Last year China was the first race when Red Bull looked slightly vulnerable and it was also first victory of the year for Lewis Hamilton who managed to finish the race five seconds ahead of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel.
UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX
Circuit: Shanghai International Circuit
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.451 km
Race Distance: 305.066 km
Lap Record: 1:32.238 – M. Schumacher (2004)
The Chinese Grand Prix of 2011 was a classic led by six different drivers, but in the end it was Lewis Hamilton the right man in the right place so with only 4 laps to go he managed to pass Sebastian Vettel for the lead and win the race.
After the race Sebastian Vettel said that he’s “not disappointed” with the second place, and considering that he suffered more KERS and radio problems, and a certain Mr. Jenson Button MBE in his pit box. It was a rookie mistake made by the 2009 world champion which made many of us smile, and it seems that Jenson was way too busy looking at his steering wheel while driving down the pit lane and pulled into the Red Bull pit in error. Vettel joked after the race: “Imagine if they’d changed his tyres! I’d have had to go into the McLaren pit and ask nicely.”
After the race Lewis seemed to be in a daze, struggling to remember the daring move he’d pulled on team-mate Button. It must have been hard to keep himself composed after a last minute fright in the garage before heading to the starting grid.
The McLaren wouldn’t start because its engine was flooded. Cue bodywork off, paper towels at the ready and a new air filter. Hamilton made it out just before the pit lane closed. Thirty seconds later he’d have had to start last. As the afternoon unfolded it would be McLaren tasting champagne, but Red Bull were pleased to have weathered a troubling afternoon with second and third to show for it. It was clear the team would need to get a handle on its KERS system before the Turkish Grand Prix in three weeks time. It side-lined Webber in qualifying and was intermittent on Vettel’s RB7 in the second half of the race.
Another team with tons of work ahead was Williams. They were in the worse season start since 1979, Sir Frank’s team was unable to score a single point in the first three races of the season. Chairman Adam Parr hinted he would make seismic changes, which included the disposal of technical director Sam Michael who is now with McLaren.
Jaime Alguersuari lost a wheel on his exit from the pits on lap 10, forcing his retirement from the race. He was the race’s only retirement, meaning that this race set the record for the most finishers (23). The record was beaten later in the season, in Valencia, where all 24 starters finished the race.
The race cut Sebastian Vettel’s championship lead to 21 points from second placed Lewis Hamilton, with Red Bull constructors lead to McLaren falling to 20 points. Hamilton was ecstatic after his victory, saying “It was one of the best races I’ve experienced. It feels amazing to be able to bring home a victory for the guys in the factory.”
Sources: McLaren, R.B. Racing, Formula1.com, Wikipedia, GP WEEK, Google Images, Zimbio