Grand Prix of China – Race


RACE 1000

A very close Qualifying session ended with another all-Mercedes front row, a bit unexpected for the 10,00th race.

Fun watching Johnny Herbert ask F1 drivers for their favourite races; so many great moments, especially the footage of the very first race which was held at Silverstone and that’s why (Bernie and I think) the 1000th should have been there too. Glad to hear Professor Sid Watkins mentioned; he and Jackie Stewart really helped F1 become safer.

Grid: BOT, HAM, VET, LEC, VER, GAS, RIC, HUL, MAG, GRO, KVY, PER, RAI, SAI, NOR, STR, RUS, KUB, GIO, ALB*
Only the second time ever that the top 10 have lined up with teammates side by side; today it’s the Mercedes pair, then Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault and Haas.
*ALB has to start from the pit lane as his car had to be rebuilt after his big crash in FP3.

Initially the suggestion was that it’ll be a 1-stop race but more and more it’s sounding like some may go for a 2-stopper.

Compared to Quali, the temperature has dropped and the wind has changed direction.
NOR said “some corners feel amazing, some feel terrible”

BOT leads (almost*) everyone away on the formation lap
*ALB will head to the end of the pit lane as the grid reforms
The front five start on medium compound tyres; the next five are on softs – that was all determined by their Q2 runs.
Behind them, P11 to P18 are all on mediums, with just GIO and ALB on softs.
VER has spun his Red Bull on the formation lap!
KUB has spun too
Both VER and KUB are on medium tyres
The grid forms up

01/56: HAM past BOT, and LEC past VET before Turn 1
Contact in Turn 6 – KVY hits both SAI and NOR
Virtual Safety Car deployed because of debris on the track

02[VSC]: HAM, BOT, LEC, VET, VER, GAS, RIC, PER, HUL, GRO, MAG, RAI, STR, GIO, RUS, KUB, KVY, ALB, SAI, NOR
Both McLarens in the pit lane
VSC ends
NOR waits as SAI gets a new nose

03: HAM fastest lap 1:48.693
BOT f/lap 1:47.756
VER f/lap 1:47.324
RIC f/lap 1:47.265
HUL f/lap 1:46.640
RAI, STR, GIO f/lap 1:44.793
KVY f/lap 1:44.240
ALB f/lap 1:43.535
Wow – 10 people set fastest lap in that lap – that’s got to be because of the VSC
Radio from HAM asking about potential damage from running over some debris
RAI takes P11 from MAG
Incident involving KVY, SAI and NOR under investigation

04: HAM f/lap 1:38.119
Radio for NOR confirming there is damage to the car’s floor

05/56: HAM, BOT, LEC, VET, VER, GAS, RIC, PER, HUL, RAI
ALB inside GIO for P15

06: KVY trying to go around the outside of STR but STR keeps P13
Drive-through penalty for KVY for causing the collision in lap 1

07: HAM has 2.4sec lead over BOT, who in turn is 2.4sec ahead of LEC
VET closing on LEC; close enough for DRS now

08: GIO pits; mediums go on
KVY serves his drive-through penalty

09: GRO pits from P11; switches to hard tyres

10/56: HAM, BOT, LEC, VET, VER, GAS, RIC, PER, HUL, RAI
Radio for LEC – “Let Sebastien by”; “But I’m pulling away”
RAI inside HUL to steal P9

11: LEC gives P3 over to VET
VET locks up into the hairpin

12: VER closing on LEC
HUL pits from P10; hard tyres go on; rejoins P15, almost into the side of GRO

13: VET locks up again

15/56: HAM, BOT, VET, LEC, VER, GAS, RIC, PER, RAI, STR
Radio from LEC – still unhappy that VET was put ahead; “we’re discussing that”
HAM has now led 4,000 laps; only Schumacher has led more

16: Radio for VET – “push more”

17: It’s LEC this time that locks up into the hairpin
HUL pits; he’s pushed into the garage

18: VER pits from P5; hard tyres go on; rejoins P8
NOR has front wing damage – front right is scraping on the track
NOR pits

19: VET pits from P3; hard go on; rejoins P5, just ahead of VER
RIC pits too
VER dives inside VET; locks up a fraction; VET fights back, pushes VER onto the grass

20/56: VER f/lap 1:37.652
Radio for LEC telling him to keep pushing

21: VET f/lap 1:36.998
PER and STR pit

22: BOT pits from P2; hard tyres; 2.3sec stop but it looked even faster; rejoins P3

23: HAM pits from P1; hard tyres; rejoins still P1
LEC pits too; hard tyres; rejoins P5
GAS attacking RAI; GAS is on fresher tyres; RAI tries to defend but GAS takes P6

24: BOT f/lap 1:36.690
Radio from HAM asking why BOT stopped first; told it’s so HAM will have fresher tyres at the end

25/56: HAM, BOT, VET, VER, LEC, GAS, RAI*, RIC, PER, GRO (*RAI has yet to pit)
BOT f/lap 1:36.558

27: STR attacking GIO for P13

28 = half distance: STR uses DRS to take P13

29: HAM has rebuilt a 3sec lead over BOT; VET is over 8sec behind BOT
RAI inside GRO to take P9
GRO fights back but the Alfa Romeo stays ahead

30/56: HAM, BOT, VET, VER, LEC, GAS, RIC, PER, RAI, GRO, MAG, ALB, STR, GIO, SAI, KVY, RUS, NOR, KUB; retirements: HUL
Radio for LEC – “we are thinking about Plan B” (does that mean putting him on new softs?)

31: ALB makes a clean pass on MAG for P11

32: KVY pits for a new nose

35/56: MAG pits
VER pits from P4; mediums; rejoins still P5, ahead of teammate GAS
Radio for VET – “box now”

36: VET pits from P3; mediums; rejoins P4
Radio for HAM – “box, box; box, box; box, box”
Radio for BOT – “box, box – follow Lewis in”
So Mercedes are intentionally stacking their cars – feels risky

37: HAM pits; mediums; rejoins P1
BOT pits; didn’t have to wait for HAM to leave the box; mediums go on; rejoins P3, just behind LEC
Fantastic stops by the Mercedes crew

38: VET f/lap 1:34.836
BOT closing on LEC; lining him up

39: BOT looking left and right; LEC defending well
BOT uses DRS to glide past for P2

40/56: HAM, BOT, LEC, VET, VER, GAS, RIC, PER, RAI, ALB, STR, GRO, MAG, GIO, SAI, RUS, KVY, KUB, NOR; retirements: HUL
Why are Ferrari leaving LEC out for so long? He should have come in as soon as BOT passed him

41: VET continues to close on LEC
Is this just so Ferrari can tell LEC to let VET pass him again?

43: VET easily past LEC for P3
LEC finally pits; mediums go on; problem as he pulls away from the box; rejoins P5
KVY pits; pushed into the garage

44: LEC is 14sec behind VER – will he be able to catch the Red Bull?

45/56: HAM, BOT, VET, VER, LEC, GAS, RIC, PER, RAI, ALB
RAI is catching PER
NOR takes P17 from KUB

46: STR pits
Looks like LEC might just catch VER by the end of the race, so passing him is unlikely

48: PER struggling for grip as RAI closes on him
Radio from HAM asking if BOT is under pressure; is he thinking about backing off?

50/56: HAM, BOT, VET, VER, LEC, GAS, RIC, PER, RAI, ALB, GRO, MAG, STR, GIO, SAI, RUS, NOR, KUB; retirements: KVY, HUL
Radio from HAM asking about fastest lap

51: Radio from LEC – “I have a problem with the gears”; “checking the data”

53: NOR pits; pushed into the garage

54: LEC over 7sec behind VER
GAS pits; softs go on; he’s obviously going for fastest lap

55/56: HAM, BOT, VET, VER, LEC, GAS, RIC, PER, RAI, ALB, GRO, MAG
GRO on the tail of ALB

56 = last lap: GAS does get the fastest lap – 1:34.742, taking the point away from VET

HAM takes the chequered flag, waved by Alain Prost; win number 75, his 6th victory in China
STR past MAG for P12

Provisional result: HAM, BOT, VET, VER, LEC, GAS, RIC, PER, RAI, ALB; GRO, STR, MAG, SAI, GRO, RUS, KUB
DNF: NOR, KVY, HUL