Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Hamilton said it was one of his best wins

Lewis Hamilton won a sensational Chinese Grand Prix with a stunning drive despite a fuel leak just minutes before the race.

Two-stopping Sebastian Vettel led for a lot of the race but had to give way to the charging Hamilton and finished second ahead of Mark Webber who stormed through the field from 18th on the grid.

“I never really knew right to the end I could do it,” saidHamilton. “It is one of the best grand prix wins I can remember.

“I could not believe I was catching Vettel. He was putting up a great fight and it was great to get by him.”

Webber denied Jenson Button the final podium by passing him into the hairpin on the penultimate lap.

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg finished fifth ahead of the two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.

His team-mate Michael Schumacher crossed the line in eighth and Vitaly Petrov and Kamui Kobayashi rounded out the scoring positions.

Fuel leak

Hamilton’s race began twenty minutes before the lights went out after the team discovered a fuel leak on his McLaren when they fired it up in the pits.

Mechanics stripped the car down andHamiltononly made it out of the pit-lane 30 seconds before it closed. Had the recovery job have taken any longer he would have had to start from the pit-lane.

Once on the grid things could not have got better for McLaren as Button andHamiltonpassed Vettel onto the run-down to turn one, who had to try and hold off the fast-charging Rosberg.

Schumacher, Rosberg and Webber were the first to pit and started setting fastest laps as the front-runners struggled with worn tyres.

Ahead of the first-stop Vettel passedHamiltonto take second at the hairpin and followed race-leader Button into the pits on lap 15. But the Brit extraordinarily drove into the Red Bull pit box and had to be waved through allowing Vettel to overtake him in the stops.

Button said he was looking down and made a silly error but stressed that it made little difference to the end result.

Mercedes lead

Rosberg took the lead onceHamiltonstopped as a result of his quick laps after pitting early and had a comfortable lead over Vettel and the two McLarens.

The leaders split strategies with Webber, the McLarens and the Mercedes’ choosing three-stops with Vettel and the two Ferraris pitting twice.

The German world champion led after Rosberg’s stop on lap 27 but the longer the race went on the more he struggled to conserve his ageing tyres.

Hamiltonpassed Button into turn one on lap 36 and Rosberg into turn four on lap 42 as his challenge came alive.

The Brit’s fresher rubber madeMassaeasy prey and he set off after Vettel who he passed four laps from the flag.

Massawas caught by both Rosberg and Button in the closing stages but the German ran wide trying to overtake the Ferrari driver and cheaply surrendered third to Button.

But neither had any answer to Webber’s extraordinary pace at the death as the Australian set fastest lap after fastest lap. Racing at two seconds of a lap quicker than Rosberg and Button he reeled them in and passed both in the final five laps.

“Emotional”

But it was Hamilton who had the largest smile on the podium after securing his 15th Grand Prix victory – and his first sinceBelgium eight months ago.

“You put so much into a season with preparations over winter. It feels like a long time since I won a GP (Belgium, August 2010). It feels like an eternity.” saidHamilton

“The emotion comes from the desire to win and to be better and to compete against tough rivals. When you haven’t won it feels like an eternity.

“The car has been great and we are having to push with everything we have to close the gap. We were smarter on strategy and on making it work.”

The result will provide a massive boost for Hamilton and McLaren just twenty-four hours after he had claimed Red Bull would dominate the next few races.

Vettel and Red Bull still lead the championship standings as they F1 circus heads toEuropefor the Turkish Grand Prix in three weeks time

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McLaren have not won a race since Belgium in September 2010

McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button believe they will catch Red Bull soon but admits it could be “several races” until they overhaul them.

Hamilton’s comments come after Sebastian Vettel swept to his third consecutive Chinese pole position and was more than seven-tenths quicker than Button.

Vettel has been in supreme form recent having won the last four races, three of them from the front of the grid.

And Hamilton, who qualified third in Shanghai, just behind Button, has warned McLaren need to win the off-track development battle if they want to seriously challenge for the end-of-season honours.

“We’re doing our best to catch up,” said Hamilton when asked if Vettel would continue to dominate.

“It’s encouraging for us to have been on the first and second row for the first three races, considering where we were in winter testing.

“It is possible but I’m sure it will take several races, probably, before we get to where they are now.

“But I’m sure they will also make many, many steps forward, so we will continue in the chase, and hope that our development rate can be as fast as theirs, if not better.”

Button said he felt if any team could catch Red Bull, it would be McLaren.

“There are 24 of us on the grid and there’s only one person that’s ever going to be completely fulfilled with their race result,” he said.

“We are in a better position than anyone else on the grid to challenge the Red Bulls. We should be happy with that and what we’ve achieved so far this year.

“This is a team that will never give up. They’ve fought for so many World Championships and they have the resources, they have the manpower and they have the passion to really fight for this.”

And world champion Vettel is well-aware that the up and coming European season will give Red Bull’s rivals a chance to catch-up.

“I think once we go to Europe then it’s a bit easier to bring the parts, customs are less strict,” Vettel said.

“I think that to stay where we are now we have to keep pushing hard because I can assure you, people like McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari are not resting at this stage, so we have to keep pushing at least as hard as they do.”

Quotes from Press Association

Vettel secured his fourth consecutive pole with ease

Red Bull enjoyed mixed success as Sebastian Vettel secured his third consecutive Chinese pole position but Mark Webber will start 18th after dropping out in Q1.

Vettel was 0.715 seconds quicker than McLaren’s Jenson Button who joins him on the front row.

“The gap surprised us. Obviously we did it again but I try to remind myself and the team that every time is tough. It wasn’t straightforward,” the world champion said afterwards.

Lewis Hamilton will line up third tomorrow ahead of Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg who drove a flawless lap to secure his best grid position for twelve months, ten places ahead of team-mate Michael Schumacher.

Ferrari pair Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will start on row three but were a staggering 1.5 seconds off the pace.

Jaime Alguersuari and Paul di Resta both made it into Q3 for the first time in their F1 careers to qualify seventh and eighth. Sebastien Buemi and Vitaly Petrov rounded out the top ten.

Such was Vettel’s dominance he did not bother to complete his second flying lap in Q3 as he strolled to his eighteenth career pole position – drawing level with the likes of Hamilton and Mario Andretti.

But Webber did not enjoy the same serenity as he crashed out in the first qualifying session after choosing to run on the slower harder tyre, only to be squeezed out by Williams’ Pastor Maldonado as the chequered flag fell.

“It was a very frustrating day,” said Webber. “We just weren’t quick enough at the end of the day.

“I thought we had enough to get through but that’s the way it goes, we had a few plates spinning.”

It was the first time a Red Bull car had failed to get through Q1 since Vettel failed to during a wet qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2009.

McLaren duo of Button and Hamilton once again provided the opposition to Red Bull but will be disheartened by the large margin between the teams having run them close seven days ago in Malaysia.

“I thought we could fight for pole, but the pace of Sebastian in Q3 was phenomenal,” said Button. “This is my best grid slot of the year and from where we were on Friday we’ve improved the car a lot.

Hamilton chose only to run once during Q3, unlike Vettel and Button, and will have an extra set of fresh soft tyres for tomorrow’s race.

But most of the drama came with Webber’s demise in Q1 and Petrov’s breakdown in Q2.

The Renault driver lost power after completing a fast lap which brought out the red flags with just two minutes of the session remaining.

When the session resumed five minutes later, eleven cars jostled in the pit-lane to get best track position. Renault team-mate Nick Heidfeld was Petrov’s chief casualty as the German had not set a time and had his lap subsequently ruined by traffic.

New Teams

The first session saw Lotus, Virgin and Hispania occupy their almost customary back three row slots.

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer for Lotus, told The Chequered Flag that the team were not quite ready to make it into Q2 but said it “was coming”.

Both Virgin and Hispania cars qualified within 107% of the fastest lap in Q1 set by Rosberg.

Vettel, searching for his fifth consecutive race victory, tomorrow will bid to become the first man to win two Chinese Grand Prix when it starts at 8am (BST).

 

 Classified Results:

1. Sebastian Vettel                    Red Bull               1.33.706

2. Jenson Button                       McLaren             1.34.421

3. Lewis Hamilton                    McLaren             1.34.463

4. Nico Rosberg                        Mercedes           1.34.670

5. Fernando Alonso                Ferrari                1.35.119

6. Felipe Massa                         Ferrari                1.35.145

7. Jaime Alguersuari             Toro Rosso        1.36.158

8. Paul di Resta                        Force India        1.36.190

9. Sebastien Buemi                 Toro Rosso        1.36.203

10. Vitaly Petrov                    Renault                N/A

11. Adrian Sutil                       Force India        1.35.874

12. Sergio Perez                      Sauber                  1.36.053

13. Kamui Kobayashi           Sauber                  1.36.236

14. Michael Schumacher   Mercedes            1.36.457

15. Rubens Barrichello      Williams              1.36.465

16. Nick Heidfeld                  Renault                1.36.611

17. Pastor Maldonado       Williams              1.36.956

18. Mark Webber                Red Bull               1.36.468

19. Heikki Kovalainen      Lotus                     1.37.894

20. Jarno Trulli                  Lotus                     1.38.318

21. Jerome d’Ambrosio  Virgin                   1.39.119

22. Timo Glock                   Virgin                   1.39.708

23. Vitantonio Liuzzi       Hispania             1.40.212

24. Narain Karthikeyan  Hispania            1.40.445