Today saw a top-notch performance by McLaren to claim the first British one-two finish in over a decade, but what was happening a little further down the pack? Badger’s got you covered, as we go beyond the headlines at the Chinese Grand Prix.
First off Badger would like to offer some hearty congratulations to Vitaly Petrov after he scored his first F1 points. The ‘Vyborg Rocket’ certainly lived up to his nickname today, grabbing several positions in the latter stages of the race to take 7th at the chequered flag.
Petrov has struggled a bit thus far in 2010. Sure, he’s looked quick at times, but there have been spins and technical problems that resulted in him heading to China with no points on the board whilst teammate Robert Kubica had earned a very impressive 30.
Today it all came together for the Russian. He ran in the top 5 early on after deciding not to change tyres and was able to hold a strong position until midway through the grad prix.
Then things got a bit leary. On lap 33, under pressure from the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso, he had a spin. But, crucially, he was able to keep the car going and launch a second assault on the top 10.
With his tyres in better shape than those in front of him Petrov really shone in the closing stages of the race. First he put a solid move on Jaime Alguersuari with 10 laps to go; next up he cruised past the struggling Michael Schumacher with five to go. Then he reeled in Mark Webber with ease, the Aussie struggling on his wrecked intermediates. Webber’s car got sideways and Vitaly calmly snuck through for 7th.
With teammate Kubica finishing 5th it was a good day all round for Renault. The Pole’s performances this season have caught everyone’s attention, and that only added pressure to Petrov. Today’s race doesn’t elevate him to the status of superstar, but it’ll certainly silence some of his critics- including this humble pie eating reporter.
Just two weeks ago Badger asked you to spare a thought for the Sauber team after a nightmare Malaysian GP. They’d shown some real promise but engine failures meant they came away empty handed.
Today we’re making a very similar request for an outpouring of Sauber Sympathy. Perhaps everyone could send a card with ‘keep your chin up, Pete’ or something similar written inside to Peter Sauber. He’ll need some cheering up after another terrible day.
Young charger Kamui Kobayashi was eliminated on the first lap, a victim of Tonio Liuzzi’s spinning Force India. No fault lies with Kamui- it was plain bad luck.
But things were looking up for old hand Pedro de la Rosa, who ran a very impressive 4th in the early stages after correctly electing not to change his tyres. But, once again, Sauber were in for a letdown. On lap 8 his engine began smoking and his race was soon over. Of course we don’t know where Pedro would have ended up had his car lasted the distance, but that’s part of Sauber’s frustration: they’ll be wondering what might have been. Here’s what de la Rosa had to say post-race.
“Of course I am deeply disappointed. We made all the right tyre decisions. I started on slicks and managed to stay out in the drizzle. When you are in a situation like this you really have to finish. We missed a great chance today”.
2010 has treated returning team boss Peter Sauber badly, and after 4 races they’re yet to score a world championship point. Let’s hope their luck turns before too long; if it doesn’t Sauber could well be looking for a buyer for his team sooner rather than later.
A word on the new teams, who all in all had a pretty quiet day. That was especially true of Virgin, whose cars managed a total 8 racing laps on the Shanghai circuit. Timo Glock was left stranded on the grid and didn’t even make the start, whilst Lucas di Grassi retired on lap 8. Virgin on the ridiculous? Sorry, it had to be said.
A better day for Hispania, who on Friday announced Sakon Yamamoto as their test driver. The Japanese racer competed in F1 on and off in 2006 and 2007, and will be taking part in Friday practice for the rest of the season.
Today the Hispanias came home 16th and 17th with Senna and Chandhok respectively. Okay, they were the last two cars on the track, but they’re showing impressive reliability. All they need now is some speed.
And so on to Lotus. Heikki Kovalainen finished a solid 14th, ahead of the Williams of Nico Hulkenberg, and only 1 lap down on the leaders. Jarno Trulli failed to finish, but overall these guys looked the best of the newboys at the Shanghai circuit. Can they get among the midfield by the season’s end?
Finally, hats off to the pitcrews, who had a very busy day today. Ferrari and Red Bull both made 8 pitstops, whilst McLaren and Mercedes made 6 each. After a leisurely season opener in Bahrain, where the drivers were only stopping once, the pitcrews were really earning their money today.
So plenty of stories from across the pitlane in Shanghai. Got any more to add? Well, then why not let us know. That is once you’ve written your sympathy letters to Peter Sauber, of course.