F1 News, Views and Reviews

China GP 2010: Button Wins Chaotic Race

Jenson Button won a chaotic Chinese Grand Prix today, as he battled through variable rain and dry conditions steering his McLaren to a second win of the season.

His team mate Lewis Hamilton battled on into 2nd place, and they were joined on the podium by Nico Rosberg who led for part of the Grand Prix.

Race Review

Fernando Alonso appeared to get the best start, jumping the two Red Bull racing cars of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.  However jump was appropriate as the Spaniard had been judged to have jumped the start, and was handed a drive through penalty.

The cars spent the early few laps snaking around the circuit as light rain spots fell making it difficult for some.

Tonio Liuzzi got it all wrong on the first lap and slammed into Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi, nearly knocking Rubens Barrichello out of the race too.

Some of the teams decided to pit for intermediate tyres, and some stayed out.  Those that remained on track seemed to have played a brilliant hand, as Nico Rosberg on the slicks set far and away better lap times than many others, including his own team mate Michael Schumacher who admitted he jumped onto the wet tyres too quickly.

As their intermediate tyres wore down they were forced to pit again, and those at the front, including Rosberg and Robert Kubica pulled well clear of the ailing field.  By this point, Fernando Alonso had been into the pits an astonishing 3 times, but the final time he had managed to slip passed his team mate on the pit entrance to get a better position and not be held up at the stop.

Speaking of dangerous pitstops, it is of great surprise Sebastian Vettel nor Lewis Hamilton were penalised for their pitstop incident where Hamilton was released into the path of Vettel, yielding slightly he raced neck and neck down the pitlane with the German forcing him towards air guns and mechanics before drag racing down to the first corner.   Hamilton once again not penalised, nor was he for forcing Mark Webber off track when the safety car came in following Jaime Alguersuari’s accident with Bruno Senna.

That safety car restart was a congested one as new leader Button forced everyone to standstill at the hairpin before the main straight causing a big back up and nearly some huge accidents.  Uncalled for, and in contravention of rules once again.

Drivers battled through from the back and Lewis Hamilton managed to squeeze into 2nd place, with a great battle with the ailing former hero Michael Schumacher who seemed to go backwards all afternoon in the Mercedes eventually clinging on to one point.

Fernando Alonso had a stellar drive into 4th, unlucky to miss out on a podium.  Kubica ended 5th with team mate Petrov 7th.

Red Bull really threw this race away and only ended up in 6th and 8th.  A poor afternoon by all accounts.

Race Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 J. Button McLaren 1.44.42.163
2 L.Hamilton McLaren +1.530
3 N. Rosberg Mercedes GP +9.484
4 F. Alonso Ferrari +11.869
5 R. Kubica Renault +22.213
6 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault +33.310
7 V. Petrov Renault +47.600
8 M. Webber Red Bull Renault +52.172
9 F. Massa Ferrari +57.796
10 M. Schumacher Mercedes GP +1.01.749
11 A Sutil Force India Mercedes +1.02.874
12 R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth +1.03.655
13 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari +1.11.416
14 H. Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth +1 lap
15 N. Hulkenberg Williams Cosworth +1 lap
16 B. Senna HRT Cosworth +2 laps
17 K. Chandhok HRT Cosworth +4 laps

Retirements:

Driver Team Lap Reason
J. Trulli Lotus Cosworth 27 Hydraulic
L. di Grassi Virgin Cosworth 9 Unknown
P. de La Rosa Sauber Ferrari 8 Engine
S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 1 Accident
K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari 1 Accident
V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes 1 Accident
T. Glock Virgin Cosworth 1 Unknown

Post Race Interviews

Jenson Button (McLaren) – 1st:  “For me, it is my best victory – every one you win becomes your best victory but this was was pretty tough conditions.  The good thing is our pace was very good today. It wasn’t just the call of weather, it was good pace. At the end we were two seconds a lap quicker than other people. We will don’t know where we are in the dry, but we will forget about it at the moment.”

Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) – 2nd:  “I had quite an eventful race.  Congratulations to Jenson, he did an incredible job and made a better choice on tyres.  It was tough at the beginning, the weather was not easy for making the call to change tyres. I chose very late when I was halfway around the corner and clearly it was not the right choice.  We both did a tremendous job, and it’s down to the awesome job the team are doing. We are working very well and it’s great for the team.”

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes GP) – 3rd:  “I think it was good call [To stay out on the slick tyres].  I took the advice from the team and my engineer and eventually decided to give it a go and stay out and it turned out to be really good. Out there you want it to stop raining, it was so on edge.  That went really well and it was nice to be leading the race for a long time from there. I got a little more tyre degradation than Jenson.  I made a mistake so he came by, but in general I am really, really happy it is a good step in the right direction.”

Robert Kubica (Renault) – 5th:  “It was an exciting race today and it’s good to have scored some more points.  At the start of the race I made a bad start and lost a lot of positions, but we made the right decision to stay out on slicks when it started to rain and I was able to move up through the field into third place.  However, the critical moment of my race was when the safety car came out, which ended my hopes of a podium because I lost the big lead I had to the cars behind me.  So although I’m happy to finish fifth, I still feel a bit frustrated to have missed a podium.”

Mark Webber (Red Bull) – 8th:  “We got blown away so it was a very difficult grand prix for us.  We weren’t quick enough, simple as that.  They were changeable conditions but it’s the same for everyone, and the car is very sensitive in these conditions if it is not going one way or the other for you. Interesting grand prix.  We know (where we lose out in these conditions) and we have got to improve it.”

Pedro de La Rosa (Sauber) – Ret:  “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. I enjoyed overtaking and then I was in fourth.  When you are in a situation like this you really have to finish. We missed a great chance today.  I don’t know what exactly happened.  I felt there was something wrong with the engine and then stopped in Turn 9.”

Tony Fernandes – Team boss of Lotus: “I’m really happy today as we’ve accomplished what we said we’d do,” said Fernandes after Heikki Kovalainen finished in 14th position, one place head of Nico Hulkenberg.  We wanted to see at least one car cross the line for the first four races, and we’ve done that, but it’s kind of bitter sweet today.  It’s obviously a great result for Heikki but a real shame for Jarno as he seems to take the brunt of the issues – it’s a bit odd as it does seem to be just his car.  The conditions today made it very tense out there and it’s very satisfying, and shows how we’re progressing, that today we were racing Williams, who we beat on track.”

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