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. Tuesday 22 August 2017

  2. F1 teams load up on Super Softs for Italy 10:09

    F1 teams load up on Super Softs for Italy

    Formula 1 teams have loaded up on the softest available tyre for the Italian Grand Prix, which directly follows this weekend's…

    F1
  3. Video: Super Formula Motegi highlights 10:03

    Video: Super Formula Motegi highlights

    Watch as Pierre Gasly takes his maiden Super Formula victory during the series' Motegi round.

    SF
  4. Renault to update engine at Spa, Monza 09:04

    Renault to update engine at Spa, Monza

    Renault will bring software and hardware updates to the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix, as it pushes to close the gap to rival…

    F1
  5. Kubica 'delivered well' in 2017-spec F1 test 08:12

    Kubica 'delivered well' in 2017-spec F1 test

    Robert Kubica "delivered well" on his official Formula 1 test return at the Hungaroring earlier this month, according to Renault…

    F1
  6. Belgian GP preview: F1 gets Spa treatment 07:02

    Belgian GP preview: F1 gets Spa treatment

    After a month-long break to recharge batteries, F1 will burst back into life with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps…

    F1
  7. Video: Rosberg vlogs with a Hamilton hat 05:38

    Video: Rosberg vlogs with a Hamilton hat

    Nico Rosberg films his first official 'vlog' as he heads to Stuttgart for the Mercedes-Benz Museum fan event. But why does a…

    F1
  8. Monday 21 August 2017

  9. 17:02

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  10. Video: F1 2017 video game at Zandvoort 16:32

    Video: F1 2017 video game at Zandvoort

    Until 1985, Circuit Zandvoort hosted the Dutch Grand Prix. To celebrate the upcoming video game release of F1 2017, Koch Media…

    F1
  11. Harvey to enter final two rounds with SPM 13:53

    Harvey to enter final two rounds with SPM

    Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has confirmed its driver plans for the remainder of the season, handing Jack Harvey the final two…

    Indy
  12. 13:21

    Overview: Belgian Grand Prix F1 schedule

    F1
  13. Force India still hoping for podium finish 13:00

    Force India still hoping for podium finish

    Force India still harbours hopes of a podium finish during the 2017 season and is "ready to take" any opportunity, says team…

    F1
  14. Haas to start with Brembo brakes at Spa 11:59

    Haas to start with Brembo brakes at Spa

    Haas team boss Guenther Steiner has confirmed that both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will start the Belgian Grand Prix…

    F1
  15. Abraham gets new Aspar deal for 2018 10:34

    Abraham gets new Aspar deal for 2018

    Karel Abraham will remain with Aspar through 2018, having performed "much better" than the team expected on his MotoGP…

    MotoGP
  16. Gasly revels in 'very special' SF triumph 10:32

    Gasly revels in 'very special' SF triumph

    Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly described his maiden victory in the Super Formula championship as "very special", after he…

    SF
  17. Video: IndyCar Pocono race day highlights 09:33

    Video: IndyCar Pocono race day highlights

    Watch highlights of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, also known as the Tricky Triangle.

    Indy
  18. Norris takes title lead after Zandvoort double 09:12

    Norris takes title lead after Zandvoort double

    McLaren-backed Lando Norris moved into the lead of the European Formula 3 Championship with a commanding performance at…

    F3
  19. Formula 1 launches eSports championship 09:01

    Formula 1 launches eSports championship

    Formula 1 has announced the launch of its first official eSports series. Starting in September 2017, fans and gamers from…

    F1
  20. Video: Mercedes-Benz's W125 from 1937 05:42

    Video: Mercedes-Benz's W125 from 1937

    Take a look at the dominant Mercedes-Benz W125, which was the car to beat in the 1937 Grand Prix season.

    F1
  21. Sunday 20 August 2017

  22. 22:49

    Latest IndyCar photos: Sunday at Pocono

    Indy
  23. Power wins Pocono with strategy, persistence 22:47

    Power wins Pocono with strategy, persistence

    Will Power delivered a precise and tactical final two stints in an eventful race at Pocono on Sunday to hold off Josef Newgarden…

    Indy
  24. Hunter-Reay gets green light for Pocono 15:17

    Hunter-Reay gets green light for Pocono

    Ryan Hunter-Reay has been cleared to race at Pocono later on Sunday in the wake of his hefty accident during…

    Indy
  25. Verstappen doubts Red Bull win threat 14:17

    Verstappen doubts Red Bull win threat

    Max Verstappen feels it will still be "tough" for Red Bull to compete with Mercedes and Ferrari when Formula 1 returns from its…

    F1
  26. Wehrlein hopes for non-DTM alternative 12:22

    Wehrlein hopes for non-DTM alternative

    Pascal Wehrlein says the "second way" of reaching Formula 1 will no longer be possible for any Mercedes-backed youngsters…

    F1
  27. Video: Visor Cam at Pocono Raceway 11:34

    Video: Visor Cam at Pocono Raceway

    Ride along with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal during his qualifying run at Pocono.

    Indy
  28. Hunter-Reay in doubt for race after crash 10:02

    Hunter-Reay in doubt for race after crash

    Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay will need to be cleared to drive by IndyCar's medical team on Sunday, following a hefty…

    Indy
  29. In photos: Formula 1's iconic Spa moments 09:42

    In photos: Formula 1's iconic Spa moments

    Formula 1 returns from its summer break next weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix, which takes place at the legendary…

    F1
  30. Motegi gets new five-year MotoGP deal 08:47

    Motegi gets new five-year MotoGP deal

    Motegi will remain as the host of the Japanese Grand Prix until at least 2023 after signing a new five-year deal with MotoGP…

    MotoGP
  31. Nakagami graduates to MotoGP with LCR 08:35

    Nakagami graduates to MotoGP with LCR

    LCR Honda will become a two-bike team in 2018 after confirming that Takaaki Nakagami will graduate to MotoGP, partnering Cal…

    MotoGP
  32. Gasly takes maiden SF victory at Motegi 08:22

    Gasly takes maiden SF victory at Motegi

    Red Bull-backed Pierre Gasly captured his maiden Super Formula win at Motegi on Sunday. Gasly qualified in fourth position…

    SF
  33. Video: Williams Heritage Stories - FW14B 05:42

    Video: Williams Heritage Stories - FW14B

    Williams tells the story of the 1992 title-winning Williams-Renault FW14B, with input from champion Nigel Mansell, Riccardo…

    F1
  34. Saturday 19 August 2017

  35. 20:45

    Latest IndyCar photos: Saturday at Pocono

    Indy
  36. Video: Castroneves crashes during qualifying 20:42

    Video: Castroneves crashes during qualifying

    Penske's Hélio Castroneves escapes unharmed following a hard hit during IndyCar qualifying at Pocono Raceway.

    Indy
  37. Sato beats Pagenaud to pole at Pocono 20:36

    Sato beats Pagenaud to pole at Pocono

    Andretti Autosport's Takuma Sato ran last in an eventful Saturday qualifying order for the ABC Supply 500, edging out Penske…

    Indy
  38. Hamilton: Mercedes in 'good place' with tyres 16:33

    Hamilton: Mercedes in 'good place' with tyres

    Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes is in a "good place" with its understanding of Pirelli's tyres, after problems during the early…

    F1
  39. Video: Top overtakes from FE's third season 12:42

    Video: Top overtakes from FE's third season

    Take a look at the 20 best overtakes from the 2016/17 Formula E championship, as chosen by series officials.

    FE
  40. Steiner: Minardi-style team could aid youth 10:08

    Steiner: Minardi-style team could aid youth

    Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner believes Formula 1 would benefit from the existence of a Minardi-style outfit, in order to…

    F1
  41. Video: Day in the life of an F1 show car team 05:36

    Video: Day in the life of an F1 show car team

    Mercedes highlights what it takes to put on a spectacular F1 show at the world's best motorsport events.

    F1
  42. Friday 18 August 2017

  43. Video: IndyCar's 2018 speedway aero kit 17:12

    Video: IndyCar's 2018 speedway aero kit

    IndyCar technical guru Jon Beekhuis runs through the features on the series' 2018 speedway kit.

    Indy
  44. Social media: Who's winning off the track? 16:02

    Social media: Who's winning off the track?

    Social media is an increasingly important tool for drivers and teams to share key moments and communicate with their fans, but…

    F1
  45. Overview: Formula 1 silly season rumbles on 13:42

    Overview: Formula 1 silly season rumbles on

    While the Formula 1 community has recharged its batteries over the summer break, the silly season has rumbled on in the…

    F1
more news