Monday, April 18, 2011

Chinese GP Race Summary: Fortune shines on Hamilton

"Thank you, Pirelli", ex-F1 driver-turned-BBC-commentator, David Coulthard said at the end of the Chinese Grand Prix. Pirelli are the new tyre manufacturers for Formula 1 cars and they were tasked with creating a tyre compound that degraded faster than previous year's Bridgestones.
This has meant teams spending more time planning their race strategy and trying to avoid the misfortune that befell Hamilton in Malaysia, when he started in 2nd position but finished 8th after 4 pit-stops and being unhappy with his team's tyre choices for him.

Mark Webber had his gremlins during Qualifying on Saturday which meant he started the race in 18th position. Lewis Hamilton's arrived just before drivers made their way to the starting line. Scenes of 'organised panic' in the McLaren garage were difficult to watch as engineers ran around trying to mop out excess fuel from the MP4-26. With 35 seconds to go, Hamilton made it onto the starting grid (3rd position) and didn't have to start his race from the pit-lane.

The 56-lap Chinese Grand Prix race was fun of action, starting with a double overtake of Vettel, the Red Bull driver in pole position by 2 McLarens by the first corner. At lap 15, both Button and Vettel pitted but the McLaren driver drove into the Red Bull space before realising his mistake and moved onto his team's spot. This error cost him a place as Red Bull finished work on Vettel's car before Button was released.

The other Red Bull driver (Webber) climbed up from 18th position to finish 3rd, by being aggressive and making some great overtaking moves, the most crucial of which was on Button at the penultimate lap. Hamilton's race was also filled with superb overtaking moves throughout the race, including one on his team-mate in lap 36 to take 2nd place, on former team-mate Nico Rosberg on lap 42 for 3rd place, and Massa lap 45 to reclaim 2nd place and on Vettel on lap 52 to take pole position - which he clung onto till the end of the race.

Nico Rosberg was disappointed with his race even though he finished 5th; not because of his performance (he was riding 4th by the 2nd lap) but because he was asked to conserve fuel by his engineers in the closing stages of the race. Massa finished in 6th position ahead of this Ferrari team-mate Alonso again . Rookie Paul Di Resta who had scored points in his first 2 races, finished in 11th place - ahead of his team-mate but JUST out of points. Vitaly Petrov had another good race to score 2 points.

An emotional Hamilton later admitted that he was willing the car home and he was estatic to win a race since his last one in Belgium on August 29, 2010.

Hamilton's three-stop strategy vs. Vettel's 2-stopper was one of the main reasons why the McLaren driver was able to attack Vettel in the last few laps in China. The next F1 race is in 3 weeks at the Turkish GP: plenty of time for Red Bull to rethink their strategy and no doubt, McLaren will be fighting to build on the success of China.

Image from