Soaking in all the sights and sounds of a long awaited victory, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton relished the Chinese Grand Prix - albeit, doused with a champagne barrage by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
For a moment at Shanghai, it looked like it would be deja vu once again in the Formula One world, with Vettel winning the pole and in posititon for another victory while Hamilton would come up short again.
However, things were a little different on Sunday afternoon.
Hamilton and his team urged their way to the lead with less than five laps remaining, driving past Vettel, as tyre management and pit stops were the factors deciding this race.
Electing to pit three times, the fresher rubber paid off for the 2008 series champion, defeating the 23-year-old German to the stripe by 5.1 seconds.
The race came down to pit strategy via tyre management and fuel conservation, with teams either going for two stops or in some cases, like with Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, three trips down pit lane.
Ultimately, Hamilton's McLaren Mercedes had more car and fresher tyres to defeat manufacturer rivals in Vettel and Webber.
"With the whole thing that happened in the pit lane...perhaps I wasn't even going to be in the race," Hamilton said per a Reuters race recap. "I thought I was going to be back with Mark (Webber)."
Instead, the British racer ended up battling with arguably the series' dominant force in Vettel, whose car just lost the grip and handle towards the finish.
"The pace was there," Vettel said following his runner-up finish. "It was there all weekend but once we decided to go to two stop (pit strategy) you have to be patient, look after your tyres and when it doesn't work, it doesn't work.
"I saw there were seven laps to go and not much I could do."
Despite losing for the first time since his DNF at last year's Korean GP, Vettel took his second place in stride, saying, "I don't see second as a disappointment...all in all, we are happy with second.
"First was not meant to be."
Certainly elated at Vettel's runner-up was teammate Mark Webber, who rebounded from an embarrassing Q1 session of 18th to place third, a comeback for the Australian racer.
Parlaying pit strategy with smart racing on the track, Webber had to feel like a winner despie his terrible qualfiying effort and a once again malfunctioning KERS boost system.
"It was an interesting GP," Webber said per an Autosport.com article. "We decided to start on the prime hard tyre. We know it was not the more desired tyre.
"We got that out of the way, and it was quite tricky. It was not easy to come back with those guys."
However, he noted how his team couldn't afford to lose more ground to Vettel and Hamilton.
"Shame McLaren won in a way, but also can't let Seb get too far," Webber said. "It was a good day for the racing, I think, and a good day for us in terms of points for the team.
"Congratulations to Lewis. It was good that somebody finally (beat Vettel)...of course, Seb is in the same team (as us), but he's been on a phenomenal run and we're all here together fighting for victories."
While the podium finishers revelled and relished their solid afternoons, McLaren's Jenson Button took home fourth while Mercedes' Nico Rosberg took home fifth.
Rosberg nearly pulled off a Cinderella-like victory at Shanghai, leading laps and keeping pace with the McLarens of Hamilton and Button as well as the Red Bull car of Vettel.
Ultimately, Rosberg's crew urged him to save fuel, costing him the race and a shot at the podium finish.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso took home sixth and seventh place, which was a bit disappointing for the usually fast racers who vie for victories, not top-ten finishes.
Their machines appeared to lack the speed and manuveribility of the Red Bull and McLaren cars, a somewhat shocking change of scenery in Formula One racing.
Michael Schumacher, seven-time F1 champion, placed eighth in his Petronas Mercedes while Renault's Vitaly Petrov and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi rounded out the top-10.
As a result of Hamilton's victory, here's a look at the top 10 drivers' standings prior to the May 8 running of the Turkish GP:
- Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull/2 wins, 68 points)
- Lewis Hamilton (McLaren/1 win, 47 points)
- Jenson Button (McLaren/38 points)
- Mark Webber (Red Bull/37 points)
- Fernando Alonso (Ferrari/26 points)
- Felipe Massa (Ferrari/24 points)
- Vitaly Petrov (Renault/17 points)
- Nick Heidfeld (Renault/15 points)
- Nico Rosberg (Mercedes/10 points)
- Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber/7 points)
Additionally, here's a look at the team standings after round three of 19 thus far in the 2011 season:
- Red Bull (105 points)
- McLaren (85 points)
- Ferrari (50 points)
- Renault (32 points)
- Mercedes (16 points)
- Sauber (7 points)
- TIE: Toro Rosso and Force India (4 points)
- TIE: Hispania, Lotus, Virgin, and Williams (0 points)
Following a two week hiatus, the Formula One teams and drivers will square off for round four at Istanbul for the Turkish GP.
Mark Webber is the defending pole sitter while Lewis Hamilton looks to duplicate his feat of a year ago as the defending race winner.
Sebastian Vettel hopes to avoid any skirmishes with teammate Webber like in last year's race, when his aggressive pass attempt knocked him out of the race while nearly relegating the Aussie out of the race.
Instead, Webber rebounded to place third, while Hamilton and Jenson Button brought home a 1-2 finish for McLaren.
SPEED and Star Sports will carry live coverage of all the practice and qualifying rounds, as well as the May 8 race. Check your local listings in your area to catch what is sure to be an exciting race during "The Month of Motorsports."