Highs and Loews: China

Highs

Lewis Hamilton – 1st
Did what he needed to in qualifying, a near perfect lap, then got off the line well in the race and completely controlled it from start to finish. A ‘grand slam’ apparently, an ideal weekend after coming out second best in Melbourne.

Sebastian Vettel – 2nd
Ferrari are behind Mercedes in qualifying at present (don’t try and tell me Bottas and Vettel would be that close in equal machinery), so also did what he needed to on Saturday by getting in front of the Finn. Was unfortunate in the race to end up behind a train of cars, but showed those who used to claim he can’t pass just how wide of the mark that assertion was with some great moves on Raikkonen and then Ricciardo.

Max Verstappen – 3rd
Driver of the day, as the Sky coverage mentioned once or twice, and deservedly so. He’s exceptional in difficult conditions, 16th to 3rd was a stunning recovery. Got one over on Ricciardo too, firstly by passing when he was quicker than the Australian, then holding him off when he wasn’t.

Daniel Ricciardo – 4th
Obviously disappointed to lose out to his teammate, but should be pleased to finish ahead of a Mercedes and Ferrari, who are both a step ahead at present. The Red Bull is at least competitive in the wet.

Carlos Sainz – 7th
A ballsy move by starting on slicks, which three corners in must have seemed like a huge error. A great day and impressive effort from Sainz though, who got the maximum return in the end that helps lift Toro Rosso into 4th in the constructors championship.

Kevin Magnussen – 8th
After a poor showing in Australia, this was a great response from Magnussen to get his Haas into 8th. Pre-season it wasn’t clear where Haas would be in the pecking order, so it’ll be encouraging for the team to be in a position to score solid points like this.

Fernando Alonso – DNF
This may seem like a contradiction, having placed Alonso in the Loews last time out for a DNF, but this really was the performance of a multiple world champion before yet another failure prematurely ended his race. Alonso did a good job to qualify in 13th, and then was somehow running in 7th despite cars being able to pass him with relative ease down the back straight. Claims to be driving the some of the best races of his career, and it’s hard to argue given how poor that car is. McLaren need to start holding up their end of the bargain, before the team lose one of the most talented drivers of a generation.

Pascal Wehrlein – DNS
It’s not often you’ll be a winner having not even been involved in a race event, but with speculation surrounding Wehrlein’s future with Sauber, he was certainly the beneficiary of Giovinazzi’s horror weekend.

Lo(e)ws

Kimi Raikkonen – 5th
Another below par weekend for the Iceman, who was unable to get passed Daniel Ricciardo when the Red Bull was the slower car, which Vettel, having passed Raikonen himself, then demonstrated was possible. Finished over 40 seconds behind his teammate too, his season has gotten off to a sluggish start considering the pace of the Ferrari.

Valterri Bottas – 6th
After a promising start to his Mercedes career in Melbourne, Bottas perhaps realises now just how much pressure he’ll be under this year. A mistake in the race when trying to heat up his tyres cost the team valuable points, which led to a fairly frank assessment from Toto Wolff who said the Finn ‘threw it away’ in Shanghai. Did a decent job in qualifying, not a million miles from Hamilton, but with only a one year contract the spotlight is on him. The best news for Bottas is perhaps that Bahrain is only a week away, with limited waiting time before he can make amends.

Nico Hulkenberg – 12th
An absolutely stunning qualifying performance from Hulkenberg (7th) set him up nicely for good points on race day, but two needless errors when he passed under safety car conditions cost him dearly. Renault seem a bit behind those fighting for points at present, so they can’t afford such mistakes.

Jolyon Palmer – 13th
A better day on Sunday, but once again out in Q1 on Saturday, although he may claim due to unfortunate circumstances. Hulkenberg showed the pace was there though, so Palmer perhaps should have been clear before the late drama that ended his hot lap. Also due to his reprimand from not lifting under double yellow flags, has 7 penalty points on his license already, and will face an uneasy few months until July before some will be cleared, too.

Felipe Massa – 14th
After another strong showing in qualifying, Massa would have been expecting to finish best of the rest again. However, the criticism of both Williams and Massa in wet conditions don’t look like they’re going to go away any time soon.

Antonio Giovinazzi – DNF
Staked a claim in Australia for a Sauber race seat on a more permanent basis, then in China moved himself right back to where he started, if not further back. Mistake at the last corner in qualifying resulted in a big accident and a grid penalty, then an accident in the same place just 4 laps into the race ended a dreadful weekend for the Italian. Sauber can’t afford to be repairing cars every weekend.

Lance Stroll – DNF
Responded in qualifying to his disappointing performance two weeks ago by making Q3, but an overly aggressive first lap incident shows there’s a still a long way to go for the young Canadian. He claims the incident with Perez was his corner, however he’ll need to quickly realise that such an assumption so early in a race is a huge risk, with so many cars around, punchy first lap moves rarely end well.

 

 

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