Button leads McLaren 1-2 in rainy China

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on the Chinese GP podium

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on the Chinese GP podium

Jenson Button led a McLaren 1-2 finish in Shanghai today, his second win of the season so far. Lewis Hamilton was second, followed by Nico Rosberg.

Even before the start, there were surprises. Before the formation lap, the Virgin crew didn’t decide in time whether to put dry or intermidiate tyres on, and he was pushed to the pit lane, but he didn’t start the race. His team-mate, Lucas di Grassi, started from the pit lane, but only lasted one lap. So, it was a completely disastrous race for the Virgin team.

Fernando Alonso jumps the start at the first corner

Fernando Alonso jumps the start at the first corner

The start was chaotic, as rain began to fall on the first lap. Fernando Alonso jumped into first place by the first corner, but replays showed that he jump-started, and he was given a drive-through penalty later on. At Turn 3, Adrian Sutil lost control, and slammed into Sebastien Buemi and Kamui Kobayashi. Rubens Barrichello nearly lost control as he tried to avoid the incident, ran wide, and lost many positions. This brought out the safety car, but the action wasn’t over yet.

Vitantonio Liuzzi crashes into Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi at the start

Vitantonio Liuzzi crashes into Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi at the start

By the end of the first lap, the decicion had been made by the Red Bulls, Ferraris, Hanilton and Schumacher to switch to intermidiate tyres. At the Red Bull pit stops, faulty air guns ruined both Vettel’s and Webber’s stops, and left them with lots of work to do. This left Nico Rosberg leading the race, ahead of Jenson Button, Robert Kubica and Pedro de la Rosa, until his Ferrari broke yet again. All of these drivers had made the choice to stay on slick tyres in the difficult conditions, a move which paid off quickly.

Lewis Hamilton waited until Lap 3 to change to wets, which put him at a disadvantage. But, by Lap 6, the track was drring out, and the intermidiates were ripping themselves apart. On Lap 5, still under the safety car, Michael Schumacher made the call to switch back to dry tyres. This move was copied by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton the lap after. However, an incident in the pit lane raised many eyebrows. Hamilton appeared to be released into the path of Vettel, which resulted in both of them travelling side by side down the pit lane. Vettel then appeared to push Lewis to the side, an extremely dangerous move. After the race, the stewards gave both drivers a reprimand and a warning.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel battle in the pit lane

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel battle in the pit lane

The safety car peeled away on Lap 6, and the racing commenced. It became quickly obvious that dry tyres were the way to go, so the final drivers on intermidiates had to change. On Lap 12, Hamilton got his revenge on Vettel by passing both Red Bulls in on move. The two of them began to fight their way back up the order, but the weather soon stopped them. The rain began to pour down again on Lap 19, triggering  a mad dash for intermidiate tyres again. This prompted a spin by Nico Rosberg, which handed the lead to Jenson Button, just before the duo pitted.

By Lap 21, everyone had switched to intermidiate tyres, and it seemed as if the race might calm down a bit. It didn’t. Jaime Alguersuari had gone off, damaged his front wing, swhich threw debris all over the track and the pit lane. The safety car was called out for the second time. This was a huge worry for Jenson Button and the frontrunners who hadn’t pitted at the start, who saw their massive advantage reduced to nothing, while Hamilton’s 40 second deficit was cut to nothing.

By Lap 25, the safety car was on it’s final lap before pitting, and more drama ensued. Jenson Button bunched up the pack far too much at the final two corners, meaning drivers had to swerve off the track (not at high speeds, mind you) to avoid other drivers. Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel all came very close at the final corner, and Webber came out unluckiest, being forced to run wide, and lose several positions in the process.

Within a few laps, the order was as follows: Button was leading, followed by Rosberg a second behind, while Kubica was being chased by Hamilton for third. The Renault drivers were both doing very well, with Kubica in third and Petrov getting as high as 7th in the race. Hamilton got past Kubica on Lap 29, and was soon pressurising Rosberg for second.

On Lap 34, he attempted a move on Rosberg that he had done on Schumacher earlier. But, the German fought back well, and kept his position. This meant that Button was able to extend his lead from these two to about 6 seconds. Hamilton pitted for a fresh set of intermidiates on Lap 37, which was also done by Button, Rosberg and Alonso a lap later. Nico’s one lap later stop meant Lewis was able to pass him, and set his sights on Jenson. To begin with, Button extended his lead to 9.9 seconds, but a major mistake at the hairpin on Lap 51 reduced this lead to 1.5 seconds with 5 laps to go.

Despite this, he hung on until the end to take his second victory of the season in only 4 races. Hamilton stuck to the back of his gearbox until the end, but was unable to make a move. Nico Rosberg had another very good race to get a second third place finish this year. Behind the top three, Fernando Alonso recovered very well to take fourth place, ahead of Kubica and Vettel. In seventh, Vitaly Petrov drove a great race to take his (and Russia’s) first ever points in Formula 1. While Michael Schumacher’s good tyre choice had got him ahead of Petrov, Vitaly soon reeled him in at the end to take seventh back off him. Mark Webber never really recovered from his disastrous pit stop, and finished 8th. Felipe Massa passed Schumacher as well near the end, so the two of them finished 9th and 10th respectively.

Button celebrates his second win of 2010 in China

Button celebrates his second win of 2010 in China

From 11th to 17th positions, it was: Adrian Sutil, Rubens Barrichello, Jaime Alguersuari, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Hulkenberg, Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok. Kovalainen’s finish was interesting, as he was the first ever of the new teams to finish ahead of an established team, in this case Nico Hulkenberg of Williams. However, it may have helped that Nico had 6 stops and Heikki had 2!

Overall, it was a fantastic race, with the weather again shaking things up. However, I had my own troubles watching the race, as I slept too late to watch the live race, and then was forced to wait for hours for a replay! But it was well worth it, with all the action, as shown by the size of this blog post.

In the driver standings, Button now leads the championhip with 60 points, 10 ahead of Nico Rosberg, who is 1 ahead of Alonso and Hamilton. You can view the updated standings here.

Hers is the full result:

Driver Team Gap # of laps
1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 56
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.53 56
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 9.484 56
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 11.869 56
5 Robert Kubica Renault 22.213 56
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 33.31 56
7 Vitaly Petrov Renault 47.6 56
8 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 52.172 56
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 57.796 56
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 61.749 56
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 62.874 56
12 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 63.665 56
13 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 71.416 56
14 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1 Lap 55
15 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1 Lap 55
16 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 2 Laps 54
17 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 4 Laps 52
Not Classified
18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 30 Laps 26
19 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 48 Laps 8
20 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 49 Laps 7
21 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 56 Laps 0
22 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 56 Laps 0
23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 56 Laps 0
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 56 Laps 0
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2 responses to “Button leads McLaren 1-2 in rainy China

  1. pickle92 April 18, 2010 at 21:02

    MCLAREN 1-2! YESSSS! :-D
    F1 again proves that the sport isn’t dull or boring and that overtaking is still very much alive and well. Hamilton and Vettel were both silly little boys but at least the punishment was fair.
    BTW: You’ve said that Sutil crashed on lap one and not Liuzzi, and there are some spelling mistakes.
    Do you think the ash over Europe will clear soon so the paddock can get home in time for Barcelona?

    • ciaranmor April 18, 2010 at 21:12

      Corrected the mistakes, thanks :)
      As for the ash, I would be slightly worried. Twitterers in the paddock are saying that nobody is certain as to how the teams will get their equipment to Catalunya in time. The only good thing is that they have 2 weeks or so to get to Spain, which gives the ash time to move. Otherwise, they might have to all use a very odd route to the circuit. I’ll post something about this in a day or so.

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