- Chinese Grand Prix
Driver-by-driver run downLaurence Edmondson and Chris Medland April 17, 2011
Lewis Hamilton - 1st - His race was so nearly over before it had begun, as a flooded engine caused some last minute drama in the McLaren garage, but Hamilton kept his cool and was soon shadowing his team-mate after a strong move on Vettel in to turn one. His tyre preservation from qualifying paid off, and allowed him to be aggressive, as he put moves on Button, Rosberg and Massa before picking his spot to overtake Vettel for the win; none of which occurred in the DRS zone.
Sebastian Vettel - 2nd - Not his greatest day, but it's a measure of his form that second feels like a failure. His first mistake of the season came off the start line, and proved crucial as he dropped to third. Still showed good pace, but couldn't make the two stop strategy work and was easy prey for Hamilton towards the end of the race. If the race was a lap longer he may well have found himself behind his team-mate.
Mark Webber - 3rd - An outstanding drive from 18th on the grid, especially considering he struggled in the first stint. Having three sets of new soft tyres meant he could push hard after each stop and just kept getting quicker, putting a strong move on Rosberg before he cruised past Button for third on the penultimate lap. Finishing just 2.5 seconds behind Vettel shows how well he maximised an unorthodox strategy.
Jenson Button - 4th - After the first lap it looked like it could be his day, with a clear track in front of him. He couldn't pull out any sort of gap though, and unusually struggled to look after his rear tyres. His error stopping in the Red Bull pit slot during his first stop cost him a place to Vettel, and he left Hamilton a surprising amount of room in to turn one. Was powerless to defend from Webber on fresher tyres, but will be disappointed to lose third a lap from the finish.
Nico Rosberg - 5th - A surprise package, but an opportunity missed. Got the strategy right to pit early and undercut the leaders, which put him first for a good portion of the grand prix. Fuel consumption problems ruined his race though, which left him unable to keep Hamilton at bay. He didn't help his own cause either, outbraking himself in to the hairpin having just taken Massa for third and losing two places.
Felipe Massa - 6th - An encouraging return to form as he matched Vettel's two stop strategy and even closed on the leading Red Bull during the middle laps. Three stops was the way to go though, and he slipped back from second as the race went on, although showed good fight against Hamilton, and will be pleased to outscore Alonso.
Fernando Alonso - 7th - Lost out to his team-mate off the line, and struggled on the two stop strategy. Got caught up in a battle with Schumacher that cost him some time, but his Ferrari didn't have the race pace it had shown in Malaysia and he already faces an uphill battle after falling 42 points behind in the drivers' championship.
Michael Schumacher - 8th - Said before the race he had the pace to qualify in the top 10 and displayed it during the race. An impressive start from 14th put him ninth after the first lap, but was still stuck behind the Force India's which kept him from making much further headway. Also suffered with high fuel consumption, and was unable to win his flashback battle with Alonso. Needs to improve his qualifying performances.
Vitaly Petrov - 9th - Not Renault's strongest race, as both drivers went on two stop strategies. Having started tenth, he was caught in the midfield battles and then was unable to make the soft tyres work for him during a long middle stint. Learnt from his error in Malaysia on worn tyres to bring the car home in the points.
Kamui Kobayashi - 10th - Another good drive having started down in 13th place, making steady progress through the field despite contact with Sutil that left him with a hole at the front of the car. Made his final set of hard tyres last impressively for someone with such an aggressive driving style to take the final point from Di Resta in the closing laps.
Paul Di Resta - 11th - Limited running on Friday cost him as he struggled with the balance on heavy fuel early in the race. Tried to cover Schumacher by pitting earlier but it was a battle he was never going to win, leaving him with heavily used tyres at the end of the race that eventually saw Kobayashi pass him for the final point. By no means a poor race though, as he beat Sutil once again.
Nick Heidfeld - 12th - His race was heavily compromised in qualifying, but he couldn't reproduce the fast start of Sepang and a lack of pace was further undermined by an overheating KERS unit which left him with intermittent usage. The car was quick enough for points, but he was unable to overtake without the system's power boosts.
Rubens Barrichello - 13th - Another disappointing race as Williams continues to struggle for pace in the tightly-packed midfield. He barely figured during the race but kept out of trouble on a two-stop strategy and saw the chequered flag for the first time this year.
Sebastien Buemi - 14th - Failed to deliver on the promise shown in qualifying after getting off to a poor start with excess wheelspin. He continued to drop back through the field as he struggled with understeer and even made an extra pit stop on top of his two-stop strategy to increase his front wing angle.
Adrian Sutil - 15th - He got off to a great start to run inside the top eight but tyre degradation forced him to make three stops and dropped him back down the field. Any chance of a respectable finish evaporated when Perez clobbered his front wing while fighting for position.
Heikki Kovalainen - 16th - A great performance that signalled Lotus' arrival in the midfield. It may not be the team's highest finishing position to date, but to be ahead of a Sauber and a Williams is a dramatic improvement on last year.
Sergio Perez - 17th - His race pace was good but his inexperience shone through when he completely misjudged a move on Sutil towards the end of the race. "I am sorry for him and sorry for my team," he said afterwards. "At that time in the race I wanted to get the most out of my tyres, as I was under pressure from Vitaly [Petrov], so was quite aggressive." He was punished with a drive-through penalty.
Pastor Maldonado - 18th - It may have been his first race finish in Formula One but there was little to celebrate. It's true that the car isn't up to much, but he finished a long way off Barrichello and clearly struggled for pace. He did play a role in Hamilton's victory drive , however, when he backed Rosberg into the McLaren's firing line while exiting the pits.
Jarno Trulli - 19th - Even though his Lotus is quicker than ever before, it will have been disappointing to finish 20 seconds off the pace of his team-mate Kovalainen. Tyre degradation is still an issue for the Italian who has not been a fan of the new Pirelli's ever since the first test in Valencia.
Jerome d'Ambrosio - 20th - Probably the most satisfying weekend of his three-race career after he out-qualified and out-raced his experienced team-mate. He hardly put a wheel off line and will be hoping for more of the same when he returns to the wheel in Europe.
Timo Glock - 21st - He spent most of his race looking in his mirrors and obeying blue flags. It's not an unusual scenario for a Virgin driver to find himself in, but it was made all the worse by the close fight at the front which meant he almost came to a halt at one point in order to get out of the way.
Tonio Liuzzi - 22nd - His first race finish of the season and a pretty good recovery drive after serving a penalty for a false start. Despite the drive-through, he finished just 17.7 seconds off Glock's Virgin which is promising ahead of the car's first major upgrade in Turkey.
Narain Karthikeyan - 23rd - His first race finish this season, which is an achievement in itself, but it's slightly disappointing that he ended up behind Liuzzi who lost roughly 20 seconds with a drive-through. He was the only driver to one-stop but it probably didn't save him a huge amount of time.
Jaime Alguersuari - DNF - loose wheel - The worrying sight of a wheel bouncing towards a bunch of marshals signalled the end of his race after Toro Rosso failed to secure his right-rear during his first pit stop. He had been experiencing high degradation up to that point and had moved backwards from his promising seventh-place grid position.
Laurence Edmondson is a deputy editor on ESPNF1
Chris Medland is an assistant editor on ESPNF1