Pit stop strategy for new Pirelli tyres did play a part in today's Formula One race but so did several incidents.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso came from behind to take the FIA Formula One 2013 Chinese Grand Prix victory at the end of the 56 lap marathon. The former double World Champion gained his 31st career win after quietly climbing up the field during the race from starting in third place on the grid.
The Spaniard kept second place man, Lotus Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen at bay who had some ups and downs in the race. The Finnish driver had contact with McLaren’s Sergio Perez around lap 16 which resulted in damage to the front wing of Raikkonen’s car.
Fortunately, both drivers were able to race on but Raikkonen was the one rewarded with a podium finish in the end. It was reported during the Grand Prix that the incident would be investigated afterwards and any further action is yet to be confirmed.
McLaren’s Jenson Button appears to be moving in the right direction now after having a wobbly start to the season. The 2009 World Champion put in a solid performance and picked up a respectable fifth place finish as the chequered flag waved. Now the race has ended though he is under investigation by the stewards for suspected use of DRS under yellow flags on lap 24.
Alonso’s team mate, Felipe Massa failed to catch him and their closest rivals in the race and he had to settle for sixth place. The Brazilian driver did fend off Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo though, who qualified in the top 10 and drove well in the race, despite receiving damage to his front wing on lap five and the cause of this is still currently unknown.
Force India’s Paul Di Resta was another midfield driver who ended the race with a top 10 point scoring position and picked up points in eighth place. The Scotsman was the sole car left flying the flag for the team after the pair had contact on lap two which did not appear to be the ultimate reason for Adrian Sutil’s retirement.
Raikkonen’s team mate, Romain Grosjean not only started in a top 10 position but also went onto finish the race in one. The French man qualified in sixth place but during the Grand Prix did slip down the pack slightly and secured ninth place for himself. Grosjean is also being investigated by the stewards though like Button, after reportedly using DRS under a yellow flag situation on lap 24.
Nico Hulkenberg was the final man to finish in the top 10 and pick up a Championship point at the end of the race. The German driver was the sole Sauber remaining in the Grand Prix after his team mate, Gutierrez retired from the race after the incident with Sutil.
In addition to the first pair of retirees from the race, Gutierrez and Sutil were joined by Mercedes driver Nico Roserg and Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
Rosberg became the fourth and final retiree of the race on lap 23, when he was spotted back in the garage and getting out of his car. He appeared to be going nowhere fast and afterwards commented that the cause was possibly suspension related which led to his swift exit.
It may only be the third race of the season under the drivers’ belts now, but the action delivered on and off the track so far has certainly not failed to disappoint.
After picking up the race win though, Alonso appears to be showing good form and making current Championship leader, Vettel aware that he is also settling into the new season and getting some first valuable points on the board.
There is also outside competition coming from Raikkonen who seems to be quietly climbing up the standings.
The results so far are very mixed and the competition seems to be hotting up in readiness for the next test, when the drivers and teams will prepare for the Bahrain Grand Prix in just one week.