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. Saturday 1 October 2016

  2. 11:05

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Qualifying results

    F1
  3. Hamilton storms to Malaysian GP pole 11:03

    Hamilton storms to Malaysian GP pole

    Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying to claim pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix, ahead of Mercedes team-mate and…

    F1
  4. 09:48

    Follow qualifying for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  5. Formula 1 tightens double yellow flag rules 09:02

    Formula 1 tightens double yellow flag rules

    Formula 1 drivers have been told that they must now abandon any laps during free practice and qualifying sessions if…

    F1
  6. Vandoorne: Positive to race next to Alonso 08:42

    Vandoorne: Positive to race next to Alonso

    Stoffel Vandoorne reckons it is "positive" that he will be racing alongside Fernando Alonso at McLaren next season, due to the…

    F1
  7. 08:24

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Saturday at Sepang

    F1
  8. 08:05

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Full Practice 3 results

    F1
  9. Hamilton leads Verstappen in final practice 08:02

    Hamilton leads Verstappen in final practice

    Lewis Hamilton remained at the top of the timesheets during Saturday morning's final practice session for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  10. Alonso's penalty increases with new parts 07:18

    Alonso's penalty increases with new parts

    Fernando Alonso's grid penalty at the Malaysian Grand Prix has increased to 45 positions after McLaren-Honda elected to fit new…

    F1
  11. 06:52

    Follow final practice for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  12. 05:58

    Latest GP2 photos: Saturday at Sepang

    GP2
  13. Giovinazzi wins race, Prema clinches title 05:54

    Giovinazzi wins race, Prema clinches title

    Antonio Giovinazzi wrestled back control of the GP2 Series title race with victory during a thrilling Feature Race at Sepang…

    GP2
  14. 04:18

    Latest GP3 photos: Saturday at Sepang

    GP3
  15. Albon wins after dramatic opening lap 04:16

    Albon wins after dramatic opening lap

    Alexander Albon claimed his fourth victory of the GP3 season for ART Grand Prix after a dramatic opening lap in the first race…

    GP3
  16. Video of the Day: Mercedes pit-stop challenge 03:06

    Video of the Day: Mercedes pit-stop challenge

    Watch as Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg become mechanics and take on the pit-stop challenge.

    F1
  17. Friday 30 September 2016

  18. Bryan Herta/Andretti renew partnership 19:05

    Bryan Herta/Andretti renew partnership

    Bryan Herta Autosport and Andretti Autosport have confirmed that they have extended their partnership into the 2017 IndyCar…

    Indy
  19. Hockenheim: No agreement for 2017 F1 race 17:58

    Hockenheim: No agreement for 2017 F1 race

    Officials at Hockenheim say there is currently no agreement in place for the circuit to host the German Grand Prix next year…

    F1
  20. 14:02

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  21. 13:30

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Friday at Sepang

    F1
  22. Palou excluded from GP3 qualifying 13:29

    Palou excluded from GP3 qualifying

    Campos driver Álex Palou has been excluded from the results of GP3 qualifying at Sepang after his car was found to be in breach…

    GP3
  23. Alonso boosted by McLaren improvements 13:15

    Alonso boosted by McLaren improvements

    Fernando Alonso was left boosted by McLaren's progress after an encouraging pair of practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  24. Renault: Valve problem led to Magnussen fire 12:12

    Renault: Valve problem led to Magnussen fire

    Renault Technical Director Nick Chester has confirmed that a problem with the valve on a fuel breather pipe triggered Kevin…

    F1
  25. Force India 'very confident' Pérez will stay 10:53

    Force India 'very confident' Pérez will stay

    Force India Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley has reiterated that the outfit is "very confident" over Sergio Pérez remaining…

    F1
  26. 10:36

    Latest GP3 photos: Friday at Sepang

    GP3
  27. Leclerc leads ART 1-2-3 in Sepang qualifying 10:35

    Leclerc leads ART 1-2-3 in Sepang qualifying

    Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc extended his GP3 Series title advantage to 28 points after taking his fourth pole position of…

    GP3
  28. Verstappen optimistic over long run pace 09:50

    Verstappen optimistic over long run pace

    Max Verstappen feels that Red Bull is looking "very strong" on its long run pace after the first day of practice for the…

    F1
  29. 09:42

    Latest GP2 photos: Friday at Sepang

    GP2
  30. Gasly beats title rival Giovinazzi to pole 09:41

    Gasly beats title rival Giovinazzi to pole

    Pierre Gasly extended his GP2 Series advantage to 14 points after beating Prema team-mate and title rival Antonio Giovinazzi to…

    GP2
  31. Hamilton: First day a 'good building block' 09:28

    Hamilton: First day a 'good building block'

    Lewis Hamilton has called his first day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix a "good building block", after struggling in…

    F1
  32. Vettel urges Ferrari to take any chances 09:10

    Vettel urges Ferrari to take any chances

    Sebastian Vettel has urged Ferrari to take any opportunities that come its way over the final six races of the season, starting…

    F1
  33. 08:35

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  34. Hamilton moves ahead in second practice 08:33

    Hamilton moves ahead in second practice

    Lewis Hamilton moved to the top of the times during Friday afternoon's second free practice session for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  35. 06:51

    Follow second practice for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  36. Renault hopes to run Magnussen in FP2 04:59

    Renault hopes to run Magnussen in FP2

    Renault is hopeful of fielding Kevin Magnussen during Friday afternoon's second practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix…

    F1
  37. 04:36

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  38. Rosberg comfortably tops FP1 at Sepang 04:35

    Rosberg comfortably tops FP1 at Sepang

    Nico Rosberg comfortably topped the timesheets during Friday morning's opening free practice session for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  39. First practice red flagged after Magnussen fire 03:38

    First practice red flagged after Magnussen fire

    Friday's first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix was red flagged after Kevin Magnussen's car caught fire in the pit…

    F1
  40. 02:52

    Follow first practice for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  41. Magnussen: Team-mate Palmer underrated 02:24

    Magnussen: Team-mate Palmer underrated

    Kevin Magnussen believes his reputation has been hindered by having a rookie team-mate, commenting that Jolyon Palmer is…

    F1
  42. Video of the Day: Bottas' 'My Path' - #1 01:00

    Video of the Day: Bottas' 'My Path' - #1

    Valtteri Bottas begins his 'My Path' series which tells his story of becoming a Formula 1 driver with Williams.

    F1
more news