Winners and Losers at the Chinese Grand Prix

Winners and Losers at the Chinese Grand Prix

21 April 2014 – The Chinese Grand Prix was another race controlled by Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton, the Briton taking maximum points ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. GPUpdate.net presents its winners and losers from the fourth round of the 2014 season at the Shanghai International Circuit.

Winners

This was a completely different race for Lewis Hamilton to Bahrain yet the outcome was the same. Whereas two weeks ago the Brit had to place his car perfectly to resist the advancing Nico Rosberg, in China he sauntered to his third successive victory as he was untouchable when it mattered. After complaining of the Mercedes W05 not feeling right on Friday he got the car dialled in during qualifying and romped to pole position. Usually drivers say they could have gone faster out of showmanship but in reality, a couple of errors masked his true speed. In the race he pulled away at the start and left his rivals for dust. A minor mistake prior to his first stop meant he only held a brief buffer when he emerged from the pits, but he soon rebuilt his advantage and came home 18 seconds clear of Rosberg. This was another big victory for the Brit but perhaps more crucially another psychological knock for Rosberg.

It's been a tumultuous start to the season for Ferrari. Considering their budget, their position in the sport and the increased focus on engines in 2014, this was the season for Ferrari to stride to the front of the pack. They didn't. Bahrain was a humiliation and Stefano Domenicali fell on his sword, with Marco Mattiacci plucked as his replacement. Kimi Räikkönen's woes continued in Bahrain but Fernando Alonso fought admirably all weekend as he got the maximum out of the Ferrari F14T. A frontrunner throughout practice, Alonso lined up in his perennial position of fifth at the start yet was challenging Sebastian Vettel for second by the time the field approached turn six. He jumped Vettel during the pit stop phase but was consequently unable to prevent Rosberg from breezing past. He nonetheless collected Ferrari's first podium of the season to provide the team with a timely boost ahead of his home race in three weeks' time. It's improbable to consider this result as the start of a Ferrari title tilt, but few would bet against Alonso proving to be best of the rest once again.

Only a handful of drivers had a thoroughly excellent weekend in China but Daniil Kvyat again impressed in the Toro Rosso STR9. The Russian was a little subdued in qualifying but made amends at the start and raced well throughout as he beat Jenson Button to the finish and claim another point. Kvyat put in consistently quick lap times and preserved his tyres well as he came home in 10th place. Kvyat's good performance was aided by team-mate Jean-Éric Vergne's result looking worse than it was as the Frenchman was once again struck by bad luck. Vergne dropped places at the start and that set the tone for the rest of his race. But with Kvyat consistently grabbing the attention for his mature and methodical approach – remember, Kvyat is still a teenager – Vergne needs to up his game soon if he is to be retained by the Red Bull establishment. Formula 1 now returns to more traditional territory in Europe for the next couple of months, giving Kvyat a chance to excel at circuits which he knows. But either way, it's been a good start to his Formula 1 career.

Losers

Sebastian Vettel
's indifferent start to the 2014 season continues after he finished a distant fifth at Shanghai. The Reigning World Champion has not been comfortable with his Red Bull RB10 all season. In China it was team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who emerged on top in qualifying, although Vettel moved up to second at the start, with Ricciardo dropping down to fourth. But as the race reached its midway point Vettel began to struggle with his tyres, meaning that Ricciardo rapidly gained on his more esteemed team-mate. Red Bull asked Vettel to move out of the way, the driver enquired as to their respective strategies and he responded curtly, 'tough luck'. Judging Formula 1 drivers by team radio can be dangerous – what is broadcasted is selective – but it was not a comment that would have endeared him to his team or fans on social media, many of whom are already ambivalent about the German. He then ran deep at turn one, which allowed Ricciardo through, although Vettel claimed that it was his decision not to hold up the Australian. Questioning Vettel's meteoric talent on the basis of a couple of below-par races is laughable, but he has so far not adapted well to the demands of his new car. He was unable to switch the prime tyres on, which was a very un-Vettel-like trait.

Remember Melbourne? McLaren, fresh from their annus horribilis in 2013, got two cars into the top three. Their young gun Kevin Magnussen climbed onto the podium and a new star was well and truly born. One month later and the mood is very different. Neither driver scored a point in China and Magnussen cut an extremely downbeat figure after the race. He had the demeanour of a man who found a penny but lost a pound, and then lost the penny to boot. Magnussen and team-mate Jenson Button struggled in qualifying with the front end of the MP4-29 shuddering in the wet conditions, consigning them to a Q2 exit. In the race they made little progress; Magnussen fluffed his start and narrowly avoided causing a first lap collision while the only high point of Button's race was an excellent pass on Jean-Éric Vergne. Problems with getting heat into the tyres meant they just grained and prevented the pair from challenging for the points. A lacklustre event for the team that led the championship after round one and with Barcelona a front limited circuit matters may not improve soon.

Felipe Massa
cut an upbeat figure ahead of the opening round of the season in Australia but his race there was compromised by Kamui Kobayashi, while wet qualifying in Malaysia and the timing of the safety car in Bahrain cost further points. Saturday in China dawned wet and there must have been groans in the Williams motorhome but Massa lined up sixth on the grid after improvements with the FW36. The Brazilian rocketed away at the start and appeared to have ridden his luck when he briefly bounced into the air after hitting Fernando Alonso: no positions lost and no damage sustained. But when it came to Massa's first stop there was a rudimentary mistake made by the pit crew. Williams's mechanics accidentally tried to fit the left rear onto the right hand side of the car and vice versa. They realised their error but the time it took to switch the tyres around cost Massa over a minute and left him miles outside of the points. It was another opportunity lost for the team and for Massa, who perhaps should have double his tally of 12 points.

Phillip Horton
Twitter: @PHortonF1

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Thursday 25 August 2016

  2. 18:16

    F1 photos: Thursday at Spa-Francorchamps

    F1
  3. Rosberg: Hamilton drop means Spa 'less difficult' 18:14

    Rosberg: Hamilton drop means Spa 'less difficult'

    Nico Rosberg admits that Lewis Hamilton's grid penalty will make his Belgian Grand Prix weekend "less difficult" but nonetheless…

    F1
  4. Vettel confident over Belgian GP tyre selection 16:10

    Vettel confident over Belgian GP tyre selection

    Sebastian Vettel says that he has faith in Ferrari's aggressive tyre selection for the Belgian Grand Prix, despite anticipated…

    F1
  5. Sainz Jr. another to trial halo in practice 16:02

    Sainz Jr. another to trial halo in practice

    Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz Jr. has confirmed that he will also trial the 'halo' device during free practice for the Belgian Grand…

    F1
  6. Watkins Glen gets two-year IndyCar extension 15:53

    Watkins Glen gets two-year IndyCar extension

    Watkins Glen will remain on the IndyCar calendar for at least the next two seasons after concluding a new deal with series…

    Indy
  7. Pirelli to run prototypes during Spa practice 15:44

    Pirelli to run prototypes during Spa practice

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has announced that it will run prototype rubber during Friday's practice sessions for the…

    F1
  8. Mercedes confirms Hamilton grid penalty 14:19

    Mercedes confirms Hamilton grid penalty

    Mercedes has confirmed that Lewis Hamilton will take a grid penalty at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, for exceeding his…

    F1
  9. Gutiérrez adamant he has 2017 race seat 12:54

    Gutiérrez adamant he has 2017 race seat

    Esteban Gutiérrez remains adamant that he will be on the Formula 1 grid in 2017, but is unwilling to state the team with which…

    F1
  10. Pérez: Still no clarity over Formula 1 future 12:42

    Pérez: Still no clarity over Formula 1 future

    Sergio Pérez has admitted that it remains unclear which team he will be racing for next season, despite previously hoping his…

    F1
  11. Honda spends seven tokens on Spa update 12:10

    Honda spends seven tokens on Spa update

    Honda used up seven engine tokens ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix, for an update that will be applied to Fernando Alonso and…

    F1
  12. Ocon: Spa the best place to start F1 career 10:36

    Ocon: Spa the best place to start F1 career

    Manor newcomer Esteban Ocon says that there is no better place to start his Formula 1 career than Spa-Francorchamps, the venue…

    F1
  13. Hülkenberg to also run halo during practice 10:12

    Hülkenberg to also run halo during practice

    Force India's Nico Hülkenberg will also run with the 'halo' device during Friday's first practice session for the Belgian Grand…

    F1
  14. Canamasas returns to Carlin for Belgium 07:55

    Canamasas returns to Carlin for Belgium

    Sergio Canamasas will return to the GP2 Series this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, linking up once more with the Carlin…

    GP2
  15. Video of the Day: Vandoorne on F1 aspirations 05:36

    Video of the Day: Vandoorne on F1 aspirations

    McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne discusses his hopes of stepping up to Formula 1 in 2017.

    F1
  16. Wednesday 24 August 2016

  17. 17:22

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  18. Hamilton engine penalty 'likely' in Belgium 16:52

    Hamilton engine penalty 'likely' in Belgium

    Mercedes has stated that Lewis Hamilton is "likely" to suffer a grid drop at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, for taking on…

    F1
  19. Mercedes set to run halo in Spa practice 16:31

    Mercedes set to run halo in Spa practice

    Mercedes is planning to run the 'halo' on Nico Rosberg's car during Friday practice at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, a…

    F1
  20. Wolff: Mercedes taking nothing for granted 15:02

    Wolff: Mercedes taking nothing for granted

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has insisted that the team is taking nothing for granted as the second half of the 2016 season gets…

    F1
  21. Enstone 'refreshed' after Renault return 13:48

    Enstone 'refreshed' after Renault return

    Renault technical chief Bob Bell says the manufacturer's long-term plan is in progress, commenting that facilities at its…

    F1
  22. Video: Conor Daly quizzed on career so far 11:31

    Video: Conor Daly quizzed on career so far

    IndyCar quizzes Dale Coyne Racing's Conor Daly in the latest instalment of its 'test drive' series.

    Indy
  23. Boullier: 2016 gains will aid 2017 package 10:40

    Boullier: 2016 gains will aid 2017 package

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says there will be "no let-up" from the team in terms of its development as anything it…

    F1
  24. Symonds expects Belgian GP to suit Williams 09:24

    Symonds expects Belgian GP to suit Williams

    Williams Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds says he expects the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix to suit the team, as it bids to…

    F1
  25. Vettel set to defend RoC crown in Miami 08:42

    Vettel set to defend RoC crown in Miami

    The Race of Champions will head to the United States for the first time in its history in early 2017, with Sebastian Vettel set…

    Misc
  26. Laverty to leave MotoGP for World Superbikes 08:16

    Laverty to leave MotoGP for World Superbikes

    Eugene Laverty has confirmed that he will leave MotoGP at the end of the season after signing a deal to race for Aprilia in the…

    MotoGP
  27. Preview: Belgian Grand Prix - Round 13 07:32

    Preview: Belgian Grand Prix - Round 13

    Formula 1 returns to action with the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, following its now traditional summer break. GPUpdate.net…

    F1
  28. Video of the Day: ABC Supply 500 highlights 05:26

    Video of the Day: ABC Supply 500 highlights

    Watch highlights of IndyCar's ABC Supply 500, won by Will Power after a scary crash for Hélio Castroneves.

    Indy
  29. Tuesday 23 August 2016

  30. Rosberg: Belgian GP marks 'clean slate' 17:02

    Rosberg: Belgian GP marks 'clean slate'

    Nico Rosberg has described the second half of the campaign as a "clean slate", as he looks to overhaul Mercedes team-mate Lewis…

    F1
  31. Sauber signs Verstappen's former engineer 15:17

    Sauber signs Verstappen's former engineer

    Sauber has confirmed the appointment of Xevi Pujolar as its new Head of Track Engineering. Pujolar has worked for several…

    F1
  32. Hamilton expecting more 'ups and downs' 14:51

    Hamilton expecting more 'ups and downs'

    Lewis Hamilton says he expects more "ups and downs" over the second half of the season, though is entering this weekend's…

    F1
  33. Pirelli reveals Italian GP tyre selections 12:15

    Pirelli reveals Italian GP tyre selections

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed the driver-by-driver compound selections for the Italian Grand Prix, with the…

    F1
  34. Vasseur: Renault must focus on 'small details' 10:08

    Vasseur: Renault must focus on 'small details'

    Renault can deliver more performance over the second half of the 2016 season by focusing on the "smaller details", according to…

    F1
  35. NextEV retains Piquet Jr., Turvey for 2016/17 09:10

    NextEV retains Piquet Jr., Turvey for 2016/17

    NextEV has retained Nelson Piquet Jr. and Oliver Turvey for the 2016/17 Formula E season. Piquet Jr. and Turvey first teamed…

    FE
  36. In photos: Spa-Francorchamps' iconic moments 08:22

    In photos: Spa-Francorchamps' iconic moments

    As Formula 1 gears up for the second half of the 2016 season, GPUpdate.net looks back at some of the most memorable moments at…

    F1
  37. Video of the Day: Racing a Formula E car 05:22

    Video of the Day: Racing a Formula E car

    Nelson Piquet, Lucas di Grassi, Bruno Senna and more discuss the skills required to race a Formula E car.

    FE
  38. Monday 22 August 2016

  39. Power wins, Pagenaud crashes at Pocono 20:22

    Power wins, Pagenaud crashes at Pocono

    Will Power and Team Penske denied Mikhail Aleshin his first IndyCar win at Pocono on Monday, craftily taking the lead through…

    Indy
  40. Video: Hülkenberg's Belgian GP preview 15:02

    Video: Hülkenberg's Belgian GP preview

    Force India's Nico Hülkenberg looks ahead to this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

    F1
  41. Alonso: McLaren can surprise in Belgium 14:18

    Alonso: McLaren can surprise in Belgium

    Fernando Alonso hopes that McLaren will be able to score some more points at the Belgian Grand Prix, despite admitting the…

    F1
  42. Lorenzo left to rue tyre 'mishap' at Brno 12:44

    Lorenzo left to rue tyre 'mishap' at Brno

    MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo was left to rue further "bad luck" as his chances of defending his crown took a hit at the Czech…

    MotoGP
  43. Mallya: Force India 'in the fight' for fourth 10:38

    Mallya: Force India 'in the fight' for fourth

    Force India team boss Vijay Mallya feels that the outfit is "in the fight" with Williams for fourth in the standings, as Formula…

    F1
  44. Márquez pleased with points after wrong call 10:32

    Márquez pleased with points after wrong call

    Marc Márquez labelled third position a "good result" at the Czech Republic Grand Prix, though accepted responsibility for the…

    MotoGP
more news