Chinese Grand Prix – Race Report 2011

The Chinese Grand Prix was by far the most exciting race of the current season, especially for the top-3 drivers. Vettel’s winning straight came to an end with McLaren finally stepping up to the plate performance wise.

The Top-10

Lewis Hamilton soared to the finish, challenging Vettel one-on-one. Sebastian Vettel fought back and even lead the race for a time but had to settle for second place. Mark Webber, who was not able to pass from Q1 yesterday, fought an amazing up-hill battle to finish third.

Jenson Button had a great start, overtaking Vettel, and lead the race for the first half – but during his first pit-stop accidentally drove in front of Red Bull’s garage and lost time, allowing Seb to overtake him on the pit-lane. Button finished fourth. Nico Rosberg also lead the race briefly and eventually finished fifth and on points for the first time this season. With his team-mate Michael Schumacher finishing eighth, recovering from another weak qualifying, it was in all a great day for Mercedes GP.

The Ferraris fought long and hard but didn’t finish too impressively. Felipe Massa regained his sixth position by the end with Fernando Alonso falling two positions down and finishing seventh.

Once again the final scoring cars were a Sauber and a Renault. However, while Kamui Kobayashi‘s tenth place was the result of a solid, aggressive drive, Vitaly Petrov and the Renault team seemed to have dropped the ball big time, with the Viborg Rocket only finishing ninth (one position higher than qualifying), and all this after two podium finishing races.

The Golden Pineapple Award

Paul di Resta adds to Force India’s pineapple tally. Having qualified eighth in the qualifying and barely scored points in the last two races, di Resta’s performance today was unimpressive. Hopefully Force India will get its act together for Turkey.

Drop-out count: 1

Amazingly only one driver retired from the race. Jaime Alguersuari’s right rear wheel came off soon after he left the pit-lane. Alguersuari’s race had not been going well up to that point, but considering he drove his best qualifying so far, it’s a shame he wasn’t able to finish due to the carelessness of his pit-crew.

Back of the Lot News

For the new teams, it was the same old, same old – with the exception of Heikki Kovalainen leaving Sauber’s Sergio Perez and William’s Pastor Maldonado in his dust. Perez, however, had an accident early on which dropped him back but it’s looking extremely bleak, not just for Maldonado but for the whole Williams team. Granted, the returnée Sauber Team wasn’t able to score its first championship points last season until seven races in, but Williams were scoring points last season from the first race onward. Both Williams cars had weak showings.

The most impressive rise from the back lot was obviously that of Mark Webber (who started from grid-18) as discussed above. Adrian Sutil from Force India got lapped, and after qualifying for ninth yesterday, Sebastian Buemi finished at a puzzlingly weak 14th place. Both of these drivers are capable of better results and I certainly hope they’ll rise to the occasion in Turkey.

Edit: As it turned out, Sutil’s poor performance was due to an extra pitstop after he crashed with Perez. Sorry, I don’t know how I missed that.