Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso has stormed to a dominant victory at the Chinese Grand Prix. The Spaniard trumped Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen in second and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in third, both of whom had started ahead of him.
Mark Webber was starting from the pitlane as opposed to his grid position of 22nd. The Aussie ran out of fuel during Q2 as a result of a fuel rig malfunction and that left Webber with a penalty for failing to supply an adequate fuel sample. Hamilton had taken his first pole position for Mercedes, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen – starting from the front row for the first time since 2009. Fernando Alonso was third ahead of last year’s winner Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean while Daniel Ricciardo impressed in Qualifying to line up 7th .
The grid underwent the usual procedure, starting the formation lap two minutes before scheduled race time. While 21 other drivers weaved the circuit in preparation for a charge into Turn 1, Mark Webber left his garage to take his position at the end of the pitlane to await the start.
Lights out and Lewis Hamilton charged away in P1. Kimi Raikkonen in P2 had an uncharacteristically bad start and slugged away from his grid box. Neither Ferrari needed to be asked twice and Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa took the chance to jump the Lotus while Nico Rosberg slotted in behind Kimi.
The entire grid – somehow – managed to make it through the first corner without incident as Mark Webber chased the rest of the field. On the 1.2 mile back straight near the end of Lap 1, the Aussie had caught up with the back-markers and was mingling with the Marussias but then pitted at the end of the lap to change to the more durable prime Pirelli tires.
The Force Indias were in the wars at the end of the lap, Sutil making contact with his Scottish counter-part on the run into the final corner and pushing him off the track. Both VJM-07s were in working order and stayed out while Mark Webber began a new charge at the back of the grid.
Lewis in front was fending from fiesty Ferraris behind him and just couldn’t pull a gap from Alonso who began a challenge for P1 on Lap 4. The Spaniard couldn’t make a move stick into the hairpin at the end of the straight and so made good use of the DRS to pass the Briton into the first corner while Massa used Hamilton’s distraction to catch him unawares and slip up the inside.
Nico Hulkenberg pulled a pass on Sebastian Vettel while Esteban Gutierrez out-braked himself into the penultimate corner at the end of the long straight and slammed into the back of Adrian Sutil to take both men out of the race.
Webber was doing a good job recovering from his pitlane start until a misreading between Jean-Eric Vergne and Webber saw the Frenchman spin around and the Aussie damage his front wing. Webber returned to the pits to change wings and emerged with a fresh set of boots aswell. Webber didn’t have to worry about the degradation on the tyres as he couldn’t go fast on them. His rear right wasn’t attached to the car and he had to painstakingly crawl the circuit back to the pits. Coming around the hairpin before the pits, his tyre decided to make a break for it and rolled across the traffic. It was dodged by Vettel and Hulkenberg before making its way back across the track to come to a rest against a barrier. Webber climbed from his car, surely wondering why these things only happen to his side of the garage.
At the same time, Raikkonen came together with Perez when the Mexican pushed him onto the kerb into turn 5 and the Finn lost control. He tapped the rear of the McLaren and with a few choice Finnish words chased Perez down and passed him.
Up front, Vettel was trying to keep his lead safe from a lurking Alonso but ultimately failed when the the Spaniard made short work of the German and moved himself into the lead. The two pitted and Vettel came out ahead of Alonso, but once again the Ferrari driver made it look easy and breezed past him again.
Raikkonen, Button and Hamilton were third, fourth and fifth respectively and despite calls from Button’s engineer to fight Hamilton, Button barely had time to say the word ‘defend’ before Hamilton was past him.
This put the top four as Alonso, Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton with just five laps left, but Red Bull made the call to pit Vettel. Emerging from the pits, he was 13 seconds behind Hamilton, but astonishingly made four seconds a lap on the Briton. The final lap began and Vettel was a second behind Hamilton and looking strong – before a meddling Caterham got in the way. Parking on the apex of the corner, Vettel out braked himself and went wide and then went wide in the following corner which gave Hamilton the breathing space he needed.
A huge lock up into the final corner for Lewis did nothing to help Vettel as they crossed the line 3rd and 4th behind Kimi in 2nd and Fernando Alonso – the winner in Shanghai.
- Fernando Alonso
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Lewis Hamilton
- Sebastian Vettel
- Jenson Button
- Felipe Massa
- Daniel Ricciardo
- Paul di Resta
- Romain Grosjean
- Nico Hulkenberg
- Sergio Perez
- Jean-Eric Vergne
- Valtteri Bottas
- Pastor Maldonado
- Jules Bianchi
- Charles Pic
- Max Chilton
- Giedo van der Garde
- Nico Rosberg
- Mark Webber
- Adrian Sutil
- Esteban Gutierrez