16 Apr


THE CHINESE Grand Prix this year was won by the driver who could best manage the tyre degradation, make the best pit stops and pick the right tyre compounds to achieve maximum potential, and today, Fernando Alonso drove brilliantly, overtook carefully and took great care of his tyres to fend off the competition and win Ferrari’s first victory since Germany last year.

Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel were the two big name drivers who began the race on the harder compound tyres, deciding to wait until the very last moment to switch to the softer, and less durable, tyres and one could argue that on the whole, this strategy delivered reward. Vettel chased down Lewis Hamilton to the very last second in the closing stages of the race, and was only denied a podium finish by two tenths of a second; Jenson Button also fought off Felipe Massa to finish fifth with ten points; Vettel received twelve points and finished fourth.

However, although both Button and Vettel both improved upon their qualifying positions, the vast majority of drivers today began on softer tyres, and changed to the harder tyres to finish off the race on much more durable tyres- Kimi Raikkönen collided into the back of Sergio Perez, damaging part of his front wing, but somehow managed to survive and remained competitive until the end, finishing in second place with eighteen points. Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes may have been quick in qualifying, but it didn’t quite have the pace to fend off Alonso or Raikkönen. Nevertheless, it shows that Mercedes is capable of challenging for the podium and possibly even a race victory this year. China has always granted rewards for Ross Brawn’s team, and this trend continued for Lewis, but not for team-mate Nico Rosberg, who was forced to retire with a suspension failure.

Other race casualties in the Chinese Grand Prix today were Mark Webber, Adrian Sutil and Esteban Guttierez. Mark Webber was unfortunate in that he regained places after starting from the pit lane, but he was involved in a collision with Jean Eric- Vergne, and damaged his front wing. After limping back to the pits, Red Bull decided to change his tyres as well as the front wing, but one of his tyres wasn’t affixed properly in the rush to get him back out onto the cricuit, and he ended up retiring, with the tyre rolling onto the track, nearly hitting Sebastian Vettel in the process! Next, Sauber’s Esteban Guttierez was travelling too fast, missed the ideal braking point, and crashed into the back of Adrian  from Force India, and both cars were forced to retire from the race.

Felipe Massa finished in a comfortable sixth place, earning eight points, and Daniel Ricciardo achieved his best ever finish, seventh place, for Toro Rosso, building on a spectacular qualifying session yesterday. Six points is a great achievement for the Australian, considering that he only received ten points in twenty races last year, and he will be hoping to build on his success in Bahrain next week.

Paul Di Resta finished in eighth and received four points, which is something that he will be pleased with after nearly being pushed off the track by his team-mate in the opening stages of the race. Romain Grosjean continues his ‘average’ performance of late, finishing ninth and getting two points and Nico Hulkenberg, who led at one point, finished tenth for Sauber. Unfortunately, they gauged the tyres wrong for him, since he switched from hard to soft to hard again, and that middle stint cost the German dearly, compared with Button and Vettel who switched from hard to hard to soft.

Sergio Perez under performed again today, scoring nothing by finishing eleventh for McLaren, and Williams finished thirteenth and fourteenth, and are still yet to score points, with three races now completed. Jules Bianchi once again won the battle of the back markers, finishing fifteenth ahead of Charles Pic, team- mate Max Chilton and Giedo Van Der Garde.

Fernando Alonso will be pleased with his driving today, and Ferrari certainly proved that they chose the best strategy in terms of tyres, and will be chasing down the Red Bulls in the coming week as the Championship battles tighten rapidly in this early stage in the season. Mark Webber will be wallowing in pity this evening, whilst McLaren, or at least Jenson Button, can feel somewhat relieved after managing to score a satisfactory position, and are glimmers of hope beginning to shine through? Martin Whitmarsh will hope so, but work still has to be done.


Before the European leg of the Formula One season gets underway in one race time, the leaders in the first fly- away leg in the Drivers’ Championships are engaged in a true scrap to the top. Sebastian Vettel leads with 52 points, followed closely by Kimi Raikkönen with 49 points. Mark Webber has been usurped from third place by Fernando Alonso with 43 points, Lewis Hamilton with 40 points and Felipe Massa with 30 points. The Australian now lies in sixth place, after receiving nothing from China, and just showing how one mistake can cost drivers significantly. Thankfully with sixteen races to go, there will still be all to play for. In seventh place, we see Nico Rosberg with 12 points, and Jenson Button in eighth, who also has 12 points. Romain Grosjean has 11 points in ninth, and in tenth, Paul Di Resta with 8 points.

In eleventh place, Daniel Ricciardo has six points, as too does Adrian Sutil in twelfth. In thirteenth, Nico Hulkenberg with 5 points and McLaren’s Sergio Perez resides in a lowly fourteenth place with just 2 points. A solitary point is held by Jean Eric- Vergne in fifteenth.

In the Constructors’ Championships, Red Bull still lead with 78 points, but only five points ahead of Ferrari, who are second with 73 points. Lotus have continued their point scoring to great success, as they are third with 60 points. Mercedes are fourth, and they have 52 points. McLaren have recovered, and are now fifth with 14 points. Force India’s poorer finishing positions mean that they are sixth, despite also having 14 points. Daniel Ricciardo’s race has meant that Toro Rosso are seventh with 7 points, and Sauber are eighth with 5 points. Williams lead Marussia who lead Caterham, but none of them have scored any points thus far.

I will be back next week as Formula One heads to the desert in Bahrain- with (hopefully) no political upheaval due to overshadow the action, we look forward to the front- runners battle it out to see who will take the next chequers flag. The desert normally means high temperatures and an endurance test for the drivers, and it should hopefully be as interesting, if not more so, than today’s rubber dominated race in China.



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