Another early start if you wanted to watch live in the UK, but we think it was worth it! Take a look at our Top 5 review of the Chinese Grand Prix.
Oh No, Antonio!
Brought in to cover for Pascal Wehrlein, the very talented Ferrari third driver Antonio Giovinazzi would have quite rightly been excited to have a proper shot at it this weekend, after a last minute call up in Melbourne certainly showed promise. However, luck was not on Giovinazzi’s side in China, with the curtailed Friday practice meaning he had less time in the car, and a Saturday Quali spin on the main straight during Q1 meaning that, although he’d made it through to Q2, he’d take no further part. The Sauber team then had a mammoth rebuild on their hands.
Starting from 18th today, his race was full of promise until he seemed to push a tad too hard and spun, clipping the pit wall, perhaps seeing an opportunity to pounce after teammate Marcus Ericsson went off and re-joined the main straight just ahead of him. The ensuing safety car that came out whilst the marshals attended to the aftermath of his prang certainly changed the shape of the race.
Whether we will see Giovanazzi racing in Bahrain remains to be seen, but with the gap between races only one week, will Wehrlein be fighting fit and ready? He may yet get another chance in his Sauber understudy role to show us what he’s got.
What’s In A Name?
It was a bad day for getting names right on the Mercedes team radio today, which of course, was entertaining for us! We ended up with both Jean-Eric Verne and Nico Rosberg joining us during the race – did you spot these radio moments?
Firstly, Lewis Hamilton’s race engineer Pete Bonnington, or Bono as we know him, warned him that Vergne was now behind him. Oops! Not unless he’s joined us from the Techeetah Formula E team! We knew that changing Max Verstappen from VES to VER, previously used by Vergne, would end up catch someone out!
Trust Mercedes to make light of it on their social media, and yes, JEV joined in too!
Our second renaming of the race come when Valtteri Bottas’ race engineer Tony Ross, told him “We still have the potential for P4 here, Nico…err, Valtteri, so keep pushing”, quickly correcting himself. Old habits die hard, Tony, easily done! I’m sure you miss Nicola…sorry, Nico!
Whilst the McLaren Honda car might not be everything that Fernando Alonso would have hoped this season, it has treated us to some fine offerings from Fernando Alonso over the team radio, and this weekend was no exception – we got ‘Spaniard with attitude!’ Following up on yesterday, when Nando shared with us that he was “driving like an animal”, today his race engineer Mark Temple came under fire for the regular comment we hear from them all when they remind their drivers to have a drink during the race.
“I don’t need (insert money in the swear box here) drinks! There is enough concentrating to keep the car on the track!”
Well, it was quite damp out there, so potty mouth Alonso could be forgiven for focussing his attentions to keeping his car on the black stuff.
Our next radio gold came at around lap 13, when he was informed that fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz was running fastest at that time. “I’m quickest on track in the corners!” he said, just making that little point to Honda that he had previously said similar to at winter testing.
Keep it up, Fernando, you animal, you!
We can’t talk about the race in China without mentioning Max Verstappen and his amazing overtakes. We all knew that an out-of-position Verstappen starting in 16th spot on a damp day would add some spice to the race as he came through the field, and as Max himself mentioned in his podium interview, he passed nine cars during lap one alone. By lap 10, he sat in third, just behind his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, before making that move too – completing more overtakes than in the whole Australian GP two weeks prior! And some drivers say you can’t overtake in these cars now…hmm!
(It is worth noting that non-DRS overtakes made for a far more exciting race – take note Liberty!)
As always, Max divides opinion on social media, and although once again voted Driver of the Day, his radio whinges regarding blue flags when behind Romain Grosjean did not go down well in general, especially considering he was not within one second of him when he began to call it into the team. However, you can’t deny his entertainment value!
We must mention our race winner, Lewis Hamilton, who took drove a faultless race, leading from beginning to end, which is not as easy as it sounds given the conditions where others were seen to make mistakes on the patchy, drying track. Taking pole, leading every lap, the win, and the fastest lap gave Lewis his third Grand Chelem in China this weekend.
A 54th GrandPrixx win for Lewis, now joining Michael Schumacher as the only other driver to win 5 times at 3 or more circuits, and equally Alain Prost on 106 podiums during his F1 career.
We now head to Bahrain with Lewis and Seb equal on points, and the battle will continue. To quote Lewis himself “This is going to be one of the closest, if not the closest, fights I have experienced, and I’m looking forward to it!”
Bring it on!