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Chinese Grand Prix – One Epic Race!!!

by F1Fan on April 19, 2010

Just how to describe the Chinese Grand Prix? What Title to use? I ended up trying to describe the race, but a whole bunch of other titles would be equally good:

  • Changeable Weather Makes Race
  • VIrgin Racing Out Before Start
  • Jumped Start Costs Alonso Podium Finish
  • Liuzzi Takes Out Buemi and Kobayashi on First Lap
  • Red Bull Pit Stop Woes Costly for Vettel & Webber
  • China a Grand Prix of Pit Stops
  • Button Wins Again
  • Tire Strategy Key to WIn
  • Second Consecutive Podium Finish for Rosberg

Changeable Weather Makes Race

Even before the race began rain was in the air and forecast for the race, the problem was that it was that on again, off again type of rain and right up to the point that the cars rolled off on their reconnaissance lap none of the teams were sure when the rain was really going to start and how hard it would be. At the last moment most of the teams opted for the Option tire banking that the rain would not amount to much. Unfortunately that was not the case, with varying intensity of rain occurring throughout the race and in different parts of the track making the conditions treacherous.

Virgin Racing Out Before Start

Virgin had a good start to the weekend during Practice running a good number of laps and Timo Glock qualified ahead of Lotus on Saturday. But it all came undone on race day, Lucas Di Grassi’s car had clutch issues after being released from Parc Ferme which prevented him from starting the race until lap seven, and Timo Glock’s car lost engine valve system air pressure during the final stages of the grid procedure which couldn’t be repaired during the race. A really long way to travel not to even be able to take part in the Grand Prix.

Jumped Start Costs Alonso Podium Finish

Starting from the second row of the grid behind Sebastian Vettel,  Fernando Alonso had a brilliant start shooting out of the box easily passing Vettel and Webber. Unfortunately for Alonso, the Stewards decided he had jumped the start and imposed a drive through penalty. Even with this penalty he managed to finish in fourth spot just behind Nico Rosberg who he had chased down and had been challenging for third place over the last four or five laps. Fernando Alonso had taken 5 pit stops which included his drive through penalty during the race, Nico Rosberg only had two.

Liuzzi Takes Out Buemi and Kobayashi on First Lap

Coming into the first complex of corners after the start Tonio Liuzzi in the Force India VJM03 outbraked himself locking the wheels sending his car spinning of track re-entering the track backwards at the next corner and colliding heavily with Sebastian Buemi who was knocked into Kamui Kobiyashi taking out himself and both of the other cars and almost collecting Nico Hulkenberg in the process.

Red Bull Pit Stop Woes Costly for Vettel & Webber

Liuzzi’s accident brought out the safety car and at the same time the rain started falling heavier causing most of the front runners with the exception of Rosberg, Button, Kubica, Petrov and De La Rosa, to come into the pits for Intermediate tires. Webber and Vettel came in together at the end of the second lap stacking their Pit stop. For some reason Webber’s Pit stop took over 30 seconds severely delaying himself and his team mate Vettel costing valuable track position that both drivers never fully recovered from, finishing  the Grand Prix in 6th(Vettel) and 8th(Webber) positions.

China a Grand Prix of Pit Stops

In a season with regulations that only require one compulsory tire change, China must have broken a record for Pit stops. Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) and Hulkenberg(Williams) stopped 6 times each, Fernando Alonso pitting 5 times and of the other drivers that actually finished the race nine stopped four times and five drivers stopped twice. Well over a combined total of sixty three pit stops especially when you count the Pit stops Jarno Trulli and Pedro De La Rosa who retired on track.

Button Wins Again/Tire Strategy Key to WIn

For the second time this season Jenson Button has won a Grand Prix, his last win being also in Wet conditions at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne, Australia.

The Key to Jensons win was tire choice, tire management, when everyone else came in during the first Safety Car period Button stayed out along with Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov, staying on the option tire in difficult wet conditions while most of the field changed to intermediates, luckily the rain abated and the top 4 were able to keep their cars on track, that is until Lap 19 when Rosberg slid wide and Button was able to get by into the lead. A lead he never gave up from that point on, although Hamilton had clawed his way through the field finally getting into second place during Nico Rosbergs second Pit rotation. During the last five laps Buttons tires were completely gone and Hamilton was closing at over a second per lap, on lap 52 with 4 to go, Button made a mistake locking his front wheels he slid wide but managed to recover, that mistake allowed Hamilton to make up over 4 seconds. But with Hamilton’s tires shot as well he just didn’t have enough pace to catch and pass button. For the first time since 2007 McLaren finished a Grand Prix on the top two steps of the podium.

Chinese Grand Prix Results (Top Ten)

PositionDriver
Nationality
DriverNumber of
Pit Stops
TeamGrand Prix
Points
1GBJenson Button2McLaren25
2GBLewis Hamilton4McLaren18
3GermanyNico Rossberg2Mercedes GP15
4SpainFernando Alonso5Ferrari12
5PolandlRobert Kubica2Renault F110
6GermanySebastian Vettel4Red Bull Racing8
7GermanyVitaly Petrov2Renault F16
8AustraliaMark Webber4Red Bull Racing4
9BrazilFelipe Massa4Ferrari2
10GermanyMichael Schumacher4Mercedes GP1
last updated Apr 18, 2010
Animated flag images by 3DFlags.com

Second Consecutive Podium Finish for Rosberg

Rosberg had another great race in China today, finishing in third place after leading the race for most of the first 19 laps. Rosberg used a similar strategy to Button, staying out on the option tires initially and pitting on the same laps as Button. Unfortunately for Rosberg it seems that Buttons smooth driving style allows him to extract more from his tires, allowing him to overtake when Rosbergs worn tires lost grip and slowed his pace.
With Rosbergs podium finish Mercedes must have been pretty happy, having Mercedes engined cars on all three steps of the podium.

This only just scratches the surface of the action at the Chinese Grand Prix so no doubt more posts will follow over the coming days.

China really was an epic race.

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{ 1 comment }

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