#F1 Race Report: 2014 #ChineseGP – Hamilton canters home as Rosberg fights back

Brought to you by TheJudge13 reporter Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)

The rain of the previous day was long gone as the Mercedes cars showed once more the battle this will be left for best of the rest.  Nico Rosberg encountered problems with telemetry; tyre marbles stuck in the front wing and a first lap contact with Valtteri Bottas, but still managed to recover to 2nd demonstrating the might of the Silver Arrows.

Off the grid

Fernando Alonso made his customary flying start, catapulting himself up into 3rd position after the first corner, save for a contact with Felipe Massa who played a dangerous game of weaving through the starting traffic down into the first corner.  The Brazilian could count himself fortunate to still be running given the force of the impact with his former teammate, although little did he know what was to come later.

At the end of the first lap Lewis Hamilton had pulled out a 1.514 second lead on the chasing Sebastian Vettel, with the Briton’s teammate down in 6th.  The misery of Bahrain looked set to continue for the McLaren boys as they continued to struggle compared to the other Mercedes cars languishing outside the top 10.

An easy pull away from Hamilton as he never looked back

An easy pull away from Hamilton as he never looked back

Nico Rosberg tried to fight back through the field, but took until lap 4 to overtake Massa who had been holding up Rosberg on the previous lap.  With Rosberg now up to 5th, his fightback to 2nd could commence into some free air allowing him to hunt down the two Red Bulls and Alonso ahead.

Lewis Hamilton continued to pull away from the chasing pack, as Alonso’s front left tyre showed some graining relatively early on (lap 5).  Hamilton’s former friend, Adrian Sutil, failed to make it past lap 5 with accident forcing him into a retirement for a third weekend in a row.  A penny for his thoughts would be invaluable right now to see his former team, Force India, fighting at the front of the grid as he currently fights to merely finish a race.

No challenge – no problems

Lewis Hamilton continued to control the race from the front as he reported that graining was “not causing any problems”  even though the rest of the field were reporting tyre wear to be an issue.  Nico Hulkenberg continued to catch Felipe Massa, as the German hunted down another top 6 place.  On lap 8 Jenson Button was the first driver to box for a scheduled stop, seemingly going onto a 3 stop strategy as he took on the slower but more durable medium tyre.

Lap 10 saw Romain Grosjean pit from 10th position, having made Q3 for the first time this year.  The following lap saw the concertina effect of one driver pitting triggering Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa to also dive into the pits.  The latter had a disastrous stop with tyres not being ready as well as his left rear tyre taking a long time to come off the car.  It wrecked his race leaving him firmly down in 21st position.

Lap 12 saw Alonso and Hulkenberg box and rejoin in 7th and 11th position respectively with cars ahead that had still not stopped.  When Vettel pitted and rejoined he lost out to Fernando Alonso due to the undercut and the Spaniard never looked back.  Hampered by the poor straight line speed (22kmph slower than others) meant that track position was always going to be of paramount importance for the Milton Keynes cars.

Daniil Kvyat and Jean-Eric Vergne stayed out for an extremely long stint on their first set of tyres, which would pay dividends later in the race.  Lap 16 finally saw Daniel Ricciardo pit and rejoin in 5th place, just behind his teammate.  With all other cars having taken their first stops by now, Lewis Hamilton was enjoying a 31.376 second lead on lap 17, but was forced to pit a lap later with the rubber on his Pirellis wearing thin by now.

A 2.9 second stop meant no dramas for the man from Stevenage, who comfortably rejoined in first place.  At the same time Rosberg hunted down the now sitting duck Sebastian Vettel in 3rd place, easily passing him with DRS and the greater straight line speed.  1 lap later and it was the turn of Daniel Ricciardo to challenge the 4 time World Champion.  When Vettel was told to let the Australian through, he first asked what tyre he was on before responding with “Tough Luck” when finding out they were on the same tyre.

Rocky, Vettel’s engineer soon put him into line with Vettel letting Ricciardo through at the first corner.  While the McLarens continued to fight, with Kevin Magnussen passing Gutierrez for 14th they showed little promise of breaking into the points.  Rosberg continued to go in search of a 2nd place in what had turned into a weekend of damage limitation for him.

On lap 28 the bad luck continued for Romain Grosjean who had lost 4th gear and continued to lose more until his retirement a lap later, at the same time as Vettel struggled with his tyres but was told to stay out and endure the pain eventually switching to a 2 stop strategy.  Lap 34 would see Vettel’s frustration at an all-time high as Kamui Kobayashi took the opportunity to unlap himself on fresher rubber.

The impressive rookie display continues

In what became somewhat of a procession towards the end, all the front running cars pitted with no major dramas for any of them.  At lap 40 the impressive start for Daniil Kvyat looked set to continue for another points finish, now 3 from his first 4 Grand Prix.

Lap 43 saw Rosberg take 2nd place from Fernando Alonso in what had seemed inevitable for some time prior to the overtaking move.  Rosberg had made it up alongside of the Spaniard even before the DRS zone.  Alonso managed the gap back to Ricciardo to claim a welcomed podium for all at Maranello, even though the man from Perth got close towards the end.

Never one to miss out on the action, Pastor Maldonado briefly held up Ricciardo which cost him somewhere in the region of half a second.

The final laps saw the biggest fight for 6th and 7th between Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas in a repeat of the final laps in Melbourne back in March.  This time it was the Hulk who came out on top to hold of the Williams driver.

Sober and sultry

The post-race holding room prior to going out to the podium was a dour affair with the tension between the two Mercedes drivers palpable.  Rosberg managed to grimace and carry a smile on the podium, but the disappointment was seemingly impossible to hide as Rosberg’s Championship lead was cut to 4 points following a dominant display from Hamilton.

There will be a lot more to come on this battle in the near future.  Not the most interesting race, but it would have taken something remarkable to impress following the excitement of Bahrain previously.  The biggest story to take from the weekend is Ricciardo finishing 25 seconds up the road from Vettel who has some work to do to adapt to the 2014 cars.

The fuel and power graphics showing just how much Lewis was driving within himself this weekend, even after a difficult Friday

The fuel and power graphics showing just how much Lewis was driving within himself this weekend, even after a difficult Friday

Final Thought

It seemed the way the drivers pulled into the parc ferme perfectly demonstrated the way the weekend had gone for the top 3 drivers.  Lewis Hamilton had pushed ahead and never looked back, pushing his position marker even further ahead than it was placed.  He really seemed to be in cruise control towards the end of the race, knowing it was in the bag to take him into the top 10 all time GP race winner with 25.

Nico Rosberg pulled in and was a far less animated figure than that of Hamilton.  2nd place must have felt like a country mile away from his teammate. And finally, the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso pulled into the final position wonkily but he got there in the end.  It may not have been the perfect weekend, but the Spaniard made it there in the end.

As he was oh so keen to point out on the podium, he is now in 3rd place in the Championship which looks to be the most fiercely competed position in the standings.  Whether the Spaniard can deliver the goods in 3 weeks in Barcelona will be a completely different story…

Final Results:

# Driver Ctry Team Time Gap Pits
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:43.059 1:33:28.338 2
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:42.700 18.000 2
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:43.835 23.600 2
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:42.232 27.100 2
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:44.109 47.800 2
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:44.147 54.3 2
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:43.967 55.700 2
8 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:47.000 76.300 2
9 Sergio Perez Force India 1:44.387 82.6 2
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:44.136 1 lap 2
11 Jenson Button McLaren 1:45.101 1 lap 2
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:44.748 1 lap 2
13 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:47.282 1 lap 2
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:44.743 1 lap 2
15 Felipe Massa Williams 1:44.103 1 lap 2
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:44.374 1 lap 3
17 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:46.808 1 lap 3
18 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:47.597 1 lap 2
19 Max Chilton Marussia 1:44.834 2 laps 3
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:47.275 2 laps 3
R Romain Grosjean Lotus RETIRED 26 laps 2
R Adrian Sutil Sauber RETIRED 48 laps 1

World Drivers Championship

2014 Drivers' Championship Graph China

World Constructors Championship

2014 Constructors' Championship Graph China

52 responses to “#F1 Race Report: 2014 #ChineseGP – Hamilton canters home as Rosberg fights back

  1. So due to the checkered flag in the wrong lap the race result only counts that was recorded after the first checkered flag fell… even though they know that it was wrong. that’s weird. Koba loses one place due to this

    • Yes, effectively means it’s red flag conditions after this. Something to be addressed at the next rule change meeting me thinks!

      • Considering it also apparently happened at the 1985 British GP (before we laugh at China), it doesn’t give me faith that the FIA has an ethics clause in it’s contract with FOM for the F1 commercial rights… this is like the safety car debacle all over again (but with no consequences).

      • Not sure I agree. First it happens virtually never (if 1985 is the last time, then there’s not too much of a problem here – today’s race makes it twice in 29 years…). Second, if the checkered flag is shown by mistake (one assumes, purely due to human error) then they HAVE to stop the race – who’s to say that Hamilton (or anyone else who might have seen it) wouldn’t assume the race over and slow down – quite apart from that being unfair, it could also be extremely dangerous.

        I’d say the rules worked perfectly. Yes, it’s unfortunate for anyone who overtook on the “real” last lap, but what practical and safe alternative is there?

    • To be fair there’s not much difference between 17th and 18th. There would’ve been a helluva stink if Danny Ric had passed Fernando on the last lap then been denied the place.

    • I wonder what would’ve happened had the clerk of the course chosen to practice his flag unfurling half way thru the race? As the rules are written that would’ve been red flag and let’s all go home early. Interesting situation!

  2. Nice report, thanks… Especially since my calculations had the race starting 0900 NY time! It did seem strangely late when I was adding it up, but the relief at not having to get up in the middle of the night must have overtaken any sense of “this doesn’t really seem right.”
    Doesn’t seem like it’s worth downloading the bit torrent either…

    • Rather predictable in the end. Thanks, and glad you enjoyed the read.
      (PS Here in Mexico it’s been a very long night, you’ve done well to opt for the sleep instead)

      • Adam, I’ve been meaning to ask, which city are you in? Would love to get together once for a beer and a nice F1 chat.

  3. If it hadn’t have been so noisy I may have easily fallen asleep.. No wait, I did fall asleep, is it over yet?

  4. They said that this new season would be for the thinking driver, many said it would suit nico, because:
    He’s the more cerebral
    He spends more time with his engineers
    He can adapt better to the cars
    He has an engineering back ground

    Blah blah blah!! But somehow he just got his ass handed to him yet again. What makes it worse, is that Lewis hand not run the new setup changes he made in a dry situation, so had no clue how it would be for him. Had it not been for £1 part, he would be sitting on maximum points right now

  5. Got up at 3:00 am to watch the race was back in bed at 3:30 am. Unless there is a race that is on when I’m already up, I won’t watch any more races this year. I’ve been to almost every Canadian GP for the last 30 or so years, and I won’t be going this year. F1 is a joke. I’m glad the FIA can claim F1 is “relevant” to road car manufacturers as It’s no longer relevant for me.

      • To start with the FIA could have allowed engine development through out the season instead of freezing development in February. That way Ferrari and Renault could have had at least a chance of catching up to M-B. As it is now neither have any chance and no matter what Ferrari / Red Bull / Toro Rosso do they’ll never gain 40/50 seconds a race through aero development. The season will be over for the constructors WC after Monaco, at which point many of the teams won’t spend much if any time on development and they’ll concentrate on the 2015 car.

        And if Honda have an engine in 2015 which is 50/75/100HP better than everyone else’s and as the narrow development allowed for 2015 gets frozen again next February we could have McLaren doing exactly what M-B are doing this year.

        You freeze development at the middle / end of an products life cycle, not at the beginning.

        • Would you have said the same if it was the Renault engine in the redbull that had the mercs advantage?

        • Give it a rest, the new engine regs where decided and all the manufacturers had the same amount of time, just because Renault were half assed with there project and Ferrari are, just Ferrari, then who the he’ll is to blame, not the FIA that’s for sure.

          So just because I can’t be bothered to put any effort into revising for a Maths exam, I should be allowed to take a calculator in.

          Everyone knew Merc were eyeing the rule change to make progress, the others should have stepped it up, it’s not like the new regs were a secret, they all had the same opportunity, be angry at Renault and Ferrari being incompetent with their PU design not the FIA for making rules, it’s the Dane for all is it not?

          • That’s not a fair analogy. A more realistic one is a series of exams, but you have to do all the revision before the first one.

          • Adam, that is a better analogy, the point I’m trying to make is pretty much the same, they all had a level playing field and blank sheet of paper. So it’s the same scenario for all 3.

          • That is the case CV, but by not allowing them develop engines for the 2015/16/17 seasons it will do more damage than good for the sport.

            Mercedes will still get their glory and win this year and still have the potential to improve their powertrain for 2015.

            Not allowing them to have a second bite at the cherry will only hurt the sport.

          • @ adamac39

            sorry but I’m with CV on this –

            what ” hurts the sport ” as you put it – is Ferrari and Renault being incompetent.

            And NO they should NOT be given a second chance.

            These rules were laid out 5 ( was it ? ) years ago !

            If they haven’t managed to get their shit together in all that time – TOUGH ….. !

            What it does – is allow other Merc powered – and maybe Honda ? – teams an opportunity for success.

            To me – having Williams or Force India challenging for championships in the future, would be far more interesting than seeing RBR or Ferrari trying to dominate F1 simply because they have a bigger budget.

        • If McLaren do have the best package in 2015 (and Marussia and Caterham are probably scoring podiums in this scenario..), then it could be Button walking to another title, or Magnussen/Vandoorne slinging it out to be the next Hamilton! Alternatively, it could be Alonso mysteriously winning a third title back at McLaren..

        • And don’t let’s forget Mercedes could have continued to develop as well.
          So possibly the status quo may not have turned out to be too much different.

        • Hmmmm, hadn’t taken on board the 2015 development window.

          Guess we can expect to see that mule of Fezzas getting some track time in the coming months.
          Merc reportedly were at it too, so more of the same there.
          Wonder if this season’s wake up call will motivate Renault to get out and about as well? They missed the bus big time first time round. 🙂

      • F1’s advertisers / sponsors and the organizers of the Canadian GP probably do.

          • Part of me wonders if their contract is dependent on Bernie getting a deal together in New Jersey… Canada is one of those great venues now but Bernie would prefer if it was in downtown NYC that’s for sure.

    • Add Cav and CTP to the list of fake fans who don’t watch the races but show up here afterwards to stand on their soap box.

      Turn on the option to allow us to block them and we can continue on with a real discussion of the race.

    • What?
      Did you see the last race yet you still say F1 is Shit….. Not every race will be a classic, just like not every football match is a classic. How you can say that after what we saw in Bahrain is beyond me.
      Tyres have ALWAYS been an issue
      Looking after the machinery has ALWAYS been an issue
      Watching fuel consumption has ALWAYS been an issue
      So what is so different now? There have been seasons where 1 car/team has dominated. If you want to watch a pure drivers series, watch GP2 or another spec series, F1 is different, always has been always will be. You show me a driver who said he drove the whole race at 100% (in any era) and I’ll show you a liar!

  6. Poor Cav, seems the relentless negative energy has even the newbies oblivious to what you think.

    Not one comment, in the 2 years I’ve been on this site, has been remotely positive.

    Anyhoo, thought you might like this……Monty Python – Four Yorkshiremen: http://youtu.be/Xe1a1wHxTyo

  7. Interesting race in many ways, hampered a bit by the poor TV coverage this weekend. We saw the Ricci VS Vettel battle live but other than that they missed all of the other moves.

    Marshalls in China seemed to have a few problems, lots of phantom blue flags, a couple of yellows came out for no reason and of course the checkered flag came out two laps early…

    The big question marks are what is going on with Vettel and Kimi and McLaren (or is it Button)? There are some serious underperformers out there. Vettel hasn’t seemed too far off the pace but as a long term #1 in the team it’s a bit of a shock to see Ricciardo finish 22 seconds up the road unless there was a problem in Vettel’s car.

    And what’s going on at McLaren? They tick all the boxes. WDC driver. Money. Time. Electronics expertise. Wind tunnel. Mercedes engine. Why can’t they put it all together after taking last season off to at least beat the Force India and Williams cars?

    • There are a few things I miss about old school F1 that I wish they would bring back just for the fun of it.

      1. Allow the teams to run a titanium skid plate at the front of the barge board. Sparks over the bumps at the night races would look great.

      2. Use real country flags at the podium instead of those crap TV screens.

      3. Find a way for the man swinging the checkered flag to get out over the track, maybe on the side of the track opposite the pit wall, maybe on a retractable platform.

      4. Allow small teams to buy a customer car and compete for one or two races only. If they can make 107% they are in. This would be great for a small Japanese or Brazilian team to battle in their own home race, or would be a great entry point for a new team to race only the European races in the first year before racing the fly-aways in their second season.

      5. Sample the fuel on the grid before the race and allow the cars to run dry if they get it wrong. If we are going to have a fuel limit then the drama is when cars run out of fuel on track or on the final straight and coast across the line with a car charging behind them.

      6. Turn off telemetry for everyone. They have team radio, lets hear calls both ways about temperatures, fuel levels, engine modes etc.

      7. Get rid of the time delay on team radios and let the TV networks choose what radio messages they hear and when. This simple change would boost the show more than most things on this list. To hear two drivers on the radio in real time as they battle over a place (or argue over team orders, or after a collision) would be amazing.

  8. Vettel cost Ricciardo a good chance at a podium finish. When Ricciardo caught Vettel, Alonso was 8 seconds ahead, by the time Ricciardo finally got by Vettel, Alonso had pulled it out to nearly 14 seconds ahead.

    Nice work there Vettel. Jerk!

    • Ha, I finally had a chance to see the race and this was my biggest observation, that Vettel might’ve cost Ricciardo a podium. That and Nico looked verrrrry unhappy, even though without telemetry that was quite a good drive.

      Interesting contrast between MB and RB re team orders. Also, and I do wonder if this is a bit of payback, the switching of Vettel to a 2 stop from a 3 stop. Seems like they really left him hanging out there for a long time. Dunno, but stormy times in the RB garage for sure.

  9. Pingback: Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 21st April 2014 | thejudge13·

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