Cruel sport in China – CHINA 2011

Formula 1 can be a cruel sport, which when all is said and done is part of its attraction: why would you turn up to watch something where everything is a foregone conclusion? With both our cars starting in the top ten, one might have expected some points at the end of the 56 laps, but it was not to be. Even if things had gone smoothly, when you consider that our Saturday afternoon performance did benefit from Webber’s bad luck and Petrov’s red flag, maintaining our start positions was always going to be difficult. However, on the day, both drivers had less than perfect starts, Jaime Alguersuari had to retire because of a lost wheel and Sébastien Buemi’s race was compromised when he had to make an additional unplanned visit to pit lane when it was discovered he had front wing damage.

Cruel sport in China – CHINA 2011

 

Our Spanish driver lost two places at the start, the Swiss one dropped four and one lap later, Jaime was passed by Sutil and then Kobayashi. Lacking grip at the rear, he came in on lap 9 for new rubber and that was pretty much the end of his race, as the wheel nut on the right rear had not gone on far enough for the safety clip to hold it and with one wheel missing, his race engineer told him to park the car somewhere safe. Race over. When Buemi came in on lap 12, the team spotted there was some front wing damage, but by then Sébastien was back out on track, so when the fault began badly affecting his pace, he was called back in on lap 16 for an additional stop to change the nose. From then on he battled away as best he could, dropping to the back of the field and gradually moving up the order. On lap 33 he made his final stop and on fresh rubber he continued battling, to end up right on the tail of Barrichello in the Williams, but the race was just a lap or two too short for him to move up any further than fourteenth.

Something very unusual happened at the front of the pack today….Sebastian Vettel did not win the Grand Prix, finishing “only” second to an ecstatic Lewis Hamilton. When it comes to the drive of the day, there is no doubt that the McLaren man delivered a trademark aggressive performance, but one driver went from eighteenth on the grid all the way to the podium in third place. Well done to Red Bull’s Mark Webber for an astonishing performance, even if his car is the class of the field right now. The McLaren victory was initiated right from the start when Button and Hamilton got the better of pole man Vettel. In the end, it was tyres that played the most significant role, as Hamilton stopped three times for fresh tyres, while Vettel only made two visits to the pit lane. Button and Rosberg also led for much of the race, which without a doubt was the most exciting and enthralling of the three we have seen so far. Rosberg and the McLarens were right on the money with their three stop, while Vettel and Massa, who was the best Ferrari today, were on two, which seemed to be the best choice for a while, at least until Hamilton started hunting down those ahead of him, eventually sweeping Vettel aside on lap 52 of the 56.

Behind the podium trio came Button, then Rosberg, whose early charge faded, followed by Massa in sixth ahead of team-mate Alonso who got bogged down in traffic after pit stops. Eighth was Schumacher, followed by Petrov with Kobayashi in the final points position.
In the championship, we have slipped a further place, because Mercedes’ 14-point haul today puts them fifth, while we are on four points in seventh spot, three behind Sauber. There’s now three weeks before we do it again in Turkey. We could say that gives us time to keep on improving our car, but what do you think the other teams will be doing?