Chinese GP - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Pure opinion. None of this is said with any malice, although Iím sure there are some who will take it as such! Enjoy it for what it is, and by all means, let me know your thoughts and opinions as to why I am right or wrong. The Good:
110 Grand Prix starts and no wins. I, along with many other writers, had openly questioned whether Rosberg had the mental strength to break his duck. Never have I been happier to be proved so wrong. Emphatically wrong. Rosberg produced a drive that showed a maturity and nervelessness that he had been accused of lacking in the last two races, and in truth, he was peerless throughout the weekend. In qualifying he produced a lap that left everyone dumbfounded, a lap which people gave up trying to compete with when they were only halfway through their own laps. In the race, he made a superb start and from then on was never seriously threatened (to the point where he did not have to make a single overtake) and you always felt that he had another gear if he had needed it. Ladies and gentlemen, finally, Nico Rosberg has arrived.
I thought long and hard about which section to put Mercedes into, bearing in mind the differing fortunes of both their drivers. However, that seemed a little harsh when they were celebrating their first win since their reincarnation as a Constructor. Indeed, it was their first win since Juan Manuel Fangio piloted a Mercedes to victory at Monza in 1955. 57 years on, it would appear that they have produced a car capable of mixing it with the best. I for one, am hoping that it is not a false dawn. Their strategy in bringing Rosberg in early for his second stop so that he would get out into clean air showed confidence that Rosberg could make the tyres last, and proved to be a stroke of unlauded genius.
Although he confessed that he was hoping for more, 2nd was definitely the most he could realistically have achieved. People will of course mention the botched pit stop, but it turned out to be of little relevance as he would not have caught Rosberg anyway. Button drove a good race Ė he was quick off the line, showed consistent pace, stayed out of trouble and finished ahead of his teammate.
Following a hat trick of podium finishes this season, Lewis Hamilton sits on top of the Drivers Championship despite having finished no higher than third in any race. One can only hope that Hamilton heeds the lessons of this. Yes, he would have liked to have been on a higher step of the podium in one of the races, but his consistent and level headed approach is bringing results. It is this consistency, that he has lacked in the past, that will be his greatest tool in his quest to become a multiple World Champion. What this season so far has shown Hamilton could prove to be utterly, utterly invaluable.
Another solid showing, finally rewarded with both drivers scoring World Championship points. Williams continue to raise eyebrows by defying the pre-season expectations of many.
He lasted more than 5 laps. Infact he managed to finish the race. Even scored some points in his highest ever F1 finish. Hallelujah. The Bad:
Fernando Alonso did fairly well to finish 9th, and even Felipe Massa drove well to bring his car home in 13th. Which in itself is a measure of how far Ferrari have fallen. There was a time when this sort of finish for Ferrari would have created headlines, now it barely merited a passing comment.
He will have wanted and expected so much more than his 10th place finish. A superb display in qualifying was undone in the first few corners, and from then on Kobayashi just slowly slipped down the order. Good job for him the race was only 56 laps long. Kobayashi has been put under severe pressure by his teammates showing in Malaysia, and he will need to make better use of his chances. Without wanting to merely jump on a bandwagon, would Perez have finished 10th after qualifying 3rd?
Is there a team which has generated fewer column inches than Force India so far this season? Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg struggled home in 12th and 15th respectively in Shanghai. It is one thing to slip quietly under the radar, but Force India are barely noticable at the moment. It is quite a bump down to earth for a team that much was expected of at the start of the season. We know that money is at a premium in Vijay Mallyas circles at the moment, but the team seems to have been caught standing still while the likes of Williams and Sauber have been making strides.
Another team that made all the right noises at the start of the season but have been strangely quiet since the action actually got underway. Caterham did not expect to still be scrabbling around with the Marussias and HRTs of this world, infact hopes were high that their improved driver line up would regularly make it into Q2 on a Saturday. Itís still early in the season, but the signs are less than promising. The Ugly:
If anyone was unsure what would happen at the moment a set of tyres reached Ďthe cliffí then just watch the last 8 laps of Raikkonens race. One can only imagine how he must have felt as he watched his almost certain podium finish fall apart in front of his very eyes. His heart must have sank a little further with every car that passed him. Which, seeing as he fell from 2nd to an eventual 14th, means his heart must have ended up in his boots.
Poor old Michael hasnít had a lot of luck. A 10th place finish in Malaysia has now been sandwiched by two lap 12 retirements. Once again, there was nothing the old stager could do about it, as a human error in the pit lane left him having to pull the car off the road for the sake of his own safety and that of others. He was incredibly calm about it afterwards though and as my colleague Neil Goff wrote in his piece on the debacle, it was refreshing to hear him be so philosophical in his subsequent interview. Mercedes have a quick car, itís only a matter of time before Schumacher makes good use of it. I am keeping the faith.
Bahrain Grand Prix
Leaving aside the argument over whether it should or shouldnít take place, the Bahrain Grand Prix is onto a loser. If it does go ahead, itís going to have to one hell of a race under the circumstances. And it comes just a week after a great race put on by China. It canít compete.
I watch Sky, I miss Jake Humphrey. I watch BBC, I miss Martin Brundle. Something has to be done. Want to be a guest writer on VitalF1.com?
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