Grand Prix 2011 Chinese Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

So on to China, with the teams only having a few days rest after Malaysia. Last year Red Bull dominated qualifying with Christian Horner describing Vettel’s pole lap as “phenomenal”.

Come the race, however, changeable weather caught out both the Red Bull drivers and Lewis Hamilton as they pitted early expecting heavy rain. This left Jenson Button, who chose not to go in for inters, in the lead and he, along with Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica who also stayed out on slicks, showed that it’s all about being on the right tyres at the right time.

The race should also be remembered for what looked like an astonishing start from Fernando Alonso. I watched it in an Italian hotel and the crowd literally went wild, only for the assembled throng to mope to the bar a few minutes later as Alonso was given a drive through penalty for jumping the start.

Button’s more mature tyre strategy won him the race, although he was under pressure late on from Hamilton, and the team scored their first 1-2 since Monza 2007 with Rosberg taking third for Mercedes.

2011 has been a Red Bull Fest, or perhaps more accurately a Vettel Fest, so far with the young German taking pole and race wins in the first two Grands Prix whilst his team mate has struggled with various car problems and, might I postulate, some psychological scarring from last season. McLaren are much closer than pre-season testing indicated they would be and Renault have surprised everyone with 3rd spot at both races and an ability to get off the start line reminiscent of the Benetton launch control system.

Ferrari are nowhere near where they feel they should and there will be many tired faces in their pit garage as managers and engineers flit backwards and forwards between Europe and the Far East trying to understand what is going on. Similarly Mercedes are still not even close to where they expect to be whilst Sauber and Force India are looking good for minor placings, dicing with the Toro Rosso’s.

Toward the back, Williams (it hurts me to say) look to have taken 1 step forward and 2 back with their new car and are now competing with Team Lotus to be the best of the worst. Virgin appear not to have moved any further forward compared to 2010 and HRT, despite no pre-season testing, look to have a car which, once a bit more sorted, might get ahead of them. I suppose the question there is can they sort the car?

Oh, I nearly forgot tyres. 55 pit stops in Malaysia, more marbles than a game of KerPlunk and rubber wearing out faster than Russell Brand’s bed sheets. No sign of the wet tyres yet, will Shanghai throw us a surprise (sorry, had to slip that in)

For Galahad's excellent circuit write-up, see here: http://cliptheapex.com/pages/shanghai-international-circuit/
 

Pyrope

Podium Finisher
Supporter
Schumacher was a cheat.

I think you just answered your own question there. The more I see of Vettel on track, the more like Schumi MkII he begins to look. Yes, out of the helmet he is affability and humour personified, but once he pulls the visor down he has more than a hint of that 'win or die trying kill the other guy' attitude that Schumacher developed to a fine pitch over the years.
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
In my opinion, we have seen 2 decent enough races, however we have seen Vettel run away and establish a 2 second lead on lap 1 and that is it for the rest of the race. I have no particular gripe against him and don't not want him to win. The more the merrier in fact. But so far in 2011 we have had no real on track battle for the lead.
 

Incubus

Champion Elect
Well I do follow Moto GP but I don't remember those... jumping in the pond with helmet and racing gear on, surely that's a breach of health and safety regulations isn't it?
banana_smiley_26.gif
 

Pyrope

Podium Finisher
Supporter
Oh right, but yeah, i don't see why an era of dominance by one driver/constructor combo should be seen as boring. Just means they've done a better job.

Couldn't agree more. I remember 1992 for two things: Mansell running away and hiding at the start of pretty much every race (shades of 2009 and 2011...?); and the constant needle and battles further down the field between Senna and Schumacher. The former was interesting enough, but the latter was fascinating.

Most of the problems come when whoever is controlling your GP watching experience doesn't have a clue what they were doing. The 1990s and early 2000s were blighted by inexperienced local directors controlling the TV feed, not really understanding what they were watching, and just focussing on the leader or the local hero. Since FOM took over directorial duties for all except a few GPs things have got much better. (There, I said something nice about BCE et al. Don't get used to it!)

Of course, if you attend races live you get to choose who to concentrate on yourself. One of the most enthralling and interesting races I saw was at Donington a few years ago. A Lola Mk1 and Cooper Bobtail were duking it out in a historic race. Lap after lap they were within an old-fasioned fag paper of one another, switching places at almost every corner, slipstreaming, diving up the inside into the Old Hairpin, you name it. They finished less than a car length apart, it was fantastic! They were duelling over 6th place. A couple of Listers, a D-Type, a Toj D-type and something else I forget having hared off into the lead. I don't remember who won, but those two little blue cars were special.
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
Not to belabor this point TBY, but I've never sensed a hint of true animosity towards Vettel on this site. For sure I love making cracks about the guy as much as the next poster, and although I cannot speak for everyone, my comments about Vettel/RBR/Front Wings are made in bit of a tongue in cheek manner as I begrudgingly accept the fact that they have outperformed every team in every area of Grand Prix racing this year.

Fastest car in the field, cutting-edge carbon fibre manipulation, masterful pit-stops, ideal strategy calls, reigning World Champion, storied racing herita... What's not to love?
 

F1Yorkshire

Avatar for sale to the highest bidder
Contributor
I've been thinking about the whole Red Bull/Vettel animosity.

We've got used to always having a 'bad guy' in Formula 1 ever since the dominant Schumacher days, Alonso and Briatore took over as the pantomine villains for a few seasons and now in Horner and Vettel a new partnership has emerged. There is no real hatred against them but in British culture we've always had the good and bad sides and they have fit into that role quite well. Horner acts in an untrusting way during his interviews so it is easy to use that characteristc against him, the same is true of Vettel and his finger celebrations.

The whole situation seems to be a bit like Dastardly and Mutley from wacky races. On one hand you have the crazy schemes to get out in front and then you have the general distrust in their actions.

We should be proud of Red Bull and what they have acheived in such a short time. They were originally Stewart and then Jaguar, two of the great names in British motorsport, the team today consists of mainly British engineers and designers.
Technically they are Austrian due to the majority shareholder but Red Bull in essence are as British as McLaren, Williams and Virgin.

I'm always going to prefer the boys from Woking over the team from Milton Keynes and I think I can speak for most of us when our negative comments against Red Bull are mainly in jest. We all know the real villain in F1 is the man with the money controlling it all.
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
Really the only thing that annoyed me about Red Bull was the way they handled the Turkey/Silverstone affair last year.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Good point.

Although I'm not sure a thread about "why I do/don't like Vettel" is a particularly good idea :D
Still, it's a free country site so anyone's entitled to start one.

I expect the Chinese GP thread on a forum such as this in Germany, Spain, Italy, etc. is ever so slightly different ;)

It always surprises me when people are surprised that there is partisan support in F1.
It's the closest thing there is to global motorsport so it's not that much different to supporting your national team really.

Hmmm, in fact I think I will start a thread as it's an interesting subject.
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Just out of interest, what does everyone make of Virgin's start to the year? There was only half a second between d'Ambrosio and Liuzzi although 2 seconds between Glock and Karthikeyan. With HRT this close what's going wrong at Virgin or am I being too harsh?
 

F1Yorkshire

Avatar for sale to the highest bidder
Contributor
Just out of interest, what does everyone make of Virgin's start to the year? There was only half a second between d'Ambrosio and Liuzzi although 2 seconds between Glock and Karthikeyan. With HRT this close what's going wrong at Virgin or am I being too harsh?

It's a simple case of there is only so much you can do with limited funds. Do we know what 1Malaysia's budget is in comparison to Virgin and HRT?
 

RickD

Pole Sitter
To answer TBY, yes Vettel is a good driver as long as he has no-one in front of him, but that doesn't alter the fact that he doesn't seem to be able to overtake for toffee. His attempts last year at Silverstone were simply reminicent of the BTCC and laked even that finesse..

Right, back on topic.. ABV.. :thumbsup:
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Button is talking McLaren up for China: "Jenson Button believes McLaren will be even closer to pace-setters Red Bull Racing in China this weekend - and thinks it could be on course for a 'fun' race if it can get a clean start against Sebastian Vettel."

I presume he means during the race as you can't get much closer than a tenth in qualifying.

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/90692
 
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