Hamilton leads 1, 2 for Mercedes in Chinese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton has now won the Chinese Grand Prix for a fourth time and while it wasn’t the dominant fashion in which he pummeled the field in Australia, it was a reversal of his Malaysian Grand Prix fortunes as he kept his teammate, Nico Rosberg, behind him as well as both Ferraris.

Lewis started the race with an intent to win by staging his car at a very aggressive angle at the starting grid and led into lap one never looking back. Hamilton led Rosberg and Vettel giving Mercedes a 1,2 win and serious points haul in China.

The question everyone was asking was if Ferrari could repeat their challenge in cooler temperatures in China and if they could, then the season just got more interesting and the fans would be spared a Mercedes domination with only the two teammates capable of challenging for wins.

Win

Win

Mercedes was concerned over Ferrari’s win in Malaysia and were determined to redouble their efforts to ensure a victory in China. Strategies were designed to manage tire degradation and stage a 1, 2 result. If there were concerns over Malaysia, what Mercedes discovered is that they still have pace in hand and can mange a race to victory without Ferrari offering a massive threat.

While Ferrari may not have had race-winning pace in China, what we did realize is that the lack of pace they showed in Australia was possibly a one-off situation. Ferrari is a competitor and closer to Mercedes than Red Bull were in 2014. Ferrari now knows that any bobble by Mercedes will be a chance to win, not just place. They may not be faster than Mercedes yet but they are there or thereabout and that’s a big gain from their 2014 campaign.

Another win for the race is Kimi Raikkonen who didn’t suffered a punctured tire or errant contact from another driver to place right on the tail of his teammate for a well deserved fourth place. Kimi’s radio messages about slower cars were a race highlight.

If you’re looking for feel-good stories, the 7th place finish for Lotus’s Romain Grosjean is a positive points scoring finish for a team that desperately needed it. His teammate had a race more akin to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride but Grosjean kept his head and foot down and came home in the points.

Sauber also had a win as both cars finished in the points and that’s huge for a team that was sued in Australia, lost millions in making a contract error go away and failed to score any points in 2014. The team has Ferrari to thank for their reversal of fortune and Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson to thank as drivers who are driving well.

For a team who has only had one car finish one race so far in 2015, McLaren have made significant gains getting Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button to 12th and 13th respectively—with Button falling to 14th due to a penalty. That’s a big win for development in Woking.

If you’re a Manor GP fan, then getting both cars home is a win.

Fail

Fail

Force India had a tough weekend and maybe that’s to be expected given they have a car that just wasn’t ready for prime time and a new B-spec isn’t due until Austria. You can also place Red Bull in that category with Daniil Kvyat’s fire and DNF.

Williams was beaten by Ferrari and while they were hoping the cooler temps and track would favor their car, it didn’t and the team finished 5th and 6th with Felipe Massa Leading the way. This is also a fail for Bottas because as much as he is being heralded as the next big thing, if he can’t beat Massa, he simply becomes a Williams driver like so many before him.

Daniel Ricciardo’s Balked start cost him ten spots at the start and rendered his race a race of recovery instead of a race of opportunity.

Toro Rosso had a terrific finish in the cards for Max Verstappen who suffered a failure on the front straight in the waning laps prompting a safety car which rendered the race as a finish under yellow flags.

WTH

We have to offer the Chinese Grand Prix security for letting a fan run across a hot track during FP2 on Friday as he wanted to try out a Ferrari…well, who wouldn’t?

Pastor Maldonado had a Pastorized weekend by over cooking the pit lane entry twice, once during the race, and also spinning a few times as well as being punted by Jenson Button.

Button was handed a penalty for the infraction and it seems he was a bit confused by Maldonado’s presence. It seemed to me that Maldonado moved twice to defend a line and Button moved while trying to brake and that usually never works well.

The Keystone Cop routine of trying to remove the stricken car of Max Verstappen on the front straight had the crowd more vocal than anytime during the race. The Chinese love a debacle apparently—well, who doesn’t? To be fair, it was a small opening and the car was at a tough angle. The front wing had to be removed to get it through the small opening on the pit wall.

PosDriverCarGap
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1h39m42.008s
2Nico RosbergMercedes0.714s
3Sebastian VettelFerrari2.988s
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari3.835s
5Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes8.544s
6Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes9.885s
7Romain GrosjeanLotus/Mercedes19.008s
8Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari22.625s
9Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault32.117s
10Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
11Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1 Lap
12Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda1 Lap
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda1 Lap
14Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault1 Lap
15Will StevensMarussia/Ferrari2 Laps
16Roberto MerhiMarussia/Ferrari2 Laps
17Max VerstappenToro Rosso/Renault4 Laps
Pastor MaldonadoLotus/MercedesRetirement
Daniil KvyatRed Bull/RenaultRetirement
Nico HulkenbergForce India/MercedesRetirement

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP:

PosDriverPoints
1Lewis Hamilton68
2Sebastian Vettel55
3Nico Rosberg51
4Felipe Massa30
5Kimi Raikkonen24
6Valtteri Bottas18
7Felipe Nasr14
8Daniel Ricciardo11
9Romain Grosjean6
10Nico Hulkenberg6
11Max Verstappen6
12Carlos Sainz6
13Marcus Ericsson5
14Daniil Kvyat2
15Sergio Perez1
16Jenson Button0
17Fernando Alonso0
18Roberto Merhi0
19Will Stevens0

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP:

PosConstructorPoints
1Mercedes119
2Ferrari79
3Williams/Mercedes48
4Sauber/Ferrari19
5Red Bull/Renault13
6Toro Rosso/Renault12
7Force India/Mercedes7
8Lotus/Mercedes6
9McLaren/Honda0
10Marussia/Ferrari0

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rob

last year rosberg had an edge in qualifying and a 25 point headstart after melborne and he got inside lewis ‘s head about monaco , nico was more or less level headed all year but he struggled to pass lewis in a race . , this year lewis has started where he left of in races and has upped his game in qually and now rosberg is becoming almost embarrisingly vocal about why he is not beating lewis , blaming his team mate in the race and even the team in china qually rosberg needs a mental reset , lewis… Read more »

Andreas

An interesting race weekend. Ted Kravitz noted in his quali notebook feature that the circuit and paddock security is very lax – getting into the paddock area was as easy as jumping a low fence. Finding the balance between security and inaccessibility is a delicate job, but it seems this circuit leaned too much to the lax side of things. As for the race, it wasn’t the most exciting one in recent time, but not completely dull. Kvyat’s spectacular engine failure reminded me of the early turbo days, when half the fun was waiting to see whose engine would go… Read more »

Dan Gough

Amused how Pastor Maldonado does not feature on the drivers title table. Wishful thinking!!?

My Friendly Atheist disqus acc

I’m still blaming Pastor. How slow do you have to be to let a McLaren rear end you?

228929292AABBB

On the subject of excitement, am I correct in my rough figuring that laps late in the race were running 8 seconds slower than the pole lap? 1:44 vs high 1:35s? If so, I think you have your answer about whether fragile tires add excitement.

jakobusvdl

Does anyone know what has happened to Williams? They seem to have lost pace compared to Mercedes.
In fact most of the customer Mercedes P.U teams seem to have dropped pace compared to Mercedes – have Mercedes made a big leap forward, or have the others failed to advance?

Negative Camber

Rob said it was tire deg and the car’s inability to get the best performance form the prime tire.

jakobusvdl

So this years chassis isn’t as effective as last years, or the tyre compounds are different?

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