Saturday, April 17, 2010

F1 - Some thoughts before tonight's race in Shanghai

I'm really looking forward to following via Live Timing and downloading the BBC's coverage of the Chinese grand prix. With Red Bull simply dominating the qualifying sessions for all the races this season and proving in Malaysia that once the reliability issues are sorted out that they do have a winning car with their impressive 1-2 finish with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, I wouldn't be surprised if they pull it off again tonight with the grid starting out once again with Vettel (who won last year's Chinese gp) and Webber in the front row. Funny enough, their qualifying times didn't reflect any sense of loss of pace after the FIA's ruling on any active ride height suspension systems, which Christian Horner has previously denied Red Bull of having. As Vettel goes into the China race with only 25 out of the 75 points he should have, I wonder if the other teams' cars will have caught up come Barcelona. I also find it quite extraordinary how level headed and seemingly happy-go-lucky Vettel seems to be, even after all those issues. It's clear he's an extremely talented driver in an exceptionally fast car, and I can only imagine how frustrating his situations at Bahrain and Australia must have been.

It's also interesting to see how the much anticipated return of Michael Schumacher has panned out. He received the majority of the pre-season attention and interest directed at the Mercedes GP team, but his young team mate, Nico Rosberg has consistently kept faster lap times, qualified and finished better than him. It is noted in interviews that the car is not up to pace with the front runners, but I don't find that an excuse for his pace falling consistently behind Rosberg's. Is this relatively unfamiliar phenomenon of Schumi being out shone by his team mate just an effect of the rustiness accrued by three years of retirement? Or, perhaps, has something changed in the in the seven time world champion? In interviews, he seems much more relaxed and friendly, taking more time to answer questions, and even in his driving, the fierce determination and ability to really push seems to be lacking, with the on board lap at yesterday's qualifying looking very calm and steady. I wonder if the steely drive to win, and the willingness to do anything for that domination will come back with time, or if he plans to make the rest of his F1 career relatively clean and without incident? The days of seeing his parked car around a corner and him accusing others of attempting to kill him may be long gone.

Oh--and, um, Ferrari's engines. That's all I need to say. I'll throw in "reliability" if you're not clear on what I mean. As the race is almost underway, I'm excited for the Chinese GP to inevitably surprise me.

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