Race Review - Chinese Grand Prix
Welcome to the PureF1.com race review for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
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Nico Rosberg's perfect start as well as the early retirement of team-mate Schumacher created the perfect scenario for Rosberg as he claimed victory by over 20 seconds.
From the start Rosberg comfortably led into turn 1 as Schumacher had a poor start alongside but was able to hold on 2nd. The biggest mover was Jenson Button who was able to jump the very slow starting Kobayashi and Raikkonen to tuck in behind the 2 Mercedes.
Further down Hamilton too made up a few positions, but Sebastian Vettel made a terrible start down in 11th dropping down to 14th after the first lap.
From there Rosberg was able to pull out a decent gap on Schumacher, while the 7 times champ was just able to stay ahead by over a second thus disabling the DRS.
The same could not be said for the chasing pack, the entire race saw the majority of the top 10 covered by under 10 seconds and as a result the DRS effect was somewhat negated as everyone was able to use it.
After his poor start Vettel was struggling to move back through the field, the famous lack of top speed on his Red Bull meant he was unable to take advantage of the DRS down the back straight so strategy would be key.
With the lack of overtaking some driverís opted to pit early and try and use the advantage of fresher tyres, Webber and Kobayashi were among the first to pit. Hamilton and Raikkonen pitted together and in a frantic pit stop Hamilton was able to jump the Finn and move up to 4th place, as they came out together, the early stopping Webber was able to get past the Lotus as he decision paid off.
Interestingly the Mercedes driverís were among the last to pit for new tyres however a wheel gun failure at Schumacherís stop meant his right front was not bolted on properly and Michael had to retire.
Sergio Perez was having another strong race and his now famous ability to make tyres last meant he tried a 2 stop strategy while most around did 3. After Perez pitted, Rosberg was able to pass, Massa using the DRS to retake the lead and at that time hold a 4 second lead over Button.
Just before half distance the drivers on a 3 stop strategy pitted for the 2nd time, McLaren had opted to stay on the soft compound after the first stop, therefore pitted first as did the early stopping Webber.
Still few changes in position as the cars remained in close proximity and the DRS remained pretty useless.
Rosberg was able to make his tyres last longer than most but in doing so had allowed Button to close down the gap so after Rosberg had made his 2nd stop Button had gone ahead but still had another stop to make.
Around lap 40 the 3 stopping drivers made their final stops, Alonso and Hamilton pitting together from 4th and 3rd respectively however with such a bunched up field, they drop down out of the top 10.
When Button makes his final stop from the lead he is looking to get out ahead of a train of cars behind Raikkonen, however a slight issue with the right rear means he canít do so dropping behind the train and ultimately gifting Rosberg a lead of 20 seconds with the Mercedes lapping faster.
Entering the final 12 laps the gap from Raikkonen in 2nd to di Resta in 12th is 10 seconds and battles left, right and centre start to develop as tyre wear becomes an issue.
Coming back through from his final stop Hamilton makes another bold move on Senna at turn 6 to take 7th, just behind Alonso and Maldonado are also dicing, the Spaniard tries to do a wall of death around the outside of turn 7 but slips off onto the run off areas losing a position to Perez.
Mark Webber also coming back through from his 3rd stop also makes a move this time of Grosjean at turn 6, the Frenchman tries to respond but does a replica of Alonso running wide at turn 7, letting Senna through and resulting in a mighty 4 corner duel with Maldonado, they make light contact but Grosjean just manages to stay ahead.
Thatís not the last major action, as Hamilton tries a move on Webber at turn 1, the Aussie runs fractionally wide onto the marbles giving Hamilton the place. Up ahead Vettel dives up the inside of Raikkonen at turn 6, the Finn runs wide, loses traction on the marbles.
Hamilton and Webber also quickly pounce on the now vulnerable Raikkonen as the Finnís tyres appear to have fallen off the cliff. That makes him easy prey for team-mate Grosjean, Maldonado and Alonso as Kimi loses 6 places in a single lap.
Soon after, the 2 Sauberís of Perez and Kobayashi move through on Raikkonen and end up battling each other as a drag race to the hairpin ensues with Kobayashi leading Perez and Raikkonen out of the corner.
The battle for the final 2 podium places then heats up as the 2 McLarenís home in on Vettelís Red Bull. The German has no defense for Button with a top speed disadvantage and old tyres meaning the 2009 champion was able to regain that 2nd spot, a few laps later Hamilton was also able to make the same move on Vettel using DRS and make it an all Mercedes powered podium.
On the final lap Webber too is able to pass Vettel, meaning the Aussie beats the German for the 2nd straight race as Red Bull finish 4th and 5th, Grosjean emerges 6th ahead of Senna for Williams, team-mate Maldonado makes it a double top 8 finish for the Grove team in 8th while Alonso makees it 3 points finishes in a row in 9th and Kobayashi rounds out a tough day for Sauber in 10th.
Up front though it was a serene display from Nico Rosberg, the German able to look after his tyres and ensure a maiden Grand Prix win at his 111th attempt, and Mercedesí first win as a works team since 1955.
In the championship, Hamiltonís 3rd straight 3rd place finish gives him a 2 point lead of Button, Alonso moves down to 3rd 6 points behind Button, with Webber a point behind in 4th. Vettel is 5th 17 points behind leader Hamilton while Rosbergís 25 points means he moves up to 6th.
In the constructorís McLaren has a 24 point lead over Red Bull, Ferrari remain 3rd with Sauber 4th, Mercedes are now 5th with Lotus 6th.
Author: Rick McCabe
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