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Old 13 Apr 2018, 00:45 (Ref:3815121)   #1
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Chinese Grand Prix 2018 - Grand Prix Weekend Thread - Round 3 of 21

Like Bahrain, the Chinese Grand Prix made its first foray into Formula 1 in 2004. At a time of expansion of the sport, moving away from its concentration on the traditional homeland of Europe, it was an obvious choice to head to the world's most populous country.

The arrival of the world championship in China had been due to come some years earlier. Zhuhai, located in Guangdong Province in the south of the country, was built for F1 and on the provisional calendar for 1999, but fell foul of the FIA's stringent standards.

The debut race five years later was won by Rubens Barrichello in his Ferrari, while his world champion team-mate Michael Schumacher had a scrappy race, starting from the pitlane after spinning out in qualifying and then ending the Grand Prix in 12th after another spin, a collision and a puncture.

In 2005, Shanghai hosted the season closer and newly-crowned first-time world champion Fernando Alonso took the race victory and helped to seal Renault's first constructors' crown. As he did the previous year, Michael Schumacher had to start the race from the pitlane after a collision with Minardi's Christijan Albers on the way to the grid. Schumacher subsequently spun out of the race. Speaking of Minardi, this was the final race for the Faenza-based team before its acquisition by Red Bull, who converted it into Toro Rosso and for Jordan who morphed into Midland the next year, before becoming Spyker and then eventually Force India. It was also the last time we saw a win for a car with a six-speed gearbox (many teams were already running seven-speed gearboxes that season, including Ferrari).

In 2006, there had been talk that GP2 champion and rising star Lewis Hamilton would start his career as early as China, but in the end McLaren stuck with Pedro de la Rosa, a shrewd choice one would fathom, for Lewis hadn’t had much meaningful testing by that point. Michael Schumacher made amends for the last two Chinese escapades by winning and putting himself equal on points with Fernando Alonso but ahead on countback to keep himself in frame for the title (one he was not to go on to pull off). This turned out to be his 91st and last victory.

It rained before the race and Schumacher, who had started in 6th, scythed his way through the field. Race leader Alonso's pace had dropped away dramatically in the wet and he had been passed by Michael, when he finally pitted for dry tyres and suffered a wheel nut problem, which put him yet further back. He eventually caught up with Schumacher, but could only finish runner-up, three seconds back.

The 2007 Chinese Grand Prix bore witness to a dramatic denouement in the championship fight as McLaren riskily kept Lewis Hamilton out on struggling tyres, in a bid to keep him in contention for the win, prompting him to wear them down the canvas. Lewis went into the race leading the championship by 12 points after Alonso had crashed out in the wet in Fuji. He was therefore in with a good chance of being the only person in history to take the championship in their maiden season.

They arguably focused too much on the implications of the race on his battle with Alonso and didn't see enough of the threat coming from Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen taking the Chinese victory for the Scuderia, while Lewis's race ended frustratingly in a gravel trap on the pitlane entry. Ron Dennis made what were to become notorious remarks that “we weren't racing Kimi; we were racing Alonso”.

In 2008, Lewis took victory over Massa setting himself up for the championship win he was to take by a whisker in the next and final race in Brazil, which so nearly slipped through his fingers again.

Shanghai switched to the early part of the season in 2009 and Jenson Button and Brawn's dominance in the seven races was only broken by Red Bull's first ever win, which came in the Chinese Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel led Mark Webber home in a 1-2 and Button took the final spot on the podium in a wet race.

Following his switch of teams, it was Jenson Button who topped the podium in 2010, this time making it a McLaren 1-2 after a race in wet conditions, with Lewis Hamilton second. It was the first British 1-2 since 1999 (Irvine and Coulthard in Austria) and the first English 1-2 since 1969 (Hill and Courage in Monaco). Following this fourth race in the championship, Jenson was leading the championship again.

The next year, Lewis Hamilton only just avoided having to start from the pitlane, as he left for the grid with 35 seconds to spare following a fuel problem. He went on to win the race with three stops, becoming the first driver to take two wins in Shanghai, beating Sebastian Vettel and his two stops. Lewis's team-mate Jenson Button lost time when he stopped at the Red Bull pit on Lap 15.

Nico Rosberg had often gone well in China and in 2012 he took his first Grand Prix victory and the first win in the modern era for Mercedes-Benz, by almost 21 seconds from the McLaren pair of Hamilton and Button. In a race with heavy degradation, Fernando Alonso took victory with Ferrari the following year.

Despite being the largest country in the world by population, a Chinese driver has never raced in Formula 1, although Ma Qinghua participated in Free Practice for Caterham and also did some FP sessions the previous year with HRT.

2014 saw Lewis Hamilton top the podium and lead home a Mercedes home, with the chequered flag erroneously being waved a lap early at the end of Lap 55. This saw the race result declared as things stood at the end of Lap 54.

In 2015, Lewis Hamilton was the first driver to get back-to-back Chinese Grands Prix victories as he again showed Rosberg the way home. A year later, Rosberg sort of turned the tables on Hamilton, taking victory from Vettel and Daniil Kvyat. Kvyat’s Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo had beaten Rosberg into the first turn but dropped back after a tyre failure on Lap 3, eventually coming home in fourth.

Last year, Lewis Hamilton beat Sebastian Vettelm while Max Verstappen had a superb drive from 19th on the grid to complete the podium.

Sebastian Vettel heads into this edition of Shanghai as championship leader having surprised some with victories in the opening two races. While it was always expected that Ferrari would have a good car, what has perhaps been more surprising has been Ferrari’s ability to seize tactical advantage, making up for some errors along those lines in previous seasons. After taking advantage of the virtual safety car in Melbourne, they well and truly beat Mercedes at their own game in Sakhir, who after the Brackley-based team one-stopped Bottas and put him on his long stint on mediums, responded in kind with a great drive from Vettel to take his softs to the end.

After a fascinating race strategically in Bahrain with a variety of one and two-stop strategies playing out on different compounds, we may be in for a treat in China with the three available types of rubber, as the supersoft from last year has been dropped, to be replaced by the ultrasoft, giving us, with the soft and medium available, a gap in the available compound selections. This could promote some bold thinking.

The Shanghai International Circuit, one of Hermann Tilke's creations, has a layout based on the Chinese symbol 'Shang' - 上 - the first character in the name of the city itself, which means 'above', 'ascend' or 'high'. In a further nod to Chinese symbolism, standing aside the main grandstand are the two traditional Chinese lions often found in front of Chinese buildings, guarding the guests, while water, a major factor in the decorating concept of feng shui is found in the lake which encircles the team buildings. It would be fairer to call these team pavilions, as they were crafted to resemble Shanghai's ancient Yuyan Garden.

Shanghai offers up an interesting challenge to the drivers and teams, with some long, winding curves where finely-judged throttle control and decent aero stability are an asset, in addition to long straights where they will want as little drag as possible.

Turns 1 and 2 are basically one long corner, albeit with two apex points. Into the first one, drivers go down the gears to about 6th as they touch the apex, before patiently letting the car roll through the corner and dropping to as low as 2nd gear before hitting the second apex. Hitting the Turn 3 apex, the car is then just kept level as they go through Turn 4 (effectively making it one corner with Turn 4 just an exit of Turn 3), before the slight kink at 5. Braking downhill into Turn 6, drivers then approach a faster section.

They head for the most intense complex, approaching Turn 7 with quite a late apex and keeping some throttle down during the turn before getting fully back on the power and swinging right into 8. A short straight is followed by Turns 9 and 10, two slower left-handers following in quick succession, which lead onto a significant straight.

Heading into Turn 11, a left-hander, drivers soon need to be getting it into 12, as they hit the DRS Detection Zone 1 and go through this long, long right-hander which takes them through to Turn 13 too, a continuation of this. After the longest straight on the circuit (1.17km) and DRS, they jump on the brakes between the 150 and 100 metre boards and go through the tight and then more open rights at Turns 14 and 15. Drivers pick up the second DRS Detection before the final corner, which is a quick left-hander which favours those prepared to risk it and carry a lot of speed in the curve. Braking a bit early here can be an advantage as the corner is short and quick and hurls the drivers back onto the start-finish straight.

Circuit length: 5.451km
Number of laps: 56
Race distance: 305.066km
Dry weather tyre compounds: Medium, Soft and Ultrasoft
Lap Record: 1:32.238 (2004– Michael Schumacher – Ferrari)
First Grand Prix: 2004



Constructors' Championship standings: https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2018/team.html

Drivers' Championship standings:
https://www.formula1.com/en/results....8/drivers.html

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Old 13 Apr 2018, 02:35 (Ref:3815125)   #2
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Skam85 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridSkam85 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridSkam85 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
Great write-up once again! It was a case of what might have been for Schumacher in 2012, with a wheel issue costing him a big chance at a 92nd win...
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Old 13 Apr 2018, 04:42 (Ref:3815129)   #3
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E.B should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridE.B should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridE.B should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
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Great write-up once again! It was a case of what might have been for Schumacher in 2012, with a wheel issue costing him a big chance at a 92nd win...
He was nowhere near Rosberg's pace all weekend, and retired on lap 12, so to say he had a big chance of winning is a big call. Maybe a podium was on the cards.

China was always his bogey track, losing it behind the safety car and crashing on the warmup lap in previous years. He only ever won the race once indeed just that one podium out of 6 attempts. By 2012 he was past his F1 use by date I fear, a shadow of his former self.
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Old 13 Apr 2018, 06:33 (Ref:3815141)   #4
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Skam85 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridSkam85 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridSkam85 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
Don't mean to be too nit-picky here but it was pretty close between the two that weekend.

FP1 Rosberg was ahead by 0.200, Schumacher ahead in FP2, Rosberg 0.100 ahead in FP3.
Q1 Rosberg just edged him, Q2 Schumacher, Q3 Rosberg and MSC shared the front row but Rosberg just over half a second ahead.

Agree that he was definitely past it by 2012, but this race was probably his best chance for one final win, and arguably the closest he got to Rosberg in their time together.
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Old 13 Apr 2018, 07:08 (Ref:3815144)   #5
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chunterer has a real shot at the championship!chunterer has a real shot at the championship!chunterer has a real shot at the championship!chunterer has a real shot at the championship!chunterer has a real shot at the championship!
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Don't mean to be too nit-picky here but it was pretty close between the two that weekend.

FP1 Rosberg was ahead by 0.200, Schumacher ahead in FP2, Rosberg 0.100 ahead in FP3.
Q1 Rosberg just edged him, Q2 Schumacher, Q3 Rosberg and MSC shared the front row but Rosberg just over half a second ahead.

Agree that he was definitely past it by 2012, but this race was probably his best chance for one final win, and arguably the closest he got to Rosberg in their time together.
Don't forget the Monaco pole that never was 😉
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Old 13 Apr 2018, 07:12 (Ref:3815145)   #6
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Don't forget the Monaco pole that never was ��
he had a lightning start until Grosjean drove into him as well!
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Old 13 Apr 2018, 08:03 (Ref:3815158)   #7
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S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!
I remember him admitting that Rosberg was just that too fast for him in qualifying. I seriously doubt he would have challenged Nico in that race.

Anyway, anything interesting happen in practice this morning?
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Old 13 Apr 2018, 11:37 (Ref:3815186)   #8
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Excellent intro.

Not one of my favourite races on the calendar and personally one that doesn't need to be on it. However, purely from a racing point of view, it will be interesting to see if Ferrari/Vettel can capitalise on their wins at Melbourne and Bahrain.
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Old 13 Apr 2018, 13:06 (Ref:3815203)   #9
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it will be interesting to see if Ferrari/Vettel can capitalise on their wins at Melbourne and Bahrain.
If I'm correct, the last time a driver who won the first two races and then didn't go onto win the championship was Prost in 1982. Rosberg was the champion, and he only won one single race that entire season!

Hopefully history repeats itself and Vettel loses the championship while Hamilton takes it out with just one victory.




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Old 13 Apr 2018, 13:55 (Ref:3815212)   #10
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If I'm correct, the last time a driver who won the first two races and then didn't go onto win the championship was Prost in 1982. Rosberg was the champion, and he only won one single race that entire season!

Hopefully history repeats itself and Vettel loses the championship while Hamilton takes it out with just one victory.




Hamilton will have to have a lot of second places and Vettel a lot of bad finishes and DNFs, for a repeat of 1982.
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Old 13 Apr 2018, 14:09 (Ref:3815214)   #11
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S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!
Also more races will make it harder, as is the fact Merc have a car more than capable of winning the title
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Old 13 Apr 2018, 14:47 (Ref:3815228)   #12
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djinvicta has a real shot at the podium!djinvicta has a real shot at the podium!djinvicta has a real shot at the podium!djinvicta has a real shot at the podium!
Cheers as always BR. Brilliant write up.
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Old 13 Apr 2018, 21:45 (Ref:3815278)   #13
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If I'm correct, the last time a driver who won the first two races and then didn't go onto win the championship was Prost in 1982. Rosberg was the champion, and he only won one single race that entire season!

Hopefully history repeats itself and Vettel loses the championship while Hamilton takes it out with just one victory.




How does a statistical anomaly, appearing once every 36 years, count as history repeating itself? Are we really in the realms of stretching so far to make a point just to enforce a driver hatred?
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Old 14 Apr 2018, 03:42 (Ref:3815340)   #14
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Razzzor should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridRazzzor should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridRazzzor should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
Or like Ocon's Gp3 championship where he got just 1 win, but 10 2nd places. Compared to Kirchhofer and Ghiotto winning 4 races each. Strange season that one.

Almost as odd as Bayliss winning 14 of the first 17 races in Superbikes 2002, then finish 2nd 7 times in the final 9 races, only for Edwards to win all those 9 races and take the title.
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Old 14 Apr 2018, 03:55 (Ref:3815342)   #15
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Dixie Flatline should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Ricciardo's turbo went pop during the free practice. Horner sounded very annoyed with Renault when interviewed by Sky Sports during the session.
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