The recent news that the organisers of the Chinese GP are uncertain of their commitment to Formula one beyond the current contractual arrangements in place until 2017 may not upset too many fans of the sport.
The race in Shanghai is rarely scintillating, and this year’s 2015 Chinese GP was less entertaining than normal.
TJ13 is now into its third year of polling how the readers rate the race. So here are the results of this year’s poll together with how China fared in bygone times.
2013 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix – 6.39
Despite the non-appearance this year of the Virtual Safety Car, the FIA has been struggling for years to control the speeds of cars under yellow flag caution conditions. This year’s race in Shanghai saw 8 drivers – Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean, Valtteri Bottas, Max Chilton and Mark Webber investigated following the race, for using DRS in yellow flagged sectors of the circuit.
Fernando Alonso became the third different driver at the start of the 2013 to win a race. This was Alonso’s 31st win of his career, bringing him level with Nigel Mansell on the sport’s all-time win list, leaving only Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna ahead of him.
Alonso’s tally two years later is just one more – at 32 wins. As with this year’s race, the 2013 event was about tyre saving and strategy and for once, Ferrari got all their ducks lined up and brought their Spanish driver home in first.
After Red Bull failed to fuel his car correctly during qualifying due to a fault with the bowser, Webber started from the pit lane rather than the back of the grid. Red Bull further conspired to ruin the Aussies race when following a pit stop, his wheel came loose at the turn 14 hairpin.
2014 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix – 5.31
At the dawn of the new V6 Turbo Hybrid era, this was the fourth race of the season, the fourth pole for Lewis Hamilton and he cruised to a third win in a row, though the FIA had trouble with their computers and the chequered flag was waved two laps before the scheduled finish.
In a return to the confusion of the 1970’s when F1 timekeepers could spend hours following the race – calculating who finished where – Jules Bianchi was promoted to 17th despite being overtaken by Kamui Kobayashi on the final lap.
Ferrari had replaced their team principal, Stefano Domenicali, in the preceding week.
Motorsport Magazine reported that the new Pirelli rubber, “meant cars not being able to run wheel-to-wheel through turn 13, the long, increasing-speed loop leading onto the long back straight. It also limited the effective width of the braking zone into the hairpin at the end of that stretch, discouraging dives down the inside”.
Vettel was realising there was a young pretender to his crown as on lap 23 Daniel Ricciardo was all over his tail. The team ordered Vettel to let Ricciardo past.
“What tyre is he on?” demanded Vettel in response. “Primes, but they are newer than yours.”
“Tough luck,” was the response from the 4 times world champion.
2015 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix – 5.22
Disillusionment with the on track action continues in 2015. As with this year’s Australian event, TJ13 readers have scored this year’s race lower than the same event in the two previous years. A certain TJ13 reader was the only one to rate the race a 10. He identified himself in the comments.
Mercedes clearly stage managed the event having been given the scare of their lives two weeks earlier in Malaysia, when Ferrari hi-jacked the dominant position the Brackley team have held for over a year.
This race here in Shanghai now raises questions as to whether the new 2015 aero regulations combined with the 2015 Pirelli tyres will see a return to processional racing. Clearly drivers with similar engine power, on the same speed compound with similar degradation cannot pass due to the increase in the dirty air washing off the car in front.
The animals almost came in two by two, Mercedes, Ferrari, Williams, then the lone Lotus of Grosjean – Maldonado had been entertaining the crowd to improve the on track action. The two Sauber’s were split by Daniel Ricciardo in the sole Red Bull to finish in 9th.