The ninth running of the Chinese Grand Prix is in the history books, providing thrills and spills from the first to last lap. Can the Badgerometer narrow all the excitement down to five stories? Let’s find out!
Everybody should write a “thank you” letter to Pirelli
We could write a whole dissertation on the excitement the race in China gave us all at Badger, about the close racing, differing strategies and a first time winner. But, one thing would be a constant throughout – the Pirelli tyres.
Now, this isn’t the first time they’ve made the Badgerometer this season, and we doubt this will be the last. The Italian company has put themselves out on a limb to create a product that goes completely against the brief for a tyre company. That’s what they’ve done, and we are experiencing the dividends every F1 Sunday afternoon (or early morning).
In addition to being the great equaliser – especially for teams like Sauber – they are also proving to be the Rubik’s Cube for each team on the grid. Get them working, in either hot temperatures (like McLaren have) or cooler (like Mercedes this weekend) and you’re laughing all the way to the podium.
Ugly noses save lives.
Who remembers Valencia 2010? OK, maybe not the whole race, but Mark Webber’s accident was the most noticeable moment from that afternoon’s racing. On Sunday, it nearly happened all over again. Without a Heikki Kovalainen in sight.
While Mark was very, very lucky not to go airborne once more, it’s a great example of how far the regulations have come since that fateful day in Spain. More specifically, the stepped, “ugly” noses.
Who says the FIA don’t know what they’re doing?
It wasn’t as close as we thought
Many newspapers, websites, blogs and know-it-alls have been reporting that Jenson Button was robbed of a chance of the win when his last pit stop went tits up.
“How do you know that?”, I hear you all cry.
Say that pitstop had gone all to plan. Button would have come out about three seconds ahead of the-then second place man Felipe Massa, and would be around 12-13 seconds behind Nico Rosberg, with 15 laps to go. The ball would be firmly in the Brit’s court, but asking him to claw that gap back in that space of time, in our eyes, seems a bit too much of an ask for a McLaren that wasn’t working amazingly in the cooler temperatures.
Whether he could have overhauled the Mercedes is another question, but it would’ve been a lot harder than some people are making out.
Mercedes join the party
This wasn’t just a big win for Nico Rosberg – the German marque of Mercedes needed this win, and dare we say it, more than Keke’s boy did.
It’s been two full seasons of investment since they took over Brawn GP at the tail end of 2009, and bar a couple of podiums in the first half of their first year, it’s been a very barren return. Fair play to their commitment to the sport – and the fact that they are not afraid to spend the occasional Euro to get what they want – but the question marks had started to circle the team like vultures over a fresh carcass.
They’ve all been expelled now. One win was all it needed – more on that coming right up – but if the team continues to get their Pirellis up to speed like they did in Shanghai (and not like they didn’t in Oz and Malaysia) then the Silver Arrows should be at the sharp end of the pecking order or on a regular basis.
Nico FINALLY delivers
You can’t help but see a few shades of comparison between Nico and another young German first-time race winner from a few years ago. Take the rain and extra surprise away from Sebastian Vettel’s maiden triumph in Monza four years before, and it’s pretty much identical.
There was just this calm assurance from Rosberg that nothing was going to go wrong for him, from Saturday’s and Sunday’s sessions. Getting pole by half-a-second was simply stunning, considering the fact that in the previous two races, where Mercedes were very fast in Q3, he cracked under pressure and ended up a lot further down than he should’ve been.
In the race, he was simply magnificent. The only man that could have really challenged him, Michael Schumacher, dropped out, so it was a case of maintaining the gap to anyone who had the pace to challenge. Over the final few laps, it looked like the Mercedes man had driven a completely different race to everyone else. He even had a pitstop in the bag to boot. Incredible.
The hard work will now have to begin, starting in Bahrain almost immediately, but that big question that hung around his neck for far too long has now been answered – Nico Rosberg can win races!