Race Report: Hamilton wins 5th Chinese GP

Photo by: www.Kymillman.com/F1

The 2017 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix was always under threat of rain and while the helicopter rule from free practice was sorted, meaning the race would happen regardless of sm(f)og, the rain was still an issue as weather forecasts were gloomy.

Rain has a tendency to separate drivers from great drivers and many on the grid were hoping for rain. With a half hour to go before the lights went out, the rain had subsided and presented the drivers with what we call changeable conditions…not something the drivers actually like a lot—unless you’re Jenson Button. The big question? How will the new Pirelli wet weather tires perform? A real delta to the entire weekend as the 10 minutes of exploration laps prior to the grid up period was the first look they had at the tires. The general consensus was that it was a close choice between slicks and intermediate rain tires at the start.

If Ferrari wanted to dispel the one-off oddity of Australia, they did so with a qualifying effort under two tenths of a second off pole position. If the 1.5s advantage Mercedes has enjoyed since 2014 has eroded, then China was going to take everything they had to get on pole and that’s exactly what Lewis Hamilton delivered to secure his 6th pole position at this circuit.

Lewis Hamilton won the race and celebrates his 54 win and 106th podium. Mercedes, perhaps like Ferrari in Australia, benefitted from Vettel’s early pit under the VSC which spoiled his chance to take the fight directly to Lewis. Either way, it means that both teams are very close to each other and that could mean an exciting season.

Win

A win for Lewis who secured his 5th win in China from his 6th pole position there. Having controlled the race and his tire management, Lewis put on a clinic of how to win a race and due to Ferrari’s strategy, he was never really threatened.

A win for Vettel who suffered from a bad strategy and still managed to claim second place and limit his damage as he leaves China tied in the championship.

Sure, his Super Soft tires ran out on about lap 28 but Max Verstappen’s progress from 17th to second was a terrific run and comprehensive message.

A win for Red Bull who had a race most likely better than they were hoping for. Running 3rd and 4th for most of the day and showing that in dodgy conditions, the Newey designed car’s drivability and chassis come in to play. Max held off his teammate, Ricciardo, for his first podium in China. Max secured driver of the day.

A win for passing as the fear was the cars wouldn’t be able to follow each other and passing might be very difficult anywhere outside a DRS zone but there was quite a bit of passing in turn 6 and other locations that were not DRS fueled per se. The most notable issue was Romain Grosjean, a lap down, ahead of both Red Bulls with Max protesting that it was hurting his car’s performance. That may be but his teammate was on his tail and didn’t seem to have the same issue of following a car.

A win for Kevin Magnussen who lead Haas F1’s efforts to an important point-scoring position of 8th while his teammate languished in 11th.

A win for Force India and specifically Esteban Ocon for a double points finish and Ocon’s spirited drive to the top 10 for the team in his rookie season.

Fail

Certainly the initial 20 laps were riddled by the Virtual Safety Car and real Safety Car deployed for Stroll and Giovinazzi’s crash respectively. A tactical call by Ferrari saw Sebastian Vettel drop from second to 6th behind his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, and both were behind the Red Bull’s with Daniel Ricciardo holding them up and spoiling their race. While Lewis and Mercedes read the strategy right for VSC and SC periods, Ferrari got Vettel’s wrong.

Valtteri Bottas spun under the Safety Car (as best as I can tell from TV coverage) dropping him back and he spent most of the race hustling around 7th and 8th place. Not where the team needed him to be—which is right on Lewis’s tail.

A fail for McLaren as they retired Stoffel Vandoorne with a Fuel issue. Then later, retiring Alonso as well.

WTH

A fail for Antonio Giovinazzi who had a wonderful debut in Australia only to blot his career with an expensive weekend in China.

Why would Ferrari not see Kimi’s issues and make the call to let Vettel go knowing Seb was much quicker. By delaying, they handed a 10s gap to Hamilton by the 26h lap of the race.

What happened to Felipe Mass and Williams?

What was happening with Kimi? Other than complaining more than anyone about his tires, his engine and his software, it seemed he was simply not happy in that car on Sunday.

Photo by: www.Kymillman.com/F1

Results:

Pos.#DriverChassisEngineLapsGap
144Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes56 
25Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari566.250
333Max VerstappenRed BullTAG5645.192
43Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG5646.035
57Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari5648.076
677Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes5648.808
755Carlos Sainz Jr.Toro RossoRenault561’12.893
820Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari551 Lap
911Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes551 Lap
1031Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes551 Lap
118Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari551 Lap
1227Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault551 Lap
1330Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault551 Lap
1419Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes551 Lap
159Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari551 Lap
Ret14Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda33 
Ret26Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault18 
Ret2Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda17 
Ret36Antonio GiovinazziSauberFerrari3 
Ret18Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes0 

Photos By: www.Kymillman.com/F1

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
race-report-hamilton-wins-5th-chinese-gpI enjoyed this race as it seemed to suggest that the fears of zero overtaking and a complete inability to follow other cars might be slightly overplayed...at least at this type of track. A great run from Lewis and terrific win as well as recovery drive from Vettel and Verstappen.
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xorpheous

Is it just me or is Hamilton crushing a little bit on Vettel? I would call it a bromance, but the adoration seems to be one-way at the moment.

Max Johnson

Would you prefer if he was angsty like last year against Nico? I think it will change later in the season when it’s more tense.

xorpheous

Not a preference, nor a complaint. It’s merely an observation of something I found to be incongruous with his past behaviour.

Zachary Noepe

1) I think Ferrari had bad luck rather than bad strategy, Vettel was perfectly positioned to win until the second SC piggybacked, how can you know that would happen, which leads me to…. 2) Giovinazzi is finished. Liked him but you can’t use all Saubers parts for the season in 20 hours while destroying your big bosses race. Long live Wehrlein. 3) Watching Vettel race at his best is a joy. Wonderful mix of aggression and control, you won’t see better. That hip check was epic. 4) Fine maybe Ferrari should have called Kimi but is he not a professional… Read more »

Max Johnson

For me, Verstappen was the bigger whiner for this race.

Zachary Noepe

Good point. That was childlike.

jakobusvdl

If Ricciardo knew how rattled Verstappen was, he’d have attacked sooner.
Does anyone else think Verstappen’s defensive move on Ricciardo was a bit late?

jakobusvdl

Good highlights Zachery, did NBC show the in-car if Verstappen getting from 19th to 7th on the first lap? It was epic, he made great use of the full track to breeze past cars nose to tail on the ‘racing line’. But what tickled me most was while the commentators were raving about Max’s genius, was that just ahead and to the right, threading his way through ahead of ‘the plucky teen’ was, Animal Alonso, pedalling the performance-free McHonda from 13th to 8th on the same lap. Seeing Alonso outdrive the McHonda is awesome, in the same way as seeing… Read more »

Zachary Noepe

Yes a manual and you’re right it carries advantages, a friend said it’s like an anti-theft device because only people in their 50s who don’t want my old Saab can drive it. I welcome that thought since the locks sometimes just jump right back up in defiance when I try to put them down.

jakobusvdl

Old SAAB, are you an architect, or a quantity surveyor?

Zachary Noepe

How funny – quantity surveyor in fact.

jakobusvdl

Lol :-)
Some stereotypes are true then.
My nephew in the UK (a Civil Engineer) had a series of SAAB’s. All with ridiculously high milage, he wouldn’t look at one with less than 100,000 miles on it, and had a 900 with over 200,000 that drove beautifully.

Salvu Borg

a bit late this JAKO, BUT TRY THIS “VIDEO: VERSTAPPEN AMAZING OPENING LAP IN CHINA – FORMULA 1”.

Negative Camber

I did like the dialog between Max and Seb about the race, that was great to hear.

Zachary Noepe

Big shocker, Wehrlein’s suddenly recovered in time for Bahrain

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/128918/wehrlein-gets-green-light-for-bahrain-return

jakobusvdl

Now there’s a surprise. I’m sure Weherlein’s neck started to feel a lot better on Sunday, about the time Giovanazzi hit the wall.

Daniel Sebergsen

I can’t understand why Ferrari and Vettel didn’t go for the Super soft at his last stopp. With a car which was going lighter each lap he would be in quali mode at the end of the race and probably quicker than Hamilton. For kimi I just have one thing to say: mmbwoah

T-Batwoman

They only had a used set of SS at that point.

Salvu Borg

“A win for Vettel who suffered from bad strategy”. “bad strategy?” who ever wrote that doesn’t know what he is talking about. FERRARI’S strategy was the right and correct one at the time, Vettel would have ended at least five seconds in front after the others had to pitted for tyres, without that safety car, which most probably cost Vettel the race win. After Australia race I said re Kimi problems, that Sergio Marchionne will not tolerate any member of his F1 team giving anything less than 100%, and pronto after the china race he expressed his frustration with Kimi… Read more »

Negative Camber

I wrote it and if you’re not comfortable with it, to the point of insulting me, then perhaps start your own blog and share your views there but as for this blog, I’d prefer not insulting people you disagree with. At this site, the only people who look ignorant or silly are those who insult others. That’s our rule here, Decorum & Civility, no personal attacks. Plenty of other sites that would enjoy this type of thing but we’re not one of them. Bad strategy means just that. Yes, had it all worked out, in hindsight, he may have won… Read more »

Salvu Borg

Dear NC, Please be assured that “You don’t know what you talking about” It honestly was never my intention, I honestly never meant to offend you/insult you, never meant it to be offensive/insulting. at the time I honestly believed I was just expressing my opinion, my disagreement with what you said/wrote on “YOUR” discussion forum. Also be assured that I fully respect your level of sensitivity to disagreements with your expressed opinion. in future I will have to make an effort not to read your expressed opinion, as my F1 type of blood will not allow me not to respond… Read more »

Andreas

The problem isn’t that you have a different opinion – that’s perfectly fine, and the sharing of opinions is exactly why we’re here. And neither is it that it was Todd/NC you disagreed with – he isn’t on some sort of different level to the rest of us, where his opinon can’t be disagreed with, while mine and yours can. The problem is how you choose to express it. If Todd (or I, or anyone else) writes anything you disagree with, just say so. The trick is to respectfully disagree, without using invectives or personal attacks to strengthen your argument.… Read more »

Salvu Borg

I might be wrong but with all honesty to me “doesn’t know what you talking about” in no way means any disrespect/a personal attack/being un-civil. end off.

Negative Camber

Andreas is exactly right, share your opinion all you want but if in order to make a case for your opinion, you do so by telling others they don’t know what they’re talking about…well, that’s just not how we do things here. You said, “I will have to make sure to limit my contributions/expressing my opinions to that of fellow posters of my own level.” I can assure you that I’ve interviewed and met some of the sports most respected and brilliant people who have forgot more about F1 than fans will ever know. They have never engaged this community,… Read more »

Salvu Borg

I believe to have made myself clear enough (my intentions/meanings) about your objections to “do not know what they talking about” I don’t think I need to repeat myself. as far as I am concerned it is end of story.

Zachary Noepe

Hmm I feel like it might be legitimate that from one person’s cultural and literary background ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’ could be equivalent to another’s ‘you’re mistaken’ or ‘i disagree I think you misunderstand’. A wise man once said ‘ I may not be using the best term here although I’m blaming my ham-fisted wording…’ so I know it happens, even to the thoughtful :)

Negative Camber

It does happen for sure, it’s not a big deal, I just want to make sure, regardless of cultures, that we aren’t getting personal here. We’ve all worked hard to be a safe harbor and making disagreements personal is something we need to try to avoid.

Zachary Noepe

Very well said.

Junipero Mariano

Seemed like more passing was happening at turn 6 than in the DRS zones. If there was only a way for the FIA to figure out what made Turn 6 work and at the same time ignore why DRS wasn’t effective.
.

jakobusvdl

DRS was letting them get close enough at the end of the straight, then the low degradation tyres allowed them to follow through turns 1 to 5 then attack at turn 6 without destroying the tyres. And on a wet / dry track!
All we need now are medals.
Bernie’s master plan has finally come together, just after he was deposed :-(

Daniel Johnson

I will say pass of the race has to be Seb on the outside of Ricciardo was as spectacular of a pass I can remember in recent history. As far as strategy is concerned when VSC and SC’s are involved it’s hard to say it was a good or bad call, but it was the wrong call. In a vacuum Ferrari’s call under the VSC was great, but it got foiled by the SC a few laps later. I really would have liked to have seen Seb taking it to Lewis in the closing laps. Something tell’s me we’ll see… Read more »

Negative Camber

You’re exactly right. It was a great call and terrific strategy that turned out to be a bad call due to circumstance. Salvu pointed that out as well and I may not be using the best term here although I’m blaming my ham-fisted wording on the fact that to me, good strategy turns bad when race circumstance render it ineffective. That and it was 4am when I wrote that. ;)

Daniel Johnson

Not ham-fisted and a helluva lot better than I could manage at that time of night. You see this narrative in football (on all the hot take talk shows) of was this the right call?? When a coach makes the choice do something that is statistically correct but ends up failing or a coach does something with a small chance of success but ends up winning. Also in Nascar a lot with different strategies that win if a caution comes out at the right moment. In the end you cast your lots and hope for the best. It’s part of… Read more »

jakobusvdl

4am Todd, that’s dedication, to F1 and F1B, thanks

Salvu Borg

Got to love Alonso’s under the leg shot even with all the s**t going on, the bloke’s still got some sense of humor.: “F1-just enough time to sneak in a pre-race game of table…facebook”.

jakobusvdl

Good report Todd, there is nothing like variable track conditions to add a bit of uncertainty to a race. The fact the wins in the first two races have hinged on strategy calls indicates that the Mercedes and Ferrari are really close on race pace, at least in the hands of Hamilton and Vettel. Raikonnen had another poor race, though there were a couple of other poor performances from Massa and Bottas. Lots of achievers too, Sainz and Magnussen had great races, as did Alonso until he broke a drive shaft trying to come back at Ocon. The effect of… Read more »

Salvu Borg

New aero up to 30%? more than last year, new cars, new and vast differences in car Behavior on track, some cars seems to be effected following another even when up to 2.5 seconds behind, others are not so effected, some seems not to be at all, they seem to be able to follow a car close for lap after lap, still there are some that are effected, at least tyres wise even when in clean air. I suspect that it depends a lot on the driver concerned. Giovinazzi qualifying+Giovinazzi race+VSC+SC=happens…we missed a real race/ fight between Gina and number… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Hi Salvu, I think you are right, without the safety car, Vettel would have undercut Hamilton. Ferrari rolled the strategy dice, and circumstances went against them, without Vianazzi’s crash it could well have been a race winning call.

Salvu Borg

As Zach said, “FERRARI had bad luck rather than BAD STRATEGY”. Mercedes didn’t follow suit and “MADE A BAD STRATEGY CALL LIKE FARRARI DID” because they know for sure that losing the front to FERRARI, FERRARI would have pulled away/open a gap, something that they running in clean air with FERRARI on their tail they could not do. Anyhow, next one (Bahrain) will show us two things, the car with the best downforce and the best sustained behavior as well as the best power unit. downforce and behavior on track: the cars will be at their full glory downforce except… Read more »