Chinese GP - No miracle cure for Ferrari
Definitely less predictable was the actual finishing order, because for the first time this year, victory did not go to Sebastian Vettel, but to Lewis Hamilton instead. The championship leader took second place ahead of team-mate Mark Webber, the author of an electrifying drive, making up fifteen places after starting from eighteenth on the grid. With an extended three week break before the next race in Turkey, when the Scuderia hopes to introduce some significant modifications to the 150º Italia, perhaps the Prancing Horse can take some encouragement that today’s result at least proves that Red Bull Racing is not unbeatable.
Tyres again played a vital role with the winner pitting three times, although Fernando did not feel the fact he was on a two stop would have made much difference to his final placing. Felipe on the other hand did concede that an additional tyre change might have allowed him to fight off a few more of those who got past him in the final stages, while adding he felt this was his best race drive for quite some time.
The two McLarens passed Vettel at the start and these three pulled away from Rosberg and the Ferraris led by Felipe who got past his team-mate shortly after the start. The Brazilian was particularly competitive, running as high as second with the run of pit stops, while Fernando seemed to spend the entire race fighting Schumacher: the early battle was the one that did the damage as it came after the Spaniard’s first pit stop and stuck behind the Mercedes, he lost touch with the leaders.
Then towards the end of the race, it was Schumacher, now behind the Ferrari, who was trying to pass, but without success. Running the hard tyre for their final stint, both Felipe and Fernando were experiencing some significant degradation which meant the Brazilian had to see other cars come flying past him, while the Spaniard hung on with plenty of determination to that seventh spot.
Rosberg proved just how competitive was the Mercedes this weekend as a lap 12 pit stop put him out in clean air and while the leading trio seemed to be tripping over one another, it allowed him to lead for a large chunk of the 56 laps. Hamilton had other ideas though, passing Button on lap 35 before getting the edge on Rosberg, who would finish fifth and with 12 laps to go, he got by Felipe on the straight.
The McLaren man finally demoted Vettel from his accustomed lead with just four laps remaining, while further back, Webber was on a charge, which would end with a fine third place. It was a thrilling battle for a larger than usual crowd here in Shanghai. Behind the two Ferraris, the final points went to eighth placed Schumacher, followed by Petrov and Kobayashi.
So that’s the first three races, the first trio of “flyaways” done and dusted. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro is third in the championship, but big improvements are needed and that is exactly what the team is working on for the next round in Istanbul, Turkey at the beginning of May.