Grand Prix 2015 Chinese Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

How we all feeling folks? F1 is off to China! After the doom and despondency following Australia, Malaysia seems to have picked everybody right up. Who could have possibly predicted that a win for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari would have been so welcomed? But China is a track which will probably better suit the Mercedes and if the technicians back in Brackley do a half decent job on the strategy it's still hard to see past a Merc 1-2. The big question is car 44 or 6.

The Ferrari's will be best of the rest and will certainly push the Mercs hard. Raikkonen's drive back to fourth in Malaysia was a bit overlooked but seems to indicate that he has found some speed and joy in F1. Although his mono-syllabic answers in the mix area after qualifying were pure Kimi.

Williams are not where they are supposed to be, keeping other cars off the tails of the Mercedes. They are the class of the customer Mercedes customer cars but I have a feeling the Lotus boys might knock them off that perch before the end of the season.

Next up will be a battle between Toro Rosso and Sauber. Another "Really?" moment for F1. Sauber looked to be all over the place in 2014, for 2015 they have sorted things out and look to have a couple of half decent drivers (assuming they keep it on the track for the whole race). Chasing the Saubers down with be Chilli Sainz and the new Wunderkind for Red Bull, Max Verstappen. Personally, I've been astonished at the maturity of his driving and how he conducts himself with the media let's hope he keeps it up as he looks every inch an F1 driver despite his lack of years and Carlos certainly hasn't been embarrassed by the whipper snapper, taking points in both of the opening races.

On to the next battle: Force India versus Red Bull. The powers that be at Red Bull really should shut up moaning about the engine, given what their sister team is achieving with the same motor, and look at sorting the car. The Honey Badger mugged a few people in Malaysia and still look quite racy, even if the car isn't up to much. Danni Kyvat has been strangely anonymous (I should point out that I have only seen highlights of the last two races). Force India are still struggling to get their new car up to speed but I suspect will pick up a few points in China. If Checo and Nico manage a whole race without running in to someone else or picking up time penalties they may start to trouble the top 10 on a regular basis

Finally, the battle at the back: Mclaren versus Manor Marussia. Oh dear. Neither car has a sponsor of note. Both have engines designed for last year. Both have an Anglo-Spanish driving partnership. The difference, for me at least is that Manor should be congratulated for even managing to build a car on their meager resources whilst McLaren (and Honda) should hang their heads in shame for providing two World Champions with one of the worst cars in McLaren's history. This machine makes the McLaren Peugeot look like a race winner.

A final statistic for all you stat addicts. Hamilton has won here 3 times, Ferrari 4 times. Can Lewis Match Ferrari's win count or will the red menace steam ahead of the lad from Stevenage?
China is cooler this time of year, no? The Mercedes should be better suited for these temperatures than the Ferrari so I expect we will see the order as Lewis, Nico, Seb, Felipe, Kimi, Daniel, Valterri, Daniil, Max, Carlos, Romain, Jenson, Fernando, Marcus, Sergio, Pastor, Roberto

China in a nutshell...
Vettel never won here in a year he took the championship. That has to be about the only track he didn't win at in a title year right?

It did score Red Bulls first ever win here though.
Vettel never won here in a year he took the championship. That has to be about the only track he didn't win at in a title year right?

He's never won at the Hungaroring, either. Can't be many circuits that Red Bull haven't scored a win in five years at, though!
With the change of brakes and lower temperatures, I expect the Bulls to much more of a factor, and that they will leave the TRs in the dust.
So Mercedes powered cars have won 5 of the last 7 and locked out the podium twice. Probably more of the same this weekend if Malaysia was just a blip but here's hoping Ferrari can run them close.
Well, they can chop and change as much as they like without penalty as long as they don't use more than 5 of any part of the power unit (engine/turbo/MGU-K/MGU-H/batteries/electronics). What I think you're asking is how much they can do to repair a previously used part of the engine. I'm not sure what the exact answer is but I think there's a fair amount that's allowed as part of what's considered normal maintenance/regular changes for reliability reasons.

Also, we'll find out if McLaren had to use any new units early on in the China weekend. The FIA releases the information (I have a thread on the stats forum to follow it). They didn't have to use a new unit after Magnussen's failure on the way to the grid in Melbourne, for example.
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