Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix 2019

Chinese Grand Prix 2019

As Formula 1 celebrates its 1,000th race, we were treated to a disappointing race where Mercedes claimed a third 1 – 2 of the season with the lead Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel a distant third. I know Mercedes were lucky in Bahrain two weeks ago, but they were there to take the plaudits when it counted with their second 1 – 2 of the season, while Ferrari has technical, strategic issues and driving errors.

The start saw Lewis Hamilton get the jump on polesitter Valtteri Bottas to lead the pack into turn 1, meanwhile, on the second row, Charles Leclerc took advantage of Vettel having to get out of the throttle behind the slow-starting Bottas to slip up the inside of turn 3 for third place. Racing Point’s Sergio Perez made a monster start to come out of turn 3 in eighth place, four places ahead of his grid spot.

The ‘torpedo’ Danill Kvyat did what he does and clattered into the McLaren’s of Carlos Sainz first, then Lando Norris in the space of 2 seconds through turn 2, for which, Kvyat was handed a drive-thru penalty, for causing a collision. And amazingly, all three drivers continued on after pitstops for running repairs, although Norris and Kvyat did retire later in the race after it was clear no points were in the offing.

Ferrari ordered Charles Leclerc to allow defacto #1 Vettel through on lap 11, as the Scuderia believed that Vettel was faster, which turned out not to be true, Leclerc stayed with the German while Vettel himself could make no inroads into the gap to Bottas. Because Vettel was the leading Ferrari, he pitted first in response to Red Bull pitting Verstappen for hard tires, leaving Leclerc out for a further 3 laps, which put the Monégasque driver on the back foot. Ferrari doubled screwed Leclerc in the second stop, hanging him out to dry, bringing him in for medium tires 7 laps after Vettel, costing him a 4th place to Verstappen.

Honestly, after just three races, I’m ready to hand the drivers and constructors titles to Mercedes. Ferrari is woefully inept, bad strategy calls, technical issues, and driving errors have cost them big time and they are not fast enough, it seems the gap from Mercedes is 0.3 seconds. Today’s bullshit with switching drivers around and then sacrificing Leclerc for Vettel has cost themselves 4th place. Ferrari made more personnel changes over the winter and Ferrari are still out in the wilderness compared to Mercedes.

There was better news for my favorite driver, Daniel Ricciardo, who started 7th, had an anonymous race and finished in 7th place, which is a welcome change after two zero points scores in races 1 and 2. It’s a shame that he does not have a car underneath him at Renault to really challenge, to be able to make his trademark overtakes into corners from way back. Also, an excellent drive from STR’s Alex Albon, who started from the pitlane to battle up to 10th place to claim the final world championship point.

Red Bull chose to pit Pierre Gasly two laps from the end to fit a set of soft tires to his car as he was safe in sixth place, to challenge for the fastest lap point, stealing the point from Vettel, with a time of 1:34.742. I still don’t much like the point for fastest lap, in this case, it added nothing, no places were gained or lost in the effort to win the fastest lap, but I guess, it also does no harm, it’s just another gimmick in my view!

Overall, a very forgettable race to celebrate F1’s 1,000th race, disappointing.

Chinese Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:32:06.350
2. Valterri Bottas (Mercedes) +6.552
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +13.744
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +27.627
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +31.276
6. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) +1:29.307
7. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1 LAP
8. Sergio Perez (Racing Point) +1 LAP
9. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) +1 LAP
10. Alex Albon (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP

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