2011 Chinese Grand Prix - Review

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
Michael Schumacher's run of wins was ended in a race where he sat on pole in 2001 by a British driver in a McLaren, in the third race of the season. 10 years later something extremely similar occured.

And on Saturday, Vettel was 7 tenths clear. 5 laps from home he was leading. But Red Bull's race pace is never as good as their qualifying pace, and Lewis Hamilton was on newer tyres.

It is interesting that none of Lewis' race winning overtakes past Massa, Button, Rosberg and Vettel were in the DRS zone. His ability to bounce back from a poor race was again proved exceptional.

It is rare indeed for Button to outqualify Hamilton, and he will be disappointed by the fact his team-mate jumped him in the race. He also marked Charlie Chaplin's birthday yesterday with a moment of slapstick in the pit lane when he pulled into the wrong garage!

Webber, meanwhile, showed that qualifying poorly is fine if you've got all your tyres. On fresh rubber, his fastest lap was 1.4s clear of the next best as he came marauding through the field on his 3 fresh sets of options. From a moronic P18, he finished only a couple of seconds behind his polesitting team-mate.

Ross Brawn, meanwhile, continues to show his strategic brilliance. Mercedes' early stops saw Schumacher vault up to 6th position, and Rosberg to appear in the lead! It was unlikely that Nico would ever have the pace of the McLarens and he finished in "best of the rest" position in 5th. Schumacher was much better, but still compares unfavourably to his team-mate.

Ferrari went the wrong way on strategy and took the two-stop route. Felipe Massa was able to be in 2nd place after the third stops of the various silver cars and fell to 6th position after a race where he probably maximised his possibilities. His team-mate, Fernando Alonso, was much slower and fought with Schumacher in the next group, lucky to get over the line ahead of him in 7th. It is the first time since the start of 2010 that Felipe has looked as good in comparison to his team-mate.

The promise of Lotus Renault in the first two races was not in evidence in Shanghai. A mad, damaging practice session was ill-preparation. The car of Petrov stopping in Q2 caught out Heidfeld more than anyone else; at least Singapore 2008 is behind them! The Russian took the points for 9th, Heidfeld looked poor. Mr. Consistency has looked anything but.

Tenth was another points score for the continually impressive Kamui Kobayashi. He carried the Sauber flag after his team-mate played dodgems and the resulting penalty put him behind the Team Lotus of Kovalainen.

Yet again, pending a steward's decision, Paul di Resta looked the best of the Force. Adrian Sutil, unchallenged in that seat for the last 3 years, needs to look over his shoulder at Hulkenburg, and he needs to start competing better with di Resta!

Toro Rosso's double Q3 was far more promising than their race. Buemi seemed to have been overtaken by a hell of a lot of people in the race, and a 13th place finish was not brilliant. Jaime Alguersuari's wandering wheel was a daft mistake, and left him as the only car not running at the end.

Williams were 2 seconds clear of Team Lotus in qualifying, but Maldonado was beaten by Kovalainen on pace. When Juan Pablo Montoya edged Kimi Raikkonen in the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix, did we see Williams last victory? It seems to be getting worse every year. Barrichello was able to beat Buémi, and Trulli took up his customary position of 5th-last finisher.

In back of the grid news, d'Ambrosio outqualified and outraced Glock, while Liuzzi passed Karthikeyan at the end despite his penalty for jumping the start. They all finished 2 laps down, but we're not talking 107% any more!

So despite the car being reassembled on the grid, McLaren and Hamilton took a well-deserved win. DRS worked well, Pirelli's tyres spiced things up more than Bridgestone can dream, and Vettel isn't going to win all the races. He still took those 18 points though, but today the second team got its strategy right, and took the laurels.
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
Great report TBY, the more it goes on, it seems as if Williams won't be winning. The flotation hasn't been a particular success and both drivers have been mediocre at best. Even points seem a long way away and now they are being outraced by Team lotus. Barring a miracle (or major rule changes a la 2009) I cant see Williams winning again in Frank Williams lifetime.
 

Pyrope

Podium Finisher
Supporter
I cant see Williams winning again in Frank Williams lifetime.

Well... certainly not within the lifetime of Sam Michael's contract. Williams's serious dip in form directly correlates to his tenure in the top engineering job. When you consider how many superb engineers had their start or made their names under Patrick Head it is clear that Sam just doesn't have the same eye for talent spotting.

As for this race, it would seem that Webber had the perfect strategy, which was very logical if you think about it: hard tyres when the loads are high, soft tyres when fuel is low and speeds are high. It surprised me that more of the three-stoppers left the hard tyre for their last stint.
 

snowy

Champion Elect
Webber's strategy was logical if you have a very quick car and three sets of brand new option tyres. For most of the teams further down the grid it was necessary for them to expend their option tyres during qualifying. They have to count on being fortunate and make up places at the beginning of the race. Rather than sacrificing places early on so they can be strong at the end. It is no use having a pristine set of options for your final stint when your nearest opponent is 20 seconds down the road and your car is fundamentally slow.
 

Andyoak

Race Winner
Well... certainly not within the lifetime of Sam Michael's contract. Williams's serious dip in form directly correlates to his tenure in the top engineering job. When you consider how many superb engineers had their start or made their names under Patrick Head it is clear that Sam just doesn't have the same eye for talent spotting.

As for this race, it would seem that Webber had the perfect strategy, which was very logical if you think about it: hard tyres when the loads are high, soft tyres when fuel is low and speeds are high. It surprised me that more of the three-stoppers left the hard tyre for their last stint.
Seems that the rumours are his contract won't be for very much longer according to MSN - http://crashnet.cars.msn.co.uk/news_View.asp?cid=11&id=168404
I really want to see william's come good again but unfortunately I'm in agreement; under sam's stewardship they seen to have lost focus on where they need to improve.
I'm not convinced its down to budget and its not wholey engineering - more development in the right areas.
As for drivers, another common complaint levelled at Frank, well sauber and others have proved that you can still get good new and cheap drivers but you've got to give them a reason them want to drive for you.
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
Here I was, thinking that McLaren had nailed the strategy for this race, only to find out that it was Button's daydreaming that most likely won the day. It took not one, but two errors by Jenson to force McLaren's hand.

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/90873

"It was pretty calamitous, simple way of looking at it, we were first and second and we were whatever fifth and sixth [actually seventh] after the first stops, so at that point we knew we had to do something different. That partly prompted the view that we had to change strategy. In the end, that would be the right way to go."
 

Chad Stewarthill

Champion Elect
Contributor
Here I was, thinking that McLaren had nailed the strategy for this race, only to find out that it was Button's daydreaming that most likely won the day. It took not one, but two errors by Jenson to force McLaren's hand.
At least they saw that things were not going to work out, and more importantly had the gumption to make the change, unlike a couple of other teams I could mention.
Hats off to Mclaren I say; whatever triggered their ingenuity, they were still ingenious and it won them the race (with the help of a young guy from Stevenage, of course!).
 

snowy

Champion Elect
It is actually extremely depressing that McLaren were planning to just stop twice. It means that Lewis' qualifying strategy was a totally meaningless gesture. Having saved a set of brand new option tyres they proceeded to compound their woeful strategy by putting those tyres on for his third stint. Having changed their plan they scheduled this run on brand new option tyres to last just ten laps!
 

Chad Stewarthill

Champion Elect
Contributor
There's a Reuters report http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/04/18/motor-racing-prix-idUKLDE73H1ZO20110418?pageNumber=1
which claims that Hamilton had decided himself, before qualifying even, to go for a three-stop strategy regardless of whether a two-stop strategy seemed more logical to others. Does this make any sense, or is it just him claiming credit after the event? He undeniably kept an extra set of options back deliberately, by only doing one run in Q3.
 

snowy

Champion Elect
If Lewis forgot to tell or discuss three stopping with the team that would be a bit of an error. Still you can't put it past them, their thinking hasn't been exactly what I would call "joined up".
 

FB

Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
As Vettel proved you can't rely on cockpit technology to be able to communicate with the pits and, as we all know, pit boards only work one way. Had his radio packed up I wonder how he planned to tell the team he was 3 stopping, just drive in and whistle?
 

snowy

Champion Elect
Phil Prew, McLaren's principle race engineer obviously knew nothing of Lewis' cunning plan...

Phil Prew said:
"Overall we went into it with a clear two-stop intention, which I think a lot of people did. We adapted to three stops just in time, because we could see tyre degradation was going to be significant, we didn't think we could safely do two stops, just looking at what other cars were doing."

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/90873
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
Communication seemed to be lacking from Mclaren with both drivers during the race. I would imagine 3 stops would be the norm again in Turkey, after all Turn 8 will shred those tyres.
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
Communication seemed to be lacking from Mclaren with both drivers during the race. I would imagine 3 stops would be the norm again in Turkey, after all Turn 8 will shred those tyres.

Lewis made a 3 stop strategy work in Turkey in 2008 because of his tyre wear issues.
 
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