April 18, 2016

2016 Chinese GP Executive Summary

Tuned in for and F1 race and a touring car race broke out?

By any standard the 2016 Chinese GP was one of the most exciting races in a long time.  Crashes, passes, blowouts, bits falling off cars...the works

The race started with the promise of excitement when Lewis Hamilton had to take a five spot penalty for a changed gearbox but it got even wilder after qualifying one the world champion was relegated to last place by an engine issue and Daniel Ricciardo put the Red Bull on the front row next to Rosberg and ahead of the Ferraris.

Pass the popcorn!

Another less than perfect Mercedes start,  Rosberg  hampered by his choice of the Soft Pirelli vs everyone else's Super Soft. and then the first corner fracas between Raikkonen, Vettel and Kyat.

Vettel was pretty upset but

A:  he would have done the same thing and has done the same thing in the past.
B:  you don't win that argument,  if there's a hole a racer will go through it and he know it.
And finally,
C: perhaps he should have been more upset at Kimi.   Look at the replays, Raikkonen sees Rosberg begin to understeer and dives for an inside line in front of Seb.    But then he loses grip and locks up, probably because he saw he was a bit too greedy and was going to hit the Mercedes.   That leaves a gap Vettel goes for.    But Vettel is also pushing wide enough to leave room for the Red Bull and it's obviously superior grip to give it a go.  As Vettel turns right, Kimi also cuts back in front of him.  at that point it was three into one and someone was going to lose.   Vettel saying Kvyat was never going to make the corner makes little sense I'm afraid since he actually did, without touching anyone.

Anyway, great drama and great drives from both him and Kimi.   If I were in charge I would have a talk with the aero guys,  that Ferrari seemed to be able to follow cars just fine even without a substantial portion of its front wing gone.

But for the third straight race we are left to wonder how Ferrari would do if they had a "normal" race.

Is the Mercedes weak in dirty air?

Rosberg certainly never had that problem this week end but Lewis struggled.   Yes, I know Mercedes claimed major damage to aero parts due to that first lap contact but the Ferrari's were losing bits left and right and did quite well in close quarters.   Lewis in the first part of the race set some fastest laps so the aero damage could not have been as devastating as he would have you believe.
Food for thought anyway.

Red Bulls are back

Mighty impressive performance by the "Ce n'est pas une Renault" powered Red Bulls.  How would the race have played out without that second lap puncture for Ricciardo?

Williams?  Bonus points for Felipe Massa's dad cheering when his son kept Lewis behind. Another very unimpressive race for Bottas.  Ferrari picked the right Finn.

There was a mirage of performance from McLaren but in the end, just that.

Verstappen,  you got to love the guy,  he completely humiliated both Hulkenberg and Bottas with identical moves in the same corner.    The guy is such a great racer.   Sainz is quick but he lacks the killer instant to make those low percentage passes and clear traffic.   It took him over two laps to pass Bottas after Max went through.

Rosberg now has a 26 point lead over Hamilton,  he can afford to DNF and would still be in the lead. Long season for sure but it must give Hamilton pause  and the Hamfosi a reason to invoke conspiracy theories?

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