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. Sunday 30 August 2015

  2. Räikkönen hopes to be 'in the fight' at Monza 08:22

    Räikkönen hopes to be 'in the fight' at Monza

    Kimi Räikkönen is hopeful that Ferrari will pose a greater challenge to Mercedes at the Italian Grand Prix, despite Monza…

    F1
  3. Video of the Day: Final Formula E test recap 05:24

    Video of the Day: Final Formula E test recap

    Join Formula E presenter Nicki Shields for a closer look at the final pre-season test at Donington Park.

    FE
  4. Power steals pole, Sonoma lap record 00:36

    Power steals pole, Sonoma lap record

    A consistently fast Will Power stole P1 away from Josef Newgarden after time expired in the final IndyCar qualifying of the year…

    Indy
  5. Saturday 29 August 2015

  6. 16:03

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  7. Whiting: In F1, no one day is like another 15:46

    Whiting: In F1, no one day is like another

    In 1988, after a lengthy stint as an engineer at Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham team, Charlie Whiting joined the FIA's technical…

    F1
  8. 15:18

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
  9. Márquez smashes Silverstone lap record 15:13

    Márquez smashes Silverstone lap record

    Marc Márquez twice broke the lap record during Saturday's qualifying session at Silverstone to secure pole position for the…

    MotoGP
  10. Häkkinen understands Vettel's outburst 13:18

    Häkkinen understands Vettel's outburst

    Double Formula 1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen says he "can understand" why Sebastian Vettel hit out at tyre supplier Pirelli…

    F1
  11. Lorenzo stays on top in third session 10:52

    Lorenzo stays on top in third session

    Jorge Lorenzo remained on top with a blistering late effort during Saturday's third practice session for the British Grand Prix…

    MotoGP
  12. GPUpdate's stars of the future: Esteban Ocon 08:20

    GPUpdate's stars of the future: Esteban Ocon

    Across 2015, GPUpdate.net has been profiling some of the most talented up-and-coming youngsters gracing the various junior…

    GP3
  13. Maldonado caused own DNF with 17G impact 07:46

    Maldonado caused own DNF with 17G impact

    Pastor Maldonado caused his own retirement from last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps with a sizeable 17G…

    F1
  14. Video of the Day: Driven by Data - Engine 05:14

    Video of the Day: Driven by Data - Engine

    McLaren showcases how many strokes per second are produced by Honda's engine.

    F1
  15. Friday 28 August 2015

  16. Grosjean sure he would have passed Vettel 16:08

    Grosjean sure he would have passed Vettel

    Lotus driver Romain Grosjean says he is "convinced" that he would have passed Sebastian Vettel for third at the Belgian Grand…

    F1
  17. 15:12

    Latest MotoGP photos: Friday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
  18. Lorenzo edges Márquez in second practice 15:03

    Lorenzo edges Márquez in second practice

    Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo edged out Repsol Honda rival Marc Márquez during second practice for the British Grand Prix at…

    MotoGP
  19. Bottas 'expected more' from 2015 car 14:01

    Bottas 'expected more' from 2015 car

    Valtteri Bottas has admitted that he "expected more" from the Williams FW37 this season, but he is hopeful that progress will be…

    F1
  20. GPUpdate lets readers ask Hülkenberg questions 12:02

    GPUpdate lets readers ask Hülkenberg questions

    Earlier in the season, GPUpdate.net gave readers the chance to quiz Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Lotus driver Romain…

    F1
  21. Márquez tops first practice at Silverstone 10:50

    Márquez tops first practice at Silverstone

    Repsol Honda's Marc Márquez topped the times during Friday morning's opening practice session for the British Grand Prix at…

    MotoGP
  22. Video: IndyCars cross Golden Gate Bridge 09:36

    Video: IndyCars cross Golden Gate Bridge

    Ahead of this weekend's IndyCar season finale at Sonoma, drivers completed a demonstration run across San Francisco's Golden…

    Indy
  23. Preview: Chasing Montoya, honouring Wilson 09:22

    Preview: Chasing Montoya, honouring Wilson

    As the IndyCar circus arrives in California for the resolution of a tense and complex championship battle, the sport also finds…

    Indy
  24. Servià to drive Wilson's car at Sonoma 07:38

    Servià to drive Wilson's car at Sonoma

    Oriol Servià will drive Justin Wilson's Andretti car at this weekend's IndyCar finale at Sonoma in tribute to the Briton, who…

    Indy
  25. Video of the Day: Sound of a radio message 05:23

    Video of the Day: Sound of a radio message

    Mercedes partner BOSE covers radio tranmissions in the latest part of its 'Sounds of Formula 1' series.

    F1
  26. Thursday 27 August 2015

  27. Alonso expects 'completely different' second half 17:59

    Alonso expects 'completely different' second half

    Fernando Alonso is predicting a "completely different" performance from McLaren-Honda over the second half of the season, as the…

    F1
  28. Red Bull set to take Monza engine drops 15:12

    Red Bull set to take Monza engine drops

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat are likely to take grid penalties at the Italian…

    F1
  29. Frijns hoping for Andretti Formula E seat 14:24

    Frijns hoping for Andretti Formula E seat

    Robin Frijns has set his sights on securing the vacant race seat at Andretti for the upcoming Formula E campaign, but says…

    FE
  30. Video: IndyCar drivers preview Sonoma finale 13:02

    Video: IndyCar drivers preview Sonoma finale

    IndyCar drivers preview this weekend's season finale at Sonoma, which takes place under a cloud following Justin Wilson's death.…

    Indy
  31. Mallya confident of keeping Hülkenberg 10:42

    Mallya confident of keeping Hülkenberg

    Force India team boss Vijay Mallya says he is "quite confident" of retaining Nico Hülkenberg's services for the 2016 season…

    F1
  32. Chilton reveals Haas F1 discussions 09:37

    Chilton reveals Haas F1 discussions

    Former Marussia racer Max Chilton has revealed that he has held discussions with the arriving Haas F1 Team over a potential…

    F1
  33. Kvyat to demo Formula 1 car in Russia 08:22

    Kvyat to demo Formula 1 car in Russia

    Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat will showcase Formula 1 machinery in his native Russia on Sunday. Kvyat is set to get behind the…

    F1
  34. Video of the Day: Hamilton's summer holiday 05:06

    Video of the Day: Hamilton's summer holiday

    Take a look at what Lewis Hamilton got up to during his summer break away from Formula 1.

    F1
  35. Wednesday 26 August 2015

  36. Crutchlow pens new two-year LCR deal 14:35

    Crutchlow pens new two-year LCR deal

    British rider Cal Crutchlow has secured his MotoGP future until the end of 2017 after signing a new two-year deal to remain with…

    MotoGP
  37. Lorenzo sees 'great opportunity' at Silverstone 13:28

    Lorenzo sees 'great opportunity' at Silverstone

    Jorge Lorenzo says he sees a "great opportunity" for himself and Yamaha at this weekend's British Grand Prix, as he looks to…

    MotoGP
  38. Video: Repsol Honda's British GP preview 12:36

    Video: Repsol Honda's British GP preview

    Repsol Honda looks ahead to this weekend's British MotoGP Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit.

    MotoGP
  39. Chilton: Closed cockpits in five to 10 years 11:43

    Chilton: Closed cockpits in five to 10 years

    Former Marussia driver Max Chilton is certain that Formula 1 will adopt closed cockpits in the future, and expects the switch to…

    F1
  40. Feature: Belgian GP's key questions 11:21

    Feature: Belgian GP's key questions

    Ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix at the historic Spa-Francorchamps, GPUpdate.net posed five questions and pondered the outcomes.…

    F1
  41. Vettel defends Ferrari's Belgian GP strategy 09:46

    Vettel defends Ferrari's Belgian GP strategy

    Sebastian Vettel has spoken out in defence of Ferrari's strategy at the Belgian Grand Prix, insisting that the decision to…

    F1
  42. Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Belgium 07:27

    Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Belgium

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net's race-by-race series, Story Behind the Shot, continues throughout…

    F1
  43. Video of the Day: Driven by Data - Downforce 05:23

    Video of the Day: Driven by Data - Downforce

    McLaren highlights how much downforce is generated by a modern Formula 1 car.

    F1
  44. Tuesday 25 August 2015

  45. 18:18

    Photos: FE pre-season testing – Day 6

    FE
  46. Prost heads e.Dams 1-2 on final test day 18:11

    Prost heads e.Dams 1-2 on final test day

    Nicolas Prost edged out team-mate Sébastien Buemi in a Renault e.Dams 1-2 on the final day of pre-season testing at Donington…

    FE
more news