Chinese Grand Prix 2014
Following a spectacular Bahrain GP, China has a lot to live up to but before the weekend has even begun, the drama begins. Pastor Maldonado has a grid penalty for rolling Esteban Gutierrez, Red Bull lost their appeal against Daniel Ricciardo's Australian DQ but these things are mere formalities this weekend. All eyes are on Ferrari after their Team Principal, Stefano Domenicali handed in his resignation. The team quickly replaced him with Marco Mattiacci who is appearing to be a rather odd choice. While he has sold many Prancing Horses in North America for the company, he's should no prior interest in F1 and now he has the most high profile job for the team.
As the details of Red Bull's fuel flow issue come to light, we also discover that Mercedes had their own QC go and argue for a suspended 3 race ban due to prior intent being shown. There's definitive proof of this as a communication that we don't get to hear has a guy behind the scenes questioning the decision.
With 22 minutes until qualifying Maldonado's weekend manages to get even worse. Preliminary looks show a sensor issue in his engine and the power units take hours to fit on the car, though it turns out the problem is actually an oil leak in the engine. More misery for the Venezuelan, who is now unable to serve his 5 place grid penalty.
Crofty rightly points out that the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso has been showing good pace in practice Will the weather be the only thing to rain on Mercedes' parade?
The drivers are feeling their way around the track, Rosberg has gone off track and he's on the full wets! At least he's not the only one struggling. I'd love to tell you more about quali but it's like playing peek-a-boo.
Caterham are running both cars with inters. And Toro Rosso had Vergne on them too. A risk that could pay off but I personally don't think it will.
Bahrain podium-finisher, Sergio Perez, carries a bit too much speed into the turn 6.
Sauber and Bianchi's Marussia join the inters club. Is the tide changing tyre-wise?
Bianchi has a fantastic lap only to ruin it in the final corner. Gutted for him.
Sutil makes a significant leap forward with a time set on his inters. Speculation is floating around that Raikkonen who didn't have time to switch to inters.
Gutierrez squanders a decent lap with his impatience meaning he ends Q1 17th. Grosjean, Perez and Raikkonen just about get into Q2.
17th – GUT 18th - KOB 19th - BIA 20th - ERI 21st - CHI 22nd – MAL
As a side note it worries me that Max Chilton always seems to qualify last. The only thing he has is his consistency and that's only because he doesn't take risks when it comes to wheel to wheel racing.
The green light is on for Q2 and the cars are out. Bob Fernley from Force India tells us that Sergio's close shave in Q1 was due to the fact that the Mexican didn't realise he'd crossed the line in time.
The initial Q2 time is set by the lone Sauber of Sutil but he's dropping down the order like a stone as the other cars set their times.
Vettel has been fighting his car but has managed to get his car a mere 6 tenths behind Hamilton's! In fact Vettel has halved the gap.
Massa tried to get space but finds himself behind the Ferrari of Raikkonen, whose impatience has denied him a clear lap.
Grosjean is putting in a stellar effort to get his Lotus into Q3.
McLaren aren't looking great, neither car is in Q3 and it turns out Sergio's woes are just a lack of pace, he's 16th. But the big story is the fact that Romain Grosjean has made it into Q3. Finally something for Lotus to celebrate.
11th - RAI 12th - BUT 13th - KVY 14th - SUT 15th - MAG 16th - PER
Towards the end of Q2 the rain intensified and the tyre choice is getting tougher.
The drivers so far have all decided on intermediates except for Nico Hulkenberg. I wonder if he knows something no one else does.
Mercedes tell Rosberg that they expect “light” rain through this session. Does he mean compared to British standards?
Vettel pulls a 1:54.9 out of the bag! But Lewis smashes the time by 6 tenths!
It turns out that the full wets are a bad idea and so Hulkenberg has pitted for inters, other drivers getting a fresh set of the green walled tyre.
Hamilton's time goes beneath the 1:54 mark just as I thought we had a fight for the front row. His team-mate however manages to spin his car ruining any chances of getting on the front row. He still managed to get 4th though, even with his dramas.
Lewis takes pole... again. Ricciardo starts 2nd while Vettel is 3rd.
HAM RIC VET ROS ALO MAS BOT HUL VER GRO is our provisional top 10.
Come race day, the formation lap reveals that Nico Rosberg's engineers are lacking telemetry for his car. Not good news for him.
The lights are out and Felipe makes an incredible start. Alonso is up to 3rd after contact with Massa but it was Williams at fault according to the commentators.
The McLarens have had their dramas in the opening lap, Jenson down to 14th and contact for Magnussen sees him languishing in 16th. With Sutil in last place I think it's a safe bet to assume that he made contact with the McLaren.
Replays of the start show Rosberg bogging down and becoming too preoccupied with that incident and failing to notice Bottas who he makes contact with.
Sutil is apparently about to retire, he's broken the power unit. He's so far behind I don't know why he hasn't already. Just as I typed this the Sauber is pulled into the garage and Sutil has completed a hat trick of DNFs for the team. Turns out they were making space. Maybe they should just have the space ready in future? However he's not the only one with issues Alonso is complaining of front left graining.
The first driver to pit is Jenson Button and he gets himself a nice pair of mediums. Vettel is now complaining of the graining but Red Bull can't find a nice space to feed him back into.
Grosjean pits also getting medium compound tyres. Bottas is allegedly joining Rosberg in the 'telemetry is overrated' club.
Massa has issues with his pitstop, they had the wrong tyres ready for him and now the rear left won't go on. He's stone dead last. He was 6th.
Hulkenberg and Alonso pit. I think that the pit window is well and truly open.
Rosberg now has a lack of downforce. It's not his day.
Alonso has used the undercut to his advantage, and is now in front of Vettel.
Rosberg pits and he feeds out behind the Toro Rosso's who haven't stopped yet.
Perez overtakes Button and I'm sure he's glad that he's in a Force India now.
Massa had a rear left hub issue causing the pit stop from hell. His team mate is still in the points though so it's not a total loss for Williams though.
Hamilton says his front and rear tyres are fine. Is he seriously trying to psych everyone out? However he's just run wide so he's going to have to pit. He comes out in 1st. He's dominating this in a way that would have everyone complaining if he was called Vettel.
Ricciardo is running faster than Vettel and Alonso, is he about to get his second first podium?
Rosberg and Vettel dice for third. Rosberg manages to make it stick but they've brought Ricciardo close to them.
Ricciardo is all over the back of Vettel but isn't able to make it stick. It's only a matter of time though.
For the second time in two races Vettel is being asked to move over to let his team mate past. He's refusing to though. He doesn't do well with a competitive team mate does he? However he bails out before the fight gets going. We hear on the radio to Vettel that “Ricciardo's on a two stop”. Is that what made him move over?
Grosjean is informed of an issue with 4th gear and is told to use it as little as possible.
Grosjean goes wide and Lotus take the decision to retire him. It's a shame after the amazing effort he made to put that car 10th yesterday, and Lotus' first ever retirement in Shanghai.
Hamilton apparently has graining on his tyres, bit early for that don't you think?
Perez locks his front left coming into the pits.
Ferrari are very much appearing to be the main threat to Mercedes; well, Fernando is, anyway.
Kobayashi riles Vettel by unlapping himself. Kobayashi is told to pull away and Vettel pits.
36 laps in and Bottas shows as having used 0.0% of his fuel! Either he's using witchcraft to move his machine or there's an issue with his fuel flow metre.
Rosberg runs wide, his front left screaming for mercy, its wish is granted as Rosberg pits with Ricciardo right behind him.
Maldonado makes a move on Gutierrez, no contact is made and Gutierrez gives up quite easily in the end.
Bottas' telemetry is confirmed as broken by Ted in the pits, including the fuel flow metre.
Rosberg informs the pit team of his fuel levels then says it's annoying and that he doesn't want to anymore.
Rosberg overtakes Alonso for 2nd, not that the Spaniard put up much of a fight. Now it's just a matter of will Ricciardo overtake him for 3rd?
Nico Rosberg is told that he has enough fuel until the end of the race.
The Red Bulls are high on fuel usage, so I think that Ferrari are about to get the 3rd place.
Red Bull are telling Ricciardo to push, I think they're counting on the fact that the Ferrari is hard on its tyres.
Chilton has made a very late stop, there are only 5 laps to go.
Alonso has a massive lock up. He has 4 laps to go and a 4 second gap to the Red Bull. Once again the battle for the final podium position is the one to watch.
Sergio has been told to protect his car he's in the points and there are just two laps to go.
Interestingly Ted has just said that the Bahrain GP was the first double McLaren retirement since Indianapolis since 2006! Incredible to think they went that long. While neither car is in the points at least both of them will be finishing this time out.
Lewis Hamilton crosses the line, he's won again but more than that he has a couple of new records to his name. His pole yesterday means that now he's taken more pole positions than any other British driver and today marks his first hat-trick of Formula 1 victories.
Rosberg makes it another Mercecdes 1-2 and Fernando Alonso rounds out the podium.