The 2014 Chinese Grand Prix will not live long in the memory for anyone outside the Mercedes camp after the Anglo-German team romped home to their third consecutive 1-2 finish, Lewis Hamilton leading from start to finish after telemetry failure and startline problems hindered team-mate Nico Rosberg’s progress.
The Briton could do no wrong mounted in the unassailable F1W05, and the degree of superiority the team currently enjoys was amply demonstrated by Rosberg during his climb from a poor start that saw him down in 6th back to the runner-up spot.
Behind the inevitable winners Fernando Alonso caused an upset by driving a superb race to finish 3rd ahead of the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel; Vettel had been ahead of his younger team-mate during the first stint but was caught and ordered to let the Australian past when it looked like Ricciardo would three-stop as opposed to Vettel’s two stop. In the end there was no need, but the impressive Ricciardo was unable to sufficiently close the gap to Alonso in the closing laps to make a pass and take his first (legitimate) F1 podium.
Alonso had survived contact with a fast-starting Felipe Massa on the run down to turn one, with the wheel-banging causing Massa to lose time at his first pitstop after damage to the left rear wheel hub saw his pit crew fumbling to fit the harder compound Pirelli’s. He never recovered, and was left circulating at the back of the field for the duration while team-mate Valtteri Bottas enjoyed a race-long duel with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg over 6th. Kimi Raikkonen drove to a lonely 8th, ahead of Sergio Perez and Daniil Kvyat.
If McLaren fans thought it couldn’t get any worse after the nightmare of 2013, think again; the race was a catalogue of misery for the team as Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen found themselves outclassed by all but the Caterham and Marussia cars. The duo never looked like progressing despite some inspired pit calls by Button’s pitwall team early in the race that saw him climb ahead of Perez and Kvyat. In the end there was not enough pace for them even to fight with the Toro Rosso’s.
The good weekend’s work by Romain Grosjean sadly came to nothing when mechanical issues forced him out of 10th place, while Adrian Sutil recorded his third DNF in a row for Sauber.
Rosberg still leads the championship, by four points from Hamilton.
CLASSIFICATION – RACE – Chinese GP – 20th Apr 2014