Tag Archives: Chinese GP

Alonso bemoans slow Ferrari

Fernando failed to keep up with the McLarens and Red Bulls

Fernando failed to keep up with the McLarens and Red Bulls

Fernando Alonso has said that a 3-stop strategy would not have helped his challenge for a podium today.

Today’s Chinese Grand Prix saw a mix between 2 and 3-stop strategies, and Fernando finished down in 7th after a lacklustre performance. However, the Spaniard feels that the car simply isn’t fast enough, no matter what the strategy:

"It's very easy to choose the strategy when you have the fastest car and it's very 
hard when you are slow. Webber today showed qualifying is not very important.

The most important thing is to have a good tyre degradation and a good strategy, 
and this year we can overtake. As I say, the easiest thing is to have a quick car, 
like Red Bull, you pit three, two, one times and you end up on the podium.

We need to improve the car above everything. I don't think it would have changed 
much. We were much slower than the cars we had in front so we would ended up with 
a similar result."

Alonso also claimed that his race never had much potential:

"We just weren't fast at any point during the race and we kept on losing positions 
little by little.

Then we opted to go for two stops so it looked like we were in a good position 
during some points of the race and others where they were flying like bullets from 
behind. We had to try to hold on and finish the race in whatever position."

Fernando is currently 5th in the points standings, 42 points away from Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton snatches dramatic win in Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Chinese Grand prix, snatcing victory in the dying laps from Sebastian Vettel. Mark Webber was 3rd, after a heated dash through the field. Jenson Button was a potential winner, but a disastrous mistake at the pit stop left him 4th. Here is the full report:

Button leads from Hamilton, while Rosberg pressurises Vettel

Button leads from Hamilton, while Rosberg pressurises Vettel

At the start, Vettel got bogged down, while Button sailed into the lead. Lewis nearly hit the grass trying to get around the Red Bull, and overtook him at the first corner. Mark Webber only took one position from 18th on the first lap, while Kamui Kobayashi made a move on Jaime Alguersuari.

Mark got up to 15th within a few laps, but was quickly passed by Sergio Perez, as the Red Bull began to lose pace on the prime tyres. Jaime Alguersuari was the first to stop on Lap 10, but a badly fitted back right wheel caused it to fall off after a few corners, sening the Toro Rosso into retirement.

Webber and Schumacher, who had got up to 9th, stopped a lap after. Perez gained another place at the expense of Barrichello, while Rosberg stopped from 4th, who was holding up Massa and Alonso.

Button and Vettel stopped on Lap 13. However, Jenson made a howler of a mistake, when he tried to stop at the Red Bull pit box instead of the McLaren box. He never stopped, and got out of Sebastian’s way, but the damage was done, as he lost 2nd place.

Lewis stopped a lap after, and after being held up on track, lost the lead – but not to Vettel. Nico Rosberg’s early stop had paid dividends, and he was 5 seconds ahead of Vettel.

Webber was now up to 11th after his early stop, up against Kobayashi in 10th, who was suffering with nosecone damage. Di Resta and Sutil were 8th and 9th for Force India. Further up the pack, Alonso and Schumacher were battling for 6th place. After a few laps, Fernando muscled past the Mercedes. However, replays indicated that the Ferrari had used its DRS off the main straight.

Jenson stopped on lap 25, indicating that he was on a 3-stop strategy. Race leader Rosberg and Webber stopped one lap later. This left Sebastian back in the lead of the Grand Prix. Nico soon passed Alonso for 3rd.

The race leader soon suffered a setback, as his radio began to fail. His pace slowed slightly, as Alonso soon lost 4th place to Button. Vettel’s pace wasn’t good enough for his stint, so he stopped on lap 33 for a set of hard tyres, which left Felipe Massa in charge of the Grand Prix. He pitted 2 laps later, leaving Rosberg back at the top.

Hamilton and Button dice it out

Hamilton and Button dice it out

The McLarens were second and third, and hearts must mave skipped a beat on the pit wall when Hamilton dived down the inside of Button to snatch 2nd place. It was close, but both drivers gave each other room.

With his race compromised, Button stopped for the final time, taking on hard tyres, while Hamilton matched him a lap later, and he exited the pit lane in front of his teammate. Further back, Webber shoved his way past Michael Schumacher for 6th place.

In between all of the action, the stewards announced a drive-through penalty for Sergio Perez. The Mexican driver ran wide at turn 1 and slammed into Adrian Sutil, causing front wing damage to the Force India.

Nico was promising for a podium position, but a problem was apparent when it was revealed that he was running low on fuel. Backing off forced him to concede 3rd place to Hamilton. Lewis wasn’t happy with that, though, and soon pushed Massa aside for 2nd place. With only 10 laps to go, it looked as if the McLaren could challenge for the win.

Within a few laps, Lewis had completely eroded Vettel’s lead, and a fantastic battle for the lead emerged. Dives down the inside at turn 14 were fruitless, so Hamilton caught everyone out by taking Vettel halfway throught the lap.

Webber keeps Button at bay

Webber keeps Button at bay

With the lead settled, focus soon switched to Mark Webber, who had made a stunning comeback away from the cameras, and was now 4th. With Button concentrating on Vettel ahead, scintillating pace from Mark, as well as a wheel-to-wheel battle, put him in a podium spot, a massive achievement considering his 18th placed grid spot and poor tyre choice.

Jenson tried to dive back, and clashed wheels, but Mark held his ground for 3rd place. Lewis Hamilton took the race win by 5 seconds, to Vettel and Webber. Button was 4th, ahead of Rosberg and Massa. Alonso and Schumacher battled to the flag, while Petrov and Kobayashi got points finishes. Paul di Resta and Nick Heidfeld battled for 11th all the way to the flag, and clashed with 2 corners to go, which will be investigated after the race.

Hamilton wins, 5 seconds ahead of Vettel

Hamilton wins, 5 seconds ahead of Vettel

It was a fantastic race, action-packed from the very beginning, with a mix between raw pace and strategy. Ultimately, stopping 7 laps earlier was a mistake for Sebastian, and Lewis made many excellent passing moves across the day. Also, we cannot forget Mark’s stunning ascension through the field while under pressure.

Vettel unchallenged to China pole position

Sebastian Vettel took his 3rd pole position of the year for the Chinese Grand Prix. Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were 2nd and 3rd, while Mark Webber was knocked out of Q1. Here is the full report:

Q1

Webber lost out and will start 18th

Webber lost out and will start 18th

A quiet start to Q1 was marked by only Sergio Perez setting a lap, a 1.38.295, and soon improving to a 1.37.585. A huge lock-up hindered Paul di Resta, while Jenson Button soon went fastest.

Vettel soon overturned the McLaren’s first place, but Webber languished in 7th. Kobayashi was the last driver to set his first time, going 5th only 4 tenths off Sebastian.

Nick Heidfeld made a mistake at Turn 14, but still got within 2 tenths of the Red Bull.

The Ferraris soon took 1st and 2nd, albeit on soft tyres. Vitaly Petrov, initially struggling in 18th, went 1 hundreth faster than Alonso to go fastest, but was swiftly overturned by Rosberg.

Mark Webber decided to stay out on the harder tyres, a decision which completely backfired. Pastor Maldonado went 15th, and shoved the Red Bull into 18th, and out of Q1.

HRT failed to beat the Virgin cars in qualifying, but still got within the 107% rule.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Mark Webber

19) Heikki Kovalainen

20) Jarno Trulli

21) Jerome D’Ambrosio

22) Timo Glock

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi

24) Narain Karthikeyan

Q2

The cars line up for the last 2 minutes of Q2

The cars line up for the last 2 minutes of Q2

Jaime Alguersuari started Q2 significantly faster than his teammate Buemi. Jenson Button set a 1.34.662, which was sure to raise eyebrows at Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton went quicker by 2 tenths, while Vettel was in the 1.34.7 range.

Nico Rosberg went 10th on the hard tyres, and soon switched to the softs after lacking pace. Buemi went 5th, splitting the Ferraris. Vitaly Petrov jumped to 4th on his first run.

The Renault soon slowed after a gearbox problem, and the red flag came out as his car was recovered. As there were only 2 minutes to go, a huge amount of cars had to queue up at the end of the pitlane at the restart.

A huge train of cars crossed the line with less than 30 seconds to go. Paul di Resta was incredibly lucky to cross the line with only one second to go.

Masa went 5th with Rosberg 9th. Schumacher was 13th, and Heidfeld 16th, with both drivers knocked out of Q2. Di Resta didn’t end up setting a lap, but stayed in 10th position.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Adrian Sutil

12) Sergio Perez

13) Kamui Kobayashi

14) Michael Schumacher

15) Rubens Barrichello

16) Nick Heidfeld

17) Pastor Maldonado

Q3

Vettel was 7 tenths clear of Hamilton and Button

Vettel was 7 tenths clear of Hamilton and Button

Vitaly Petrov failed to show in Q3 after his car troubles in Q2. Sebastian Vettel easily beat Jenson Button by 7 tenths of a second, setting a 1.33.706. These were the only 2 drivers going for 2 runs, as the others stayed in the pits at the beginning of the session.

The two Toro Rossos failed to match the frontrunners’ pace, going 2.3 and 2.4 seconds off the pace. Lewis Hamilton deciced to conserve one of his soft tyre sets for race day, as the drivers went out on their final run.

Alonso was well off the pace of Vettel, more than a second off the Red Bull. Nico Rosberg went 3rd, while Hamilton made several mistakes en route to 3rd.

With his fastest time unchallenged, Vettel called off his final run, as did 2nd placed Button. Lewis was disappointed not to challenge for pole, although Rosberg was surely pleased with 4th position.

While it’s another pole for Vettel, the McLarens are poised to capitalise on any mistake tomorrow.

Vettel stays on top in China second practice

Vettel stayed on top in second practice

Vettel stayed on top in second practice

Sebastian Vettel retained his lead in second practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.

He was one tenth of a second faster than Lewis Hamilton, who led his teammate Jenson Button in the McLaren.

The Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Schumacher were 4th and 5th. Felipe Massa was 6th, while a hydraulic issue limited Fernando Alonso to 14th place.

Mark Webber was 1.6 seconds slower than Sebastian in 10th, while both Renaults were in the top 10, with Nick Heidfeld 8th and Vitaly Petrov 9th.

For the second session in a row, the Virgin cars were beaten by HRT, with both Karthikeyan and Liuzzi comfortably ahead of D’Ambrosio and Glock. Only Timo was outside the 107% rule, by 0.2 seconds.

Paul di Resta failed to set a lap, after a fuel pressure problem.

Times from China FP2:


 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1.37.688             34
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1.37.854  	0.166  22
 3.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1.37.935  	0.247  31
 4.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1.37.943  	0.255  34
 5.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1.38.105  	0.417  29
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1.38.507  	0.819  36
 7.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1.38.735  	1.047  35
 8.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                1.38.805  	1.117  26
 9.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1.38.859 	1.171  31
10.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1.39.327 	1.639  33
11.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1.39.538 	1.850  33
12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1.39.667  	1.979  37
13.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.39.771  	2.083  18
14.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1.39.779  	2.091  17
15.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.39.828  	2.140  25
16.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1.39.925  	2.237  32
17.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1.39.953  	2.265  30
18.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1.40.476  	2.788  30
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1.41.482  	3.794  32
20.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1.42.902  	5.214  25
21.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           1.43.850  	6.162   3
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1.44.008  	6.320  35
23.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1.44.747  	7.059  12
24.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   N/A                   0

Red Bull miles ahead in China FP1

Vettel was well ahead of his rivals

Vettel was well ahead of his rivals

Sebastian Vettel headed Mark Webber in Friday Practice 1 for the Chinese Grand Prix, with Vettel 2 seconds faster than any other competitor after Webber.

The McLarens of Hamilton and Button were 3rd and 4th, although Jenson was delayed by a KERS issue. Nick Heidfeld was 5th after setting only 5 laps, but crashed with half an hour to go.

Felipe Massa was 6th while teammate Alonso was 12th, with Ferrari running more tests on their faltering aerodynamic package. Sebastien Buemi finished 10th, while Daniel Ricciardo took over Jaime Alguersuari’s car and was placed 16th.

Vitantonio Liuzzi managed to split the Virgins in 21st position. Luiz Razia drove Jarno Trulli’s car, but was 5.8 seconds off the pace, 3 seconds slower than Heikki Kovalainen in 14th.

Narain Karthikeyan was last, but he half a second within the 107% rule for qualifying.

Note: Pirelli have run out of gold bands to put on the softer tyres, so silver bands are also being used on the softer compound.

Heidfeld quickly accepted the blame for his crash:

"It was a driving mistake. I went off twice and that can happen - I just went over 
the limit.

I was in a very good mood until I crashed into the tyre. I have been around for a 
while but I cannot remember crashing twice in one day, so that was not a good start.

It was just my mistake. These things unfortunately can happen, I think a lot of other 
people also went off a bit and had spins. Unfortunately I destroyed two wings, it  
shows it isn't easy today but it is not meant to be an excuse. I just f***** up!"

Times from China FP1:


 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1.38.739	      23
 2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1.39.354    0.615   27
 3.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1.40.845    2.106   21
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1.40.940    2.201   22
 5.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault                1.40.987    2.248   5
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1.41.046    2.307   25
 7.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1.41.189    2.450   20
 8.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1.41.222    2.483   20
 9.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1.41.231    2.492   16
10.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.41.328    2.589   21
11.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1.41.361    2.622   23
12.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1.41.434    2.695   15
13.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1.41.494    2.755   20
14.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1.41.579    2.840   13
15.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1.41.610    2.871   18
16.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.41.752    3.013   20
17.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1.41.939    3.200   25
18.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1.42.301    3.562   23
19.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1.43.792    5.053   20
20.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1.44.089    5.350   20
21.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           1.44.359    5.620   18
22.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1.44.438    5.699   11
23.  Luiz Razia            Lotus-Renault          1.44.542    5.803    9
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1.45.019    6.280   23

DRS zone is 900 metres for China

Availability of the DRS system in China

Availability of the DRS system in China

The FIA have announced that drivers will only be able to use the Drag Reduction System on the back straight for the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend.

Being the longest straight of the year at 1170 metres though, they have also taken measures to restrain the system. Therefore, the zone for enabling the DRS system is 902 metres.

The rear wing device can now be activated several hundred metres after the long Turn 13. The detection zone – whether a car is within 1 second of the car ahead – is at the very start of the long right hander, Turn 12.

As usual, the DRS is free to use in practice and qualifying. However, it will be deactivated at any point during the weekend if the car using it is on intermediate or extreme wet tyres.

Chinese Grand Prix in doubt?

The Chinese GP could be in doubt for next year

The Chinese GP could be in doubt for next year

The Chinese Grand Prix has been placed in doubt recently, over the FIA delaying the addition of the circuit to the 2011 calendar, and the track’s contract not yet extended by Bernie Ecclestone.

The FIA’s 2011 race calendar was updated today, with 2 changes. Both of these changes related to two circuits being “subject to homologation”. The first is the Indian GP, which is obvious, seeing as that track is still under construction. The second, however, is the Shanghai International Circuit – even though no changes are being made to the circuit.

The reason the FIA are delaying the conformation of the circuit is because their contract runs out with Bernie Ecclestone this year, and has not yet been extended. Rumour has it that Bernie wants $30m per year on the new contract. To make matters worse, this circuit has not been running profitably, with low ticket sales (many tickets are given away free), and a lack of interest by the Chinese government in investing there.

It looks like we will have to wait and see what happens to the future of the Chinese Grand Prix. Would you miss it if it went? I’m not sure I would…

McLaren’s Friday Practice pace is genuine

Normally, it would be impossible for us to find out what fuel weights drivers are running during Friday Practice. However, a well-placed photograph has shown us that both McLaren drivers were running 140kgs of fuel in Friday Practice in China.

140kg is around the amount of fuel used for an entire race distance. We can therefore conclude that McLaren were running race simulations in practice. Not only this, but the fact that Hamilton and Button led both Friday Practice sessions shows the MP4-25 has serious pace this year.

If you have a look at the photo above, there are two sentences at the top. Each one refers to telemetry when running used or new prime tyres. However, to the right of these, you can notice 140kg as the amount of fuel in both runs, although you’ll need good eyesight to see it.

From this, Red Bull should be worried. If McLaren can win practice sessions with a race fuel load on board, then they should be the biggest contender to them this year.

Chinese Grand Prix analysis

After the statistics and photo slideshow, here is my analysis of the Chinese GP.

Straight line speeds

Driver Speed (kph)
1 Lewis Hamilton 318
2 Rubens Barrichello 313.2
3 Sebastian Vettel 310.9
4 Felipe Massa 310.3
5 Jaime Alguersuari 308.9
6 Fernando Alonso 307
7 Mark Webber 306.9
8 Karun Chandhok 306.6
9 Bruno Senna 306.2
10 Michael Schumacher 305.5
11 Adrian Sutil 305.4
12 Nico Hulkenberg 304.3
13 Vitaly Petrov 303.4
14 Jenson Button 303.3
15 Robert Kubica 300.9
16 Nico Rosberg 299.5
17 Heikki Kovalainen 298.5
18 Jarno Trulli 294.1
19 Lucas di Grassi 293.6
20 Pedro de la Rosa 287

The first obvious thing to note is that Lewis Hamilton is leading this list, while Jenson Button is a whole 15km/h behind. Clearly, Jenson had more of a grip-based setup than Lewis, which would explain his lack of speed. This would also explain why his last set of tyres desintigrated in the final few laps, when he usually has perfect tyre managment as his top skill.

It was interesting enough to see the Force India of Adrian Sutil be beaten by both of the HRT cars. Also, drivers like Barrichello, Vettel, Massa and Alguersuri were the fastest apart from Hamilton. These were some of the drivers who opted to use a dry weather setup for the race. This backfired for them all, mostly Alguersuari, who we saw sliding back down the field later in the race, and miss out on possible points.

The fact that Pedro de la Rosa was miles slower than anyone else can probably be attributed to the engine failure that took him out of the race soon after the start.

Button vs Hamilton

Button vs Hamilton in Shanghai

Button vs Hamilton in Shanghai

Yes, I know I do this chart far too much, but it really is too interesting to miss. Note that the two massive increases in lap times were caused by the safety car and their second pit stops respectively.

Again, this chart shows why Lewis Hamilton has the advantage of more raw speed than Button. The question is, why is Jenson beating Lewis? This is mainly because of Button’s superior strategy decicions and tyre managment. While Hamilton opted for intermidiate tyres on Lap 2, Button stayed out, and Lewis was forced to pit again on Lap 5 for dries.

Because of this, Lewis had a 40 second deficit to Button within a few laps. However, the second safety car completely ruined Button’s advantage, and gave Lewis a chance to fight back. While he did, he was unable to catch up to and overtake Button in time. So, from this, we can learn that while Lewis was faster for most of the race, he failed to be faster when it mattered most – at the end. This goes back to Button’s excellent tyre managment.

For most of Laps 45-50, Lewis was unable to catch up, as he was stuck behind Rosberg, and then his tyres desintigrated. While Button’s were completely gone as well, he was able to maintain a lead, despite a mistake on Lap 51, and win the race.

Since then, Hamilton has conceded that he may have to take “the easier route” as he calls it, and make the right decicions at the right time, rather than hard racing.

Fastest lap per driver

Driver Team Time Set on Lap #
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.42.061 13
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1.42.358 14
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.42.609 14
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1.42.886 14
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1.43.245 14
6 Robert Kubica Renault 1.43.630 14
7 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.43.755 14
8 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1.43.801 14
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.44.134 14
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1.44.298 14
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1.44.364 14
12 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1.44.549 13
13 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.44.594 14
14 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1.45.559 17
15 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1.47.141 14
16 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1.47.739 6
17 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1.48.216 16
18 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1.48.788 15
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1.49.675 14
20 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1.53.185 7

Again, this shows how Lewis has more raw pace than Jenson. Otherwise, we can see how the Red Bulls did have good pace this weekend, but their disastrous first pit stop for intermidiate tyres, when one of the wheel guns failed on Mark Webber, ruined their races.

Also, this chart proves how Pedro de la Rosa was in serious trouble from the start, as his best lap, set on Lap 7 when the track had dried out, was 11 seconds slower than Hamilton’s.

Chinese Grand Prix in pictures

As I have already done the stats and facts, here are some photos of the Chinese GP. Analysis of the race should be up by tonight or possibly tomorrow, and a personal review in 2 days time.

I’m trying out a new feature, a slideshow of photos rather than uploading separate ones. It was incredibly hard to get working, but I blame WordPress. Anyways, leave a comment if you like it, thanks :)

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