Sebastien Vettel led from pole-to-finish & won a wet Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai in the third race of the season and denied Jenson Button a hat-trick of wins. Red Bull had a dream race as Mark Webber finished 2nd to hand them their first-ever 1-2 finish. The two Brawn GP cars finished 3rd and 4th with Jenson Button leading teammate Rubens Barrichello. The Red Bulls and Brawns were the ones at the head for all of the race and no other team held onto the 1st position for the whole of 56 laps! That shows how far ahead these teams were in terms of pace, handling and reliability. McLaren’s revival continued as both their cars finished in the top eight with Heikki Kovalainen finishing in 5th ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton in 6th. Timo Glock overcame a five-place grid penalty and a pit-lane start to finish in 7th as Sebastien Buemi continued his good start to the season as he collected the last point in 8th place.
The race was started under the Safety Car as torrential rains hit the Shanghai Circuit before the race began and though it eased off a little, it was still pouring enough to prompt safety concerns. Timo Glock and Robert Kubica started from the pit lane as all the others drove round behind the Safety Car and pole-sitter Sebastien Vettel and actual racing only began at the end of the ninth lap, Vettel getting a good slingshot start and maintaining his lead into the twisty turn one complex. There were no tangling or touching incidents at the start and it was going to be a brave driver that would try out overtaking moves in the rain.But F1 drivers are really brave and Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Sebastien Buemi demonstrated ample evidence of that as they moved up the order with some deft overtaking manoeuvres. Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen were the ones slipping down the order and Trulli’s race was eventually ended as Robert Kubica climbed over the back of his car in what was a move borne out of sheer frustration. There were a few slippery moments for many of the drivers and that led to an interesting cat-n-mouse game as drivers passed and re-passed others due to those “mistakes”. Much of the up-and-down movements were done by Lewis Hamilton initially and Mark Webber and Jenson Button later on. Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Nick Heidfeld were others who had off-road moments.
Nelson Piquet had the biggest spin-n-bang and spun into the gravel trap, losing his front wing in the process and had another one later on in the race. The biggest loser on the day turned out to be Felipe Massa as his Ferrari Engine gave up on the 21st lap as he was running in 3rd during the second Safety Car period. Adrian Sutil was a having a dream race as he kept out of trouble initially and a clever pit strategy saw him running in 7th for the latter part of the race and a spin from Lewis Hamilton handing him 6th place on a platter. But it all unravelled on the 51st lap as Sutil lost the back of the car on turn five and slammed into the barriers, losing the front wing in the process! Sad for the Force India Team 😦
The podium finish sees Jenson Button maintain his lead in the Drivers’ Championships with 21 points ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello with 15 points. Vettel now slots into third with 10, 0.5 points ahead of Mark Webber. Neither Ferrari driver has scored a single point and this is their worst start to the season in 27 years! Unless they sort out their Diffuser/Tyres/KERS woes, they are in danger of being an also-ran team this year…a frightening thought! The next race is the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir on the 25th/26th April and will be the last race of the Asian leg of the season. Who’d bet against Red Bull and Brawn GP ‘not’ to win this one as well? Bring.It.On!