The Chinese Grand Prix first took place in 2004, and was won by Rubens Barrichello. 2006 saw the scene of Michael Schumacher’s final race victory, and we all know what happened here in 2007… 11 years on, and I still laugh just thinking about Hamilton in that gravel trap in the pitlane. In fact, I might just go and watch that instead.
Hamilton has won here 5 times, Alonso twice, Button once, Raikkonen once, Rosberg twice (including his maiden win here in 2012) and Vettel once.
Vettel took pole from Raikkonen for their second front row lockout in a row. Bottas out qualified Hamilton who could only manage 4th, and Marcus Ericsson was given a 5-place grid penalty for ignoring double yellow flags, which changed his qualifying position to 20th and last to… 20th and last! Good old Formula One grid penalties making a mockery of the sport!
For once I was really glad the race didn’t start until 7:10, as I really needed those extra ten minutes sleep!
Lewis Hamilton started to complain about his tyres not lasting and was not sure how they could run a one stop race, before the race has even started! At least he’s consistent in his complaints.
Bottas and Verstappen both jumped Raikkonen at the start, Hulkenberg jumped Sainz for 7th and Stroll made a great start to grab 12th.
At that point I noticed from the on-board shots of the Force India cars that they have the drivers names on the halo, is this just in case they forget who they are?
Magnussen picked up where he left off in Bahrain, claiming that he was quicker than Grosjean and should be allowed to overtake him. Before Grosjean hit back with “Come on guys its only lap 6!” Looks to me like we have the new Force India!
Lap 12 and not a single overtake had happened. Both Force Indias pitted in a bid to make the undercut work, and suddenly we had lots of overtakes with drivers on new tyres coming across drivers on old tyres. It was all very exciting and I hadn’t thought about turning this off for the 2007 race once in the last half hour, or it is because I don’t know where the tv remote is?
Red Bull double pitted the cars, with Verstappen and Ricciardo both pitting on the same lap.
Hamilton was told to box if Raikkonen did not or to stay out if Raikkonen pitted. Raikkonen stayed out, so Hamilton drove into the pitlane, past his old gravel trap, which is now just a tarmac run off area, and nowhere near as entertaining.
Bottas was told to push hard and give it everything he had as he got ready for his stop. He stopped on the end of lap 19.
Ferrari failed to react and left Vettel out for an additional two laps, costing him the race lead. It was a far cry from the Schumacher/Brawn glory days and they seem to have gone back to playing rock/paper/scissors with the strategy, only it appears to be “box/stay out/retire” with Ferrari.
Ferrari were doing a great job of levelling the playing field, great pace, rubbish strategy!
Raikkonen was left on the track with ailing tyres as Bottas bait, to try and back him up into Vettel. When this failed he was finally pitted, coming back out in 6th having lost places to both Hamilton and Ricciardo.
Pierre “Marc Marquez” Gasly shoved his way up inside teammate Brendan Hartley going for a gap that wasn’t there and caused his team mate to spin, leaving a lot of debris on the track and bringing out the safety car.
Gasly immediately jumped on the team radio to let the stewards know it was clearly not his fault and that Hartley closed the door on him. Sorry Pierre, the door was never open!
Red Bull again choose to pit, as the leaders had just left passed the pit lane entrance when the safety car was deployed. This could prove to be the perfect strategy as they will be on brand new soft tyres while the leaders are on mediums.
Kevin Magnussen was advised by his engineer that “Lapped cars can now overtake” Kevin replied: “There aren’t any behind me!” Good point KMag, good point!
The safety car came in at the end of lap 35, and the stewards hit Gasly with a 10 second penalty.
Ricciardo got Raikkonen and started to reel in Hamilton. Verstappen tried the same, but around the outside where it is impossible and was forced to run wide, losing out to Ricciardo who closed right up to the back of the Mercedes.
Ricciardo then got past Hamilton in a nice clean overtake, are you watching Max?! He was then told that Vettel was next, go get him!
Verstappen was now also back on Hamilton’s tail, and this time made a clean overtake, I genuinely did not know he was capable of that!
Riccardo passed Vettel for second, leaving him in the clutches of Verstappen, who stuffs it up the inside and just drives into the side of the Ferrari causing them both to spin, and in the confusion Raikkonen leapfrogged Hamilton. It was a desperate lunge, and his second major mistake during the race. It cost Vettel dearly as he dropped to 7th.
Ricciardo took the lead from Bottas, and Alonso got Vettel. Verstappen was given a 10 second time penalty.
Ricciardo won, from Bottas, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Verstappen (who crossed the line in 4th but lost out due to the penalty) Hulkenberg, Alonso, Vettel, Sainz and Magnussen grabbing the final point.
Drive of the Day, fan vote: Ricciardo
Drive of the Day, Fiona’s vote: Sebastian Vettel. Desperately unlucky not to win the race, Ferrari strategy let him down in a major way, and he didn’t deserve to finish as low down as 8th, innocent victim of Verstappen.
Conclusions from China:
- Bring back Hamilton’s gravel trap!
- Ferrari need a new strategist.
- Verstappen needs to grow up! That should have been a 1-2, Red Bull played the strategy game to perfection.
- Pierre Gasly is not Marc Marquez and should realise that running into people isn’t actually a good idea
- A grid penalty that makes no difference whatsoever to your qualifying position is not a penalty.
- Ricciardo needs a haircut, that fluffy, curly rat look he has going on is clearly him compensating for the fact he is going bald.
- Also, he needs a new celebration, the shooey is disgusting, and I don’t blame Martin for turning it down. I wouldn’t want to drink champagne from his smelly sweaty shoe either! Maybe a Karaoke contest instead…
- Next time you think you have the most pointless job in the world, remember that Red Bull pay someone to fix mirrors to Verstappen’s car.
A little bit of Verstappen crashing out
A little bit of Hamilton winning nowt
A little bit of Vettel behind me
A little bit of Perez I don’t see.
A little bit of Ocon he’s too slow.
A little bit of Grosjean don’t think so
A little bit of Raikkonen drinking beer
A little bit of Stroll bringing up the rear!
Fiona’s race rating: 4. The end was superb and Ricciardo did a fantastic job, as did Vettel and Bottas but that would have been a straight forward procession if it hadn’t been for safety car, and you can’t rely on the safety car to make racing more interesting, this is not Nascar!
See you in two weeks for Azerbaijan, scene was one of the wildest races I have ever seen!
Photo: Formula 1