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 2 April 2015

  2. Video of the Day: Lunch with a trophy 05:07

    Video of the Day: Lunch with a trophy

    Ferrari staff get up close and personal with the team's Winning Constructor trophy from Malaysia.

    F1
  3. Wednesday 1 April 2015

  4. 18:23

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  5. Gasly gets Toro Rosso test chance 18:05

    Gasly gets Toro Rosso test chance

    Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly will drive for Toro Rosso at the post-Spanish Grand Prix test. Toro Rosso confirmed Gasly's…

    F1
  6. F1 engine allocation set to be increased 15:36

    F1 engine allocation set to be increased

    Formula 1 drivers are set to see their engine allowance increased from four units to five for the rest of the 2015 season…

    F1
  7. Video: Porsche showcases 919 Hybrid 12:03

    Video: Porsche showcases 919 Hybrid

    Porsche showcases the 919 Hybrid that will contest this year's World Endurance Championship, including the prestigious 24 Hours…

    Misc
  8. Feature: Hülkenberg on his Le Mans adventure 11:47

    Feature: Hülkenberg on his Le Mans adventure

    Nico Hülkenberg will live the dream of most racing drivers when he competes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche this year.…

    F1
  9. 07:32

    Gallery: Best photos from the Malaysian GP

    F1
  10. Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Malaysia 07:14

    Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Malaysia

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

    F1
  11. Video of the Day: Vettel's radio message 05:08

    Video of the Day: Vettel's radio message

    Listen to Sebastian Vettel's radio transmission as he celebrates victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

    F1
  12. Tuesday 31 March 2015

  13. Video: Domenicali on future of formula racing 15:07

    Video: Domenicali on future of formula racing

    Stefano Domenicali, President of the FIA Single-Seater Commission, discusses the future of formula racing.

    F1
  14. Unchanged grid for Long Beach ePrix 12:30

    Unchanged grid for Long Beach ePrix

    For the first time this season, Formula E's 20-strong grid will remain unchanged between races. Scott Speed, who narrowly…

    FE
  15. Feature: Malaysian GP's key questions 12:07

    Feature: Malaysian GP's key questions

    Prior to last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, GPUpdate.net posed five key questions for the second round of the season at the…

    F1
  16. Five F1 teams confirmed for Goodwood 10:48

    Five F1 teams confirmed for Goodwood

    Five Formula 1 teams have been confirmed for this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed. World Champion team Mercedes, Williams…

    F1
  17. Rossi to star at Goodwood Festival of Speed 10:21

    Rossi to star at Goodwood Festival of Speed

    Valentino Rossi will make his first appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year. The MotoGP legend will attend the…

    MotoGP
  18. Record-breaking Márquez targets Austin recovery 09:02

    Record-breaking Márquez targets Austin recovery

    World Champion Marc Márquez says he and Repsol Honda can recover at the next round of the MotoGP season at the Circuit of the…

    MotoGP
  19. Video of the Day: Rosberg's Sepang blog 05:16

    Video of the Day: Rosberg's Sepang blog

    A downbeat Nico Rosberg discusses the Malaysian Grand Prix as he reflects on his podium place at Sepang.

    F1
  20. Monday 30 March 2015

  21. Malaysian Grand Prix: Winners and Losers 16:44

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

    Sebastian Vettel surged clear to return Ferrari to the top step at the Malaysian Grand Prix as Mercedes was beaten for the first…

    F1
  22. Sauber rues 'missed opportunity' for points 14:29

    Sauber rues 'missed opportunity' for points

    Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn says her squad missed out on an opportunity to add more points to its tally as neither…

    F1
  23. Renault heartened by Ferrari success 12:41

    Renault heartened by Ferrari success

    Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul says that the company must keep pushing as Ferrari's victory in the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  24. Video: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg highlights 11:38

    Video: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg highlights

    Watch highlights from the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg as Juan Pablo Montoya took the win.

    Indy
  25. Wolff: Ferrari victory 'good' for Formula 1 11:22

    Wolff: Ferrari victory 'good' for Formula 1

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes that Sebastian Vettel's triumph at the Malaysian Grand Prix is positive for Formula 1, as…

    F1
  26. Ericsson believes seventh was possible 10:50

    Ericsson believes seventh was possible

    Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson believes that seventh place was possible for the squad in Malaysia, had he not spun out of…

    F1
  27. Rossi revels in 'one of the best races' 09:12

    Rossi revels in 'one of the best races'

    Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi described his victory in the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar as one of the best races of his…

    MotoGP
  28. Arrivabene urges Ferrari to maintain progress 08:30

    Arrivabene urges Ferrari to maintain progress

    Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene says the squad must remain realistic, despite claiming its first victory in almost…

    F1
  29. Video of the Day: Get ready for Long Beach 05:17

    Video of the Day: Get ready for Long Beach

    Formula E stays in the United States for round six of its inaugural season – the Long Beach ePrix.

    FE
  30. 01:23

    Championship standings after Malaysia

    F1
  31. Sunday 29 March 2015

  32. Montoya outduels Power to take St. Pete victory 23:16

    Montoya outduels Power to take St. Pete victory

    Juan Pablo Montoya held off team-mate and pole-sitter Will Power to win the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St.…

    Indy
  33. Pedrosa reveals arm injury, considering future 22:30

    Pedrosa reveals arm injury, considering future

    Honda's Dani Pedrosa says he is considering his options after revealing that he has been suffering with an arm problem for over…

    MotoGP
  34. Rossi beats Dovizioso in Qatar thriller 19:51

    Rossi beats Dovizioso in Qatar thriller

    Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi claimed victory in the opening round of the MotoGP season in Qatar as he beat Ducati's Andrea…

    MotoGP
  35. Video: Will Power's record St. Pete lap 17:06

    Video: Will Power's record St. Pete lap

    Enjoy Will Power's record pole-winning lap for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

    Indy
  36. 16:02

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday at Sepang

    F1
  37. Räikkönen achieves 'maximum' after puncture 15:20

    Räikkönen achieves 'maximum' after puncture

    Kimi Räikkönen says fourth position was the best result possible after he sustained a puncture during the early stages of the…

    F1
  38. McLaren drivers say pace 'a nice surprise' 13:41

    McLaren drivers say pace 'a nice surprise'

    Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button say that McLaren-Honda's raw pace during the Malaysian Grand Prix came as "a nice…

    F1
  39. Verstappen delighted with maiden points 12:59

    Verstappen delighted with maiden points

    Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen expressed his satisfaction after becoming the youngest ever points scorer in Formula 1…

    F1
  40. Ferrari Chairman hails 'incredibly hard work' 12:44

    Ferrari Chairman hails 'incredibly hard work'

    Sergio Marchionne praised the "incredibly hard work" of his Ferrari team after Sebastian Vettel took victory in the Malaysian…

    F1
  41. Kvyat: Hülkenberg clash a racing incident 12:12

    Kvyat: Hülkenberg clash a racing incident

    Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat played down his contact with Force India rival Nico Hülkenberg during the Malaysian Grand Prix, which…

    F1
  42. Brake issues hampers Maldonado at Sepang 12:09

    Brake issues hampers Maldonado at Sepang

    Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado was forced to retire from the Malaysian Grand Prix with a brake issue, as his and the squad's…

    F1
  43. Rosberg wants improved communication 12:05

    Rosberg wants improved communication

    Nico Rosberg has urged Mercedes to improve communication after he came home a distant third in the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  44. Merhi elated by maiden Formula 1 finish 11:54

    Merhi elated by maiden Formula 1 finish

    Formula 1 debutant Roberto Merhi expressed his joy after he was able to finish his first ever race in the sport as he came home…

    F1
  45. Hamilton: Ferrari too fast for us today 11:42

    Hamilton: Ferrari too fast for us today

    Lewis Hamilton has admitted that Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari were simply "too fast" to deal with during the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
more news