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.

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