Text: Alex Yoong / Photos: | posted April 12, 2012 20:49
Chinese Grand Prix
We head into this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso leading the F1 Drivers championship.
Ferrari has been about a second off the pace in the opening two rounds and it was down to Fernando’s brilliant win in the wet at Sepang that has led to this unexpected classification.
Despite it being very early in the season, there is already one driver under tremendous pressure. Felipe Massa has been terrible so far this season and he really needs to turn in some big results, and fast.
With his team mate Alonso winning the last race, and Ferrari junior driver Sergio Perez finishing second, Massa may find himself out of a seat by a third of the way through the season.
While McLaren have locked out the front row in both races are currently leading the constructor’s championship, they will be disappointed not to be in front of the Drivers’ standings.
Button losing a front wing against Karthikeyen at Sepang and Hamilton’s lack of race pace in both races have contributed to this. But both drivers know they have the car to win and most people will be betting on a one-two finish this Sunday.
While McLaren may have been quickest in qualifying so far this year, the down-the-wire competitiveness of the field means you can never take anything for granted. Red Bull, Lotus, Mercedes are all right there and it only takes an inspired choice on car setup, or a bit of driver magic to make a difference.
And let’s not forget the mid-field teams as they are also close enough on race pace to make a difference. The Sauber in Perez’s hands was a real weapon in Sepang and finished a well-deserved second place on merit. They, and others like Torro Rosso or Williams, are all capable of springing a surprise.
Shanghai is a super smooth circuit with no bumps, which means teams will be running their cars low. The back straight is over a kilometer long, which means there will be lots of overtaking too.
Last year, saw perhaps too much overtaking with a single DRS zone and with that staying the same for this year, expect an overtaking fest in the race.
Lewis Hamilton is one driver that will be happy that overtaking is possible in Shanghai as he will have a five place grid penalty as McLaren had to change his gear box. He has taken pole in both of the races this year so far, and will be determined to get a win. Expect a charging drive similar to last year from the Brit.
Rain is forecasted for the weekend, so making predictions is almost impossible. As we saw from the last race, changing condition open the race to just about anybody.
Who knows, we may even see another Ferrari victory.