Sunday, 14 April 2013

Chinese GP

After a tough day in qualifying for the main contenders, Lewis Hamilton came out on top with an amazing time. People thought that Hamilton was going to regret his move to Mercedes as their performance last year was nothing special however they have now proved that they have a fast car. But can it win races? He was followed by Raikkonen and Alonso  It was a terrible day for the two Red Bull drivers. Mark Webber ran out of fuel and couldn't give a 1 litre sample to the FIA so got disqualified. And Sebastian Vettle had an issue with his breaks so he starts 9th.

On Sunday April 14th 2013 it was the Chinese Grand Prix, the weather was good, the only pre-race drama was from the Force India garage where Di Resta's car had a fuel leak which got fixed almost instantly.
It was a 56 lap race and the track had 2 DRS zones so we expected a lot of taking over. The race started at 3PM local time which was 8AM GMT and the 200,000 seats around the Shanghai track were full.

Hamilton got off to a great start, he got away cleanly and made a gap between him and Alonso. The two Force India cars collided on lap 1, forcing Di Resta onto the grass. Also, at the end of lap 1, Webber, who started in the pit lane, returned to the pit lane and he pitted to change his tires. This worked in his favour as it meant he had clean air and fresh tires when he returned onto track.

Disaster struck for Hamilton because during the DRS zone at the start of lap 5 he was took over by both of the Ferrari cars;
Alonso on the outside, Massa on the inside.

On lap 6, Hamilton and Rosberg pitted. Luckily not at exactly the same time however Rosberg came out behind Webber which just shows how much of a difference those fresh tires made.
After a collision with Gutierrez, Sutil got a badly damaged back wing causing him to pit and then retire. A small fire broke out on the back breaks however it was quickly extinguished as Force India unsuccessfully tired to restore his car so it would be fit to race.

Many of the cars were clearly on different strategies as some cars pitted as early as lap 2 and other cars waited until lap 17.
Mark Webber having a terrible day

On lap 15 there was contact between Webber and Vergne as Webber tried an over aggressive take over. Webber attempted to take the inside line and Vergne simply didn't see him. Mark Webber was forced to pit for a new front wing, and tires however things got even worse for him as halfway through lap 16 his gearbox broke and he was stuck in 3rd gear.
When we though things couldn't get worse for Mark Webber, his rear right wheel came off and he was forced to retire.

Alonso was leading the race by 2.7 seconds over Button on lap 22 however they both pitted on lap 24 leaving the lead to Sebastian Vettel. Alonso came out in 4th and Button came out in 5th.

Unfortunately, Nico Rosberg needed to retire on lap 24 because he had an issue with his suspension  It was his 2nd retirement this season.

Lap 25 was when McLaren driver, Sergio Perez finally pitted. He had managed a staggering 25 laps without needing to pull into the pit lane whilst cars like Massa had already had 2 pit stops by lap 25!

Lewis Hamilton shooting past the Mercedes pit wall
On lap 29, Alonso took over Vettel for first position. This week Vettel listened to his team on the pit wall when they said to let it happen. Alonso set a fastest lap with a time of 1:40.973.

Over the next 10 laps, most drivers in the top 10 took a 2nd (and some even took a 3rd) pit stop apart from Button who had only taken 1. This was a risky strategy as his tires were losing grip rapidly however he was doing well in 3rd position. Alonso was leading the race followed by Vettel, Button, Raikkonen and Hamilton.

On lap 42 teams were informed that cars 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 17, 19 and 23 were all under investigation for using DRS whilst the yellow flag was waving. How could this many cars ignore the flag system? Was there something wrong with the flags? The cars were getting investigated after the race and all penalties will be issued for the Bahrain Grand Prix next week.

12 laps before the end of the race Hamilton, Raikkonen and Button swapped their driving gloves for boxing gloves as they fought for 3rd position.
Raikkonen took 3rd place from Button and then Hamilton took 4th place from Button too. Raikkonen and Hamilton were then contenders to be the race winner. There was less than 10 seconds between the top 4 cars.

6 laps before the end of the race Button pitted from 5th position and came out in 7th just ahead of Riccardo. He then had the next 6 laps to try and take over Massa with his fresh tires. He did this after only a few corners. Next he needed to take over Di Resta.

Sebastian Vettel pitted his Red Bull car on lap 52. He came out in 4th place and got told by his team that he was allowed to race the final 4 laps to the finish. Alonso was leading the race followed by Raikkonen and Hamilton.
It looked impossible that Vettel would be able to catch up with the race leaders however he set a fastest lap on lap 53 with an amazing time of 1:36.808. The fastest lap before that was over 1:39!
Hamilton who was coming 3rd was facing traffic and Vettel was catching him rapidly. As the gap started to get smaller, Vettel started to make mistakes and misjudge corners. In the final straight of the race, Vettle could use his DRS however it wasn't good enough. Hamilton finished 3rd.

Alonso won the Chinese Grand Prix after ruling the track for most of the race and setting many of the fastest lap times.
He was followed by Raikkonen who sneakily took 2nd position and of course, Hamilton in 3rd.

In the constructors championship this means that Red Bull is winning with 78 points followed by Ferrari and Lotus. Sebastian Vettel is winning the drivers championship with Raikkonen only 3 points behind him.