One of my favorite races of the year is the Chinese Grand Prix which in 2013 was equally full of surprises and as exciting as races I’ve watched have been in the past. Fernando Alonso wins his first win in the 2013 Championship after a flawless race.
The opening of the race was interesting as Lewis Hamilton started on pole and though managing to hold back his competitors in the first few laps, he lacked pace compared with Ferrari and Red Bull becoming easy meat to pass. It was interesting though to see a long line of cars backed up at the start where it took sometime before anyone could pass Hamilton.
Both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa performed an excellent sandwich style pass on Lewis Hamilton as they both overtook him from both sides simultaneously which demonstrated good teamwork. The two Force India cars clashed in the opening laps causing some damage to both cars which is somewhat of a recurring theme during this season so far. Paul di Resta was luckier as Adrian Sutil retired from the race after being hit from behind later in the race by Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez which destroyed Sutil’s race. Sutil drove into the Pitts in an attempt to receive a new rear wing but it was too difficult to remove and a fire broke out in the car which meant game over for the recent return of Sutil. As for Gutierrez, his race was also over and the Stewards also handed him a five place grid penalty for causing the accident which he will carry on to the next race at the Bahrain circuit.
Mark Webber had a terrible day, retiring after a series of incidents. Firstly, he collided with Jean Eric Vergne from the sister Red Bull Team, STR Ferrari by attempting to make the apex of the corner, only to run into the side of Vergne’s car. The clash was a racing incident really caused by lack of space on the corner but Webber was handed a three grid place penalty for the next race at Bahrain. After one of his Pitt stops on circuit, his wheel came off the car and just about managed to knock his teammate, Sebastian Vettel out of the race! Incredible considering Vettel isn’t in his good books at the moment. Even before the race began, he had only qualified in 14th position but had more bad luck as his car failed to provide a one litre sample after qualifying. A miserable weekend all around for Webber.
Further front wing damage was seen as Finnish Kimi Raikkonen was battling away with Sergio Perez where they clashed and a segment of Raikkonen’s front wing was damaged. Despite this, he continued to race and got his car into second place! Sergio Perez’s driving style is too aggressive at the moment and he really needs to calm down when battling with other drivers or he is going to have an accident with another car or even teammate based on previous races.
Nico Rosberg had a bad day, retiring for a second time with a suspension problem. Is it just me or does the Mercedes team always have a car that is really unreliable? I’m thinking back to when Michael Schumacher was racing. The McLarens are looking stronger yet are still struggling for pace. They should really be fighting with Ferrari, Red Bull and Lotus yet at the moment are fighting with Force India and the Saubers.
Looking at the statistics, it was a strong day for Ferrari with both their drivers finishing within the top ten and Felipe Massa scoring some good valuable points for the team. I feel that if Massa can keep consistently finishing races, he will be able to challenge at the front and perhaps fight with his teammate for the honor of being the number 1 driver although I feel Alonso is a better driver than Massa. It’s good to see Massa though near the front of the pack rather than in the middle which he was at the start of last year’s season.
Team Lotus had another good day at China with their two drivers getting into the top ten scoring some points which will help them towards winning both championships. Kimi Raikkonen is showing excellent form this year, much stronger than he was at the start of last year’s season. Romain Grosjean although shadowing Raikkonen’s performance is picking up points and helping the team gain those all important points needed to win the Constructor’s Championship. I feel though that Grosjean isn’t ready yet to win his first Championship which may be achievable if he keeps improving his racing as this season unfolds, perhaps in 2014 who knows.
A dreadful day for Sauber with one point as consolation from Nico Hulkenberg while their other new driver, Esteban Gutierrez crashed into the back of Force India’s Adrian Sutil retiring the Sauber from the race. Sauber are having a terrible start to the season compared with where they were last year, they really need to get their act together.
The highlight of the race was the closing lap where Vettel made his final Pitt where Lewis Hamilton was told that Vettel would be exiting very close to him. Hamilton had a battle on his hands to finish third as his tires were not fresh. Vettel had a few opportunities to pass Hamilton but just couldn’t get there. Hamilton had traffic from lapped cars in front of him and could be heard screaming on the radio to blue flag the back markers. Vettel had one massive opportunity to pass but made two small errors, losing grip all of a sudden and ended up missing out, finishing in fourth position by a whisker.