pole-sitter Nico Rosberg pulling away at the front in the silver Mercedes, Button and McLaren team-mate Hamilton found themselves in second and third places respectively after the first round of pitstops.

FIA F1 World Championship standings after the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix

1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 45

2 Jenson Button (McLaren) 43

3 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 37

4 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 36

5 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 28

6 Nico Robserg (Mercedes) 25

Their podium hopes were helped by Michael Schumacher having to retire from the race with a wheel problem after a botched Mercedes pitstop.

However, Hamilton found himself stuck in traffic behind Ferrari rival Felipe Massa following his second stop for tyres and he had to work his way through the field again.

The McLaren pitwall told Hamilton: “Passing the cars in front [Massa, Di Resta, Maldonado and Senna] is very important.”

On new rubber, Hamilton eventually overtook Massa and Scot Paul di Resta, who is managed by Lewis’ father Anthony.

With 33 laps gone, the 2008 F1 world champion was fifth and closing in on the Sauber of Sergio Perez, but had Mark Webber’s Red Bull in his mirrors.

Hamilton climbed into third place when Perez finally made his second stop and the McLaren man now had Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari on his tail.

Following his third stop, Hamilton was back down in 10th place with 15 laps to go.

With strategy coming into play, Hamilton carved his way back through the field in the closing laps.

He was told over the radio: “P2 is only 3s ahead of you. There’s everything to play for still.”

That was certainly the case with Button taking Vettel for second place with Hamilton crossing the line third.

The F1 circus heads to Bahrain next Sunday.

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