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Chinese GP Day 1: Vettel holds McLarens at bay
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Chinese GP Day 1: Vettel holds McLarens at bay
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Apr 2011   |  10:32 am GMT  |  101 comments

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel headed the times at the end of the first day of practice for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Vettel: Long runs strong (Red Bull)


The 23 year old world champion, who has led 109 of the 114 racing laps this season and taken pole in both Grands Prix so far, edged out the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

The times for all three men were set at the same time of the afternoon on new soft Pirelli tyres. But there was an interesting variation whereby Vettel’s time was set on the third lap of the run, while Hamilton’s and Button’s were on the first.

Button went on to do a longish run on the soft tyres, with laps in the mid 1m 44s, while Hamilton radioed in to say that the tyres were “finished” and he pitted at the end of that lap. Both McLaren drivers said that the car worked better on the hard tyre than the soft.

Vettel’s pace on long runs was strong and consistent. He did a 19 lap run at the start of the afternoon session on the hard tyre with laps mainly in the low 1m44s, working down to high 1m 43s. Team mate Mark Webber, who focussed on race preparation, didn’t do a new tyre performance run. Their combined work indicates that the Red Bull is looking after its tyres well. Webber did a 13 lap run on the soft tyre with times in the low 1m 43s, which no other team was able to match. Massa’s equivalent run in the Ferrari was in the high 1m43 and low 1m44s.

The Mercedes looked more competitive than of late with Nico Rosberg’s 1m 37.9s lap on soft tyres catching the eye, although it’s difficult to know whether he was carrying much less fuel than the Red Bull or the McLarens, which certainly didn’t appear to be running on low fuel.

Fernando Alonso’s afternoon was interrupted by a hydraulic issue which sidelined him for much of the second half of the session. He managed to get a run on soft tyres at the end. Nick Heidfeld lost much of the afternoon session after an off damaged his front wing and he had to be pushed back into the pit lane by mechanics for repairs.

Paul Di Resta missed the second session with a fuel system problem. “I think that I am a little more disadvantaged than I have been at any other Grand Prix now because effectively I have lost three sets of tyres and the important part where you try to do a bit of qualy and race simulation,” said the Scot.

Further back in the field was something to keep an eye on; Virgin had a frustrating afternoon, with an exhaust problem for Glock, but still managed 47 laps between the two cars. D’Ambrosio made a small mistake on his new tyre run, but was still slower than the Hispania cars. Fuel loads unknown, but it could be quite interesting back there in first qualifying tomorrow.

The 107% time from today was 1m 44.526, which was half a second slower than D’Ambrosio’s time.

Additional reporting: Tom Clarkson

Chinese Grand Prix, Free Practice 2
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m37.688s 34 laps
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m37.854s + 0.166 22 laps
3. Jenson Button McLaren 1m37.935s + 0.247 31 laps
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m37.943s + 0.255 34 laps
5. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m38.105s + 0.417 29 laps
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m38.507s + 0.819 36
7. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m38.735s + 1.047 35 laps
8. Nick Heidfeld Renault 1m38.805s + 1.117 26 laps
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m38.859s + 1.171 31 laps
10. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m39.327s + 1.639 33 laps
11. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m39.538s + 1.850 33 laps
12. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m39.667s + 1.979 37 laps
13. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m39.771s + 2.083 18 laps
14. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m39.779s + 2.091 17
15. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m39.828s + 2.140 25 laps
16. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m39.925s + 2.237 32 laps
17. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m39.953s + 2.265 30 laps
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m40.476s + 2.788 30 laps
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m41.482s + 3.794 32 laps
20. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m42.902s + 5.214 25 laps
21. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1m43.850s + 6.162 3 laps
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m44.008s + 6.320 35 laps
23. Timo Glock Virgin 1m44.747s + 7.059 12 laps

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101 Comments
  1. Dale says:

    WEll from what I saw today the GRand Prix isn’t going to be much fun as the Bulls are firmly in charge.
    It will tell us a lot about Webber though as if he doesn’t beat the others I think he’ll be doomed, loosing out last year when he should have won has (in my opinion) affected his brain in a negative way, few ever recover when this happens (the same is being said of Massa).

    1. Andy C says:

      I think McLaren will be taking the fight to Redbull. I still think the Vettel RB7 combo is the quickest, but McL proved last time out they’ve got genuine pace.

      Couple that to the kers problems the ‘bulls are having and the circuit and I think it will be close.

      Still concerned to see Lewis and his tyres are toasted comments.

      1. Dale says:

        I think, as Button (or was it Hamilton) said the true pace of the Bulls was masked with their need to open up their cooling for the last GRand Prix, something McLaren don’t have to do and from today’s driver comments it’d appear as though the new McLaren mods are not giving the gains expected.
        I really hope I’m wrong as nobody (surely) wants to see a car romp to a win from pole?!

    2. Tom says:

      Hamilton managed it OK. I think Massa’s problem was more to do with the massive head trauma, and Webber was in a fortunate position last season due to a lot of rookie and technical failures by Vettel. Not deriding him, but Vettel had the results; just with a host of mistakes too.

    3. Leo says:

      James what is happening at Red Bull ?
      is this the Marko way ? How come only Mark has problems and Seb none > I suppose Horners comment last year about building the team around Vettel is coming home !
      Very poor as we all know Mark can take it to Seb, br he needs equality, do you think he is getting it.
      I am very doubtful !!
      Hope it does not become a boring season like when Michael wons his titles with the team only behind him !!

  2. Michael says:

    So Virgin could be at the back of the grid this weekend, think we’re finding out how a CFD only strategy works … or doesn’t!

    Red Bulls looking strong again, can’t see them being beaten unless a McLaren, or Renault with their wonderful starts, jumps them off the line. Don’t think they’re too far behind though and it should all start to close up over the next few races.

    Looks like a 2 stop race this weekend, wonder if we’ll see someone 1 stopping like Perez did in Oz, that’ll be interesting.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      HRT proves that it’s better to develop a car without anything rather than with CFD alone.

      1. Ram says:

        How long will Virgin stick with their approach if HRT starts beating them in a regular fashion … or is it to early to make a call ..

      2. Chris Hill says:

        LOL. I would like to read a comprehensive interview with Geoff Willis (preferably on this site James “nudge nudge”) to get a feel for how the chief designers job is at the cash strapped level. It seems to me he has produced a decent (its all relative) car in a smaller amount of time than Lotus did last year and I bet for a lot less cash. how does having this little resource affect the thinking process??

        I wonder what if anything Pat Symonds has done since being hired by virgin as a consultant. My guess would be only to say “use a wind tunnel lads, trust me”

      3. Matthew says:

        Haha – brilliant.

        A car penned in MS Paint and aerodynamics tested using nothing more than a 1:32 model in a stiff breeze and it still might beat the Virgins.

        It seems Nick Wirth’s CSC-borrowed super-computer needs a reboot.

        Slightly off-topic – isn’t it lucky that CFD seems to work better for planes than it does for F1 cars – yikes!

      4. Matthew says:

        NB:

        I shouldn’t actually laugh. I’m a huge Ferrari fan, so haven’t got much to crow about at the moment.

        I think I’m reverting to a let’s all point and laugh at Virgin and maybe we might not notice that Ferrari haven’t faired much better either.

        There’s still time I suppose.

      5. C says:

        CFD is far easier on planes than on cars, and airplane design hasn’t moved much at all in 50 years as far as aerodynamics go. Look at a commercial plane built in the 50s, and then look at the newest from Airbus and Boeing: They are extremely similar, with most major changes coming not from aerodynamics, but materials. The industry is a whole lot more interested in ridiculous reliability than it is in improving performance through aerodynamics, especially given that for planes, the best way to burn less fuel is to carry less weight, and that is more about materials and structure mechanics than anything else.

        CFD is a great tool for cars, given that it can provide you a far quicker turnaround on new ideas than having to build models and put them through the wind tunnel: If something doesn’t work at all in the CFD model, chances are it won’t in the wind tunnel either.

        And it’s not like wind tunnels are perfect: There’s all kinds of things that you just can’t simulate properly in a wind tunnel. The ultimate solution is testing, which is why Ferrari has a track sitting right next to the factory. But with private testing banned, everyone runs a risk of spending many man months on an idea that the simulations say is good, but actual testing shows is a dog.

      6. Tom says:

        This has a lot to do with tyres, CFD doesn’t cope with them well at all presently.

      7. Jo Torrent says:

        @Tom Reply

        I don’t think that CFD will ever succeed in modeling tyre’s wake.

      8. newton says:

        no, it doesn’t prove anything. the virgin car is slow, but cars are complex and consist of much more than the aero packaging. how much of the performance deficit is down to the cfd approach? how much is chassis etc?
        i suspect a newey car designed with cfd would still be faster than the virgin with a wind tunnel.

    2. ACB says:

      I think the trouble Virgin Marussia is having isn’t so much that CFD is to blame but rather they didn’t develop much over the winter CFD or otherwise, but rather worked on reliablity and getting the car to 2011 specs. Which doesn’t appear to have been all that effective. Unless of course CFD stands for ‘can’t find downforce.’

  3. goferet says:

    Okay, we have began the season proper & it seems a whole lot of teams have awoken.

    I predict positions P3 P4 & P5 are going to be hotly contested for just behind both Red Bull for with Mercedes & Ferrari in the mix, you wouldn’t want to miss tomorrow’s qualifying.

    Honestly Vettel has the 2011 titles firmly in grasp, it’s no longer funny though he’s not doing himself any favours by winning from pole.

    My advise to Vettel would be to sand bag during qualifying then come out with all guns blazing during the race

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      I predict that your predictions are wrong and that’s easy. McLaren and RedBull will lock the front 4. Ferrari will battle with Renault and Mercedes will battle with Sauber.

      And I predict that Williams will beat HRT and I’m taking a big risk with the this prediction.

      1. The other Ian says:

        I agree with Jo about the first 4 places on the starting grid. I wonder if it will be different come the first corner, knowing how fast the Renaults seem to start off the line.
        I can’t see Williams not finishing ahead of HRT, although I can see HRT finishing ahead of Virgin, assuming both HRT and Virgin actually qualify with the 107% rule.

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        it was only to emphasize how bad is Williams. Of course they’ll beat HRT.

      3. 4th try says:

        Quali they should (Williams beat HRT), but in the race an HRT may make it to the finish line while Mald will probably spin and crash it while Barichello will either lose his mind like in Australia or have mech problems.

        I’m going with McLaren and RBR to make the top 10. Ferrari wont be up there for China I’m guessing. Sauber may get a car or two in the top 10. Williams probably wont. Force India probably wont. Torro Rosso isn’t likely.

        Renault probably both will and Mercedes will fill the gaps if that makes any sense.

        Lotus will be near the back and do better in the race than quali. Virgin will lose to HRT but sitll believe CFD is better, HRT will use beating a virgin car as proof that they are brilliant.

      4. Galapago555 says:

        What if I predict that Jo’s predictions about goferet’s predictions could prove wrong?

    2. Oukil says:

      haha, nice advise for Vettel, but maybe not until gets a huge and confortable lead in the championship!!

    3. Andy C says:

      Lol. I’ve had such an intense week at work, but thanks for making me chuckle ;-)

      I’m with JT, I think its Redbull and McLaren for the top 4 places.

      Good on HRT once again! Proving that windtunnels work (at least in Brackley if not maranello)

      1. Jo Torrent says:

        lol

    4. CF says:

      Ha ha, I would really like to see Vettel getting his hands full and fighting the likes of Alonso and Hamilton.

  4. Paul Mc says:

    Mirror image of Malaysia I feel. Vettel has got speed to spare and should comfortably win barring any mishaps in Quali.

    1. Andy C says:

      Paul, are you the same Paul Mc on twitter from FI?

      1. Paul Mc says:

        Yeah I am. Although I had to close my twitter account yesterday due to college. It’s too addictive :) hopefully I’ll get it up and running again in June

  5. Ahmed says:

    Well done HRT!

  6. **Paul** says:

    I think Webber will be quicker here than a lot of people are giving him credit for.

    I think McLaren could be in for a tough race given their tyre issues, and Hamilton’s qualifying could be comprimised by his tendancy to lock tyres which cost him in Malaysia to some degree, he can’t be doing that tomorrow morning or he’ll pay dearly I feel.

    It’d be nice to see the Mercedes cars challenging the McLarens, Ferraris and Renaults too. If Seb strolls off with the win so be it, but a battle royale behind him would make for some excellent entertainment, I’d love to see Schumacher and Rosberg in cars that are as quick as the McLarens!

    1. Rekha says:

      Me too, I would like to get a feel of the good old day again with Schumacher.
      Schumacher winning again:)

    2. 4th try says:

      Webber was leading China RBR 1-2 Webber Vettel until it started raining last year.

      I think we could see Jenson genuinly beat Hamilton if things don’t change on pure pace and ability to drive to the conditions.

      i.e. not stratergy calls or tyre changes or pit stops or getting stuck behind, but actually seeing Jenson drive faster than Hamilton.

      Just my thoughts

  7. Chapor says:

    I am very happy about the relative progress by the HRT’s… :-) I wish them a good weekend and a strong race finish.

  8. Jo Torrent says:

    Your report is worrying James

    I’d rather see Hamilton win than Vettel, something I haven’t dreamed of saying but if the German keeps winning week in week out no matter the dozens of overtakes in every race the season will be boring.

    They need to find a solution like penalizing Vettel for the finger he shows after qualifying or putting Newey on 3 months forced holidays as part of the Resource Restriction Agreement.

    1. Mark L says:

      Totally agree, I’m always giving him the middle finger, and I’m sure Newey needs a few years out of the sport by now, it must be stressful for him.

    2. Rich C says:

      Newey should definitely be banned in the interests of fair competition.

    3. Matthew says:

      Here here.

      -10 points per finger wave IMO, it’s gratuitous. With at least 2 per weekend, we may extend the life of this championship.

      I’d like Vettel to finish 13th – would make his waving more interesting.

      Is anyone else getting very bored of Seb winning races?

      It’s not that I don’t think he deserves it, I just think it’s too easy – the car is a second a lap faster than anything else and even Seb must recognise that he’s putting in the F1 equivalent of a trip to Sainsbury’s every Sunday – it’s tedious!

      Barring his phenomenal drive in the wet at Monza (which was still pole to flag but I’ll allow it given the circumstances!) – has he ever won a race that wasn’t boring, or even one that required an overtake that wasn’t complete by turn 1?

      I don’t think he has.

      Sebastian loves the records and history books but he needs to be careful because yes, Schumi won several snooze-fest WDC’s in the halcyon Ferrari days but he’d already proven himself by beating everyone when not in the fastest car.

      At this rate, has Seb REALLY shown that he’s any better than Damon Hill? I remember Damon being a dab-hand at driving around quickly with not a soul in a sight.

      But what’s a man to do? You’re never going to turn down the fastest drive… oh, hold on, that’s exactly what Schumi did.

      1. James Allen says:

        Can we take it easy on the anti Vettel stuff? I don’t mind constructive points which us why this one was cleared, but we are going to cut out the bashing from now on

      2. michael says:

        Interesting James. I remember last years Hamilton bashing on exactly this blog. Superb it may be your blog but back then the bashing would begin at times with a tasty head line and no JA stepping in with the above request.

        something is clearly different about your site this season and I mean it in no negative way.

        m

      3. Rubinho's Keyfob says:

        I don’t think these comments were particularly aimed at the driver, but the situation that the driver finds himself in.

        The point being made, I think, is that if we see the same driver (whoever that is) consistently take pole, get 8s or so in front within the first 10 laps and then not have to overtake anyone for the whole race who isn’t either in the pits or getting out of the way because they are being blue-flagged, then no matter how many DRS/KERS assisted overtakes (or even straight forward driver-on-driver out-breaking thrilling overtakes) we see, there is something missing.

        To me, watching an F1 season has many layers:

        1) The second-by-second skill shown by the drivers at each passing opportunity. This is the stuff that gets the adrenalin pumping and what makes us jump up and down (in euphoria or frustration) during a race.

        2) The strategies of the teams and how they play out over the course of the two hour race. This is the stuff we discuss and analyse over the course of the race.

        3) The season-long championship battles. This fuels layers (1) and (2) – particularly if you think your favourite driver or team are still in a position to take a title.

        The problem is, if you largely take away (3) by having one driver/team being head and shoulders above the rest and just walking away with the titles, then the excitement of (1) and (2) are seriously diminished, to the point where people may not even watch some of the races where overtaking is generally not expected much.

        The reason why 2008-2010 were exciting seasons was because layer (3) was alive and uncertain right until the last race or so (2009 only because Jenson lost it towards the end). Unfortunately, it seems that the DRS/KERS and other FIA initiatives are only targetting layers (1) and (2). And as we are seeing so far this season, (1) and (2) do not necessarily feed (3).

        So, I don’t think it’s Vettel-bashing, he just finds himself as the villain in a situation it seems many people hope won’t pan out as it currently is for the whole season.

      4. BMG says:

        Come on James,we need a talented German to bag.

      5. James Allen says:

        LOL! Well you’ll have to bag him (and any other drivers) somewhere else!

      6. Matthew says:

        I think maybe I’ve been a bit flippant and not got across my real feelings towards Seb Vettel.

        It’s clear that Seb is a class act and any frustration about the situation is perhaps borne from predictability creeping in to the F1 weekend.

        Positions 2-24 are as exciting as ever but it would be nice to really have to ponder who might win, whilst at the moment, one knows that in the hands of Vettel, the Red Bull package (barring mistakes / rain, and perhaps even rain as Seb is awesome in the wet) is just out of reach.

        Seb is an superb driver, I don’t think anyone doubts that. I suppose I’d like to see him have to show a bit more of his racing skills for his wins but I don’t begrudge what he, or Red Bull have and are achieving.

        The season is long; there’s a world of development to be done and we’re very far away from a whitewash. So, being sensible, let’s not get too carried away.

        That said, if no-one manages to catch Newey technically, then I’d love to see Lewis go to Red Bull and then we’d see a battle royale – wheel to wheel, I’d have to back Lewis!

        Regardless, roll on Sunday!

      7. Anil says:

        ‘has he ever won a race that wasn’t boring, or even one that required an overtake that wasn’t complete by turn 1′

        Erm, Melbourne? Which was only 2 races ago, surprised you forgot about that.

        There’s no point hating on Vettel tbh, i don’t think he’s near Kubica, Alonso and Lewis but he keeps pulling off perfect w/e’s, and fair play to him. When he has a midfield car you judge him on his ability to fight through the field but we haven’t seen this type of domination over the whole weekend from a driver since Michael in 2004. The only reason people didn’t say the same about him was because he had proved he could fight his way through the field; Vettel hasn’t had that chance yet.

      8. Nick Hipkin says:

        I too would like to see Seb is some wheel to wheel battles and made to work for his points but remember he has already driven a midfield car – the torro rosso in 08, and he won a race in it.

        Im finding the racing frustrating at the moment, especially with these tyres but there can be no doubting sebs talent

      9. Luke Robbins says:

        To be fair to Sebastian (love how Rocky his race engineer pronounces that) it’s definitely not all the car.

        Obviously the car helps, but the guy still pulls it out every time. Last week in Malaysia, he hadn’t been top in any session. OK he may have been sandbagging bla bla bla, but on the last lap of quali, he pushes it and puts it on the pole by 1 tenth. You can’t judge that, he was flat out and it was that close. Hamilton beat Webber, the difference was Vettel.

        He’s class.

      10. Mario says:

        Red Bull in hands of Vettel is a mighty bit of machinery. I do not find it boring at all. In fact I am amused how every one is forced to react to Vettel’s and Newey’s brilliance.

        And it causes all sorts of reactions, form frustration to envy, from amazement to joy (Vettel’s fans).

        Even Lewis Hamilton’s relationship with Mcca is showing first serious cracks because of this. Lewis looks across the garages, points to RB and says: look! make me a car like theirs or I will go.

      11. Nil says:

        Those six points that came of some decent bit of passing in the closing stages of Silverstone last year went a long way in winning him the championship.

    4. For Sure says:

      Haha thats funny but nothing new. Schumacher was banned a few races in 94 and Alonso’s Monza 2006 penalty comes into my mind.
      Yep, Vettel domination is bad for business so if we still have Max, he would do something. Not sure what Todt would do tho.

    5. For Sure says:

      I got a better idea, why dont they transfer Newey to Mercedes so that we can see Schumi starts wining.

  9. Hingo says:

    What interests me is the battle at the back of the grid this year. HRT seem to be drawing the support of many F1 fans for their gritty determination and are beginning to look serious about challenging Virgin Racing. HRT are bringing updates to races this year which is a nice change from last year.

    Word on the street is that Nick Wirth needs to bring something big in terms of updates to Virgin or face the axe.

    Team Lotus seem to be close to mixing it with the established teams and it is also very exciting to watch their progress. The car looks amazing and I think Heikki is starting to relish the challenge.

    1. Chris Hill says:

      The issue with Virgin (over and above only using CFD) is if they give Wirth Research the axe then they have a bigger problem. They dont have a design office or even a contruction facility all of this side of the team is handled by Wirth Research and would be like starting a team from scratch. And I know it doesnt look good but Wirth can do the business there LMP2 and the highcroft racing LMP1 cars are the class of the field (at least the LMP1 is the “petrol” class of the field) so CFD must work,my guess is its down to beardies lack of will to invest more than £40M per year. Which even with CFD only really gives you 2 decent updates a year. If they had more cash they could make more of the parts the CFD system spits out saying they are better than the existing parts

      1. Onyx says:

        If the bearded one is putting anything like £40m a year into that team i will ‘do the proverbial’and eat my hat!He always does things on the cheap…

      2. Jo Torrent says:

        the level of competition is completely different between F1 and LeMans. Look at Peugeot which stint in F1 was a disaster, it’s very successful in LeMans.

    2. Rich C says:

      Which street would that be, Hingo?

      The one named ‘I am a part owner in this team’ ?

      Or the one named ‘I am the entire design department’ ?

      Difficult to cut either, I’d say.

      1. Hingo says:

        Having a share in the team doesnt mean Nick gets to decide whether he will design the car or not. If the other shareholders (notably Virgin and Marussia) think they could get a better car elsewhere, I am sure there wouldn’t be much stopping them.

  10. David A says:

    All in all interesting session. Bulls seem to be slightly further ahead then Malaysia, but then they (Vettel) never really had to stretch their legs.

    The fast starting Renaults should be the ones to look out for after the bulls due to their race wrecking abilities at the start of the race. FP3 should shed more light on respective long run pace. :)

  11. kostre says:

    Hello James
    I used to like following your ‘friday form guide’ article on ITV F1 page, i was wondering if you don’t write that article anymore. The other thing is that how early will the redbull’s will finish off the season? I am guessing that pireli and the new regulations might be on cause if the competetion is knocked out too early into the season.

  12. Jo Torrent says:

    On Hamilton / McLaren stong ties
    *****************************

    In Football when a club president says often that he’s committed to his manager you know with certainty that the sacking is in the pipeline.

    These recent weeks a lot of vows of commitments are aired between Ham and McLaren which lets you think that the Briton is looking for somewhere where the grass is greener. Problem is where the grass is greener is the territory of other lions and as we know 2 lions can’t share the same territory without blood being shed.

    1. Stevie P says:

      I guess a lot of drivers\agents will, as the players\agents in football do (to pick up on the football analogy), keep their eyes open for other prospects… no? So maybe he is seeing what’s available elsewhere, McLaren (and other teams) will be keeping their eyes open too (for drivers, engineers\designers etc) despite suggestions (now) of longer contracts for their drivers. It’s natural.

      And I don’t think Hamilton is afraid of taking anyone on – he’d back himself against anyone. There are lots of drivers currently on the grid who have that attitude, so I concur that there’d likely be tension (or sheding of blood)… but again, that’s natural surely? If you can’t win; next target is to beat your team-mate :-)

      1. Stevie P says:

        And when I say “beat”… I don’t mean with a stick (to shed blood) ;-)

        However, you can say that IF Ham was looking about, then Ferrari would be off limits for the time being :-) I don’t expect to see Fernando and Lewis paired up again in the same team, in the future… do you? :-)

    2. Luke Robbins says:

      Vettel would beat Hamilton at Red Bull. Either by talent or old Marko pulling moves from within.

      Hamilton tries to bring the psychological stuff ( he thinks he is senna remember) but he can’t actually handle it and makes mistakes.

      Vettel is a cool character, he is laid back and happy go lucky. Mind games wont worry him and i’d advise Lewis to stop bothering and concentrate on not messing up his tyres or old JB will be cruising past….

    3. Born 1950 says:

      Yes, but ain’t it fun watching?

    4. craigdaly77 says:

      His comments make him look nothing but arrogant and immature. If he wanted to be the all mighty champion he claims to be then he should help the team rather than bitch about them. They are the second fastest car on the grid, it’s not like mclaren have suddenly started running midfield and are shaming themselves. Time to grow up Lewis and stop throwing your toys out of the sandpit before you have none left

    5. Mario says:

      Just read an article in the Guardian about it. Hami is not a happy bunny, no, no.

    6. Brad says:

      I agree and what a lovely analogy!

    7. Damian J says:

      Where else would Hamilton go besides Redbull?

      The odds would favour Hamilton staying at McLaren as they are a top team and will provide Hamilton a chance of winning the WDC as much as any other top team over the next few years.

      And it’s nice to see a top driver show some loyalty rather than keep swapping teams according to the highest bidder.

  13. Luke A says:

    James, I think Jenson would have beaten Vettel’s time had he not got caught up in traffic on the 3rd lap on his soft tyres.

    Also, I think the reason why Hamilton only did 1 lap and then reported the tyres were finished, was that he must have locked up and flat spotted them in the 3rd sector (possibly after the long straight), because after the 2nd sector, he was 3 tenths up.

    Either way though – there concern is not 1 lap pace, but race pace. They look miles away at the moment. I guess they might go back to their old floor seeming as this new one looks like it create difficult balance for the drivers without adding any significant performance gain.

    1. The other Ian says:

      Agreed. An unbalanced car is just going to destroy the tyres. You could of got away with it last year, due to the Bridgestones, but not with the Pirellis this year. Sort out the balance, and then add the speed.

  14. Jeroen says:

    Of vettel wins this one and the next Newey can start on 2012 car!

    Poor Williams their poor form is reflected in their share price, €17.50 now! Anyone here bought any?

  15. manos says:

    James it would be interesting to write something about the great english team called Williams and the problems that they are facing.Also what about the changes that might occur in the technical department?

    Thnaks,
    Manos

  16. Skanda says:

    I get a feeling RBR are toying with the opposition. They seem to perform only enough to be a little ahead of the chasing pack with plenty in reserve.

    And whats happening with Hamilton – he has been on something. He has gone saying that loyalty means nothing to him and reverting himself to he is committed to McLaren on Friday. He seems so confused and frustrated chasing the Bulls.

    1. Phill says:

      He has *not* said “Loyalty means nothing to him”. This is a complete misrepresentation of what Hamilton said.

  17. Favomodo says:

    So it’s Red Boring Racing again.

    Vettel is gonna win this easy from pole. I think they’re playing the whole game. Saying it is tough out there and the others aren’t far away, but instead Vettel drove with much reservation in Malaysia. He could have gone a lot faster. Once they really get to know how the Pirelli’s behave on different circuits, they’re really unstoppable.

    Sorry for the rant, but I don’t like seasons with one strong contender. And I don’t like races with a pole-sitter as winner.

  18. devilsadvocate says:

    James,
    One observation I have alwas had, and I’m sure a lot of the board would be uterested to hear you thoughts on, is the “Lewis is harder on his tires” talk, I think it is something exaggerated by critics but played down by fans. I seems he can manage his tires in terms of peak performance as lon as others but then seems to just throw the towel in when maximum lap time is no longer possible, as seen by his dramatic off and resulting pit stop 4 laps from the end of malaysia. It seems a button or Vettel type could stretch a few more laps at proportionally slower pace on tyres that Hamilton would say are “finished”? Other than china 07? I don’t recal any set of hamiltons tyres beig completely spent when he pits, it seems more a lack of ability (or perhaps lack of desire) to lap a worn tire to stretch out his stints. Would he really have had to lap 5 seconds slower over the last 4 laps to not crash thus justifying his 21 second stop? He seems to dramatically state in races that his tires are “finished” or beg for another pit stop (korea2010) when it will obviously lose him positions but then post race talks about things like the team pitted me too soon or I managed my tres as good as the next guy. Again interested in your observations given the particularly volatile tire discussions this year.

    1. James Allen says:

      We are all still evaluating. He did well in Australia

    2. Dale says:

      I think Hamilton will always be slightly harder on his tyres than others as unlike the others he mostly drives on the limit, that’s what makes him the supreme racer he is.

      That said if needs be he can look after his tyres as well as anyone

    3. ACB says:

      Recall what Button said in the post race interview last week, he mentioned that going easy on the Pirellis isn’t always the best procedure and can in fact make them worse. Hamilton, as well as other drivers can say things over the old R/T that they need to take back post race or the Team Principal will chock up to a bit of the red mist.

    4. Mario says:

      I think Hamilton’s problems come from his frustration of not being able to fight at the sharp edge for yet another season, which is understandable. However the way he handles it is strange. He throws a tantrum and talks of his possible departure from Mclaren.

      1. ACB says:

        I’d agree if anything its frustration, I don’t think Hamiltion is l’enfant terrible.

  19. Andy C says:

    I’m predicting a McLaren winner. Possibly a Hamilton pole position and a Button win.

    And in that respect, I’m on my own :-)

    1. Galapago555 says:

      I’ve actually put my money on a Vettel/Hamilton win. Believe it or not,
      . ;-)

  20. PaulL says:

    Mark Hughes wrote for Autosport Plus that Red Bull ran with less than optimal understeer in Malaysia to preserve the tyres in the heat. With just one stop planned for China he says they are able to run more normal here. I’m not sure what he means here because an understeering car will slide at the front, I would have thought.

    He also spoke about how Hamilton is struggling to have to reign in his talent for the sake of the new tyres.

    1. Scudderite says:

      “He also spoke about how Hamilton is struggling to have to reign in his talent for the sake of the new tyres.”

      What an extremely sad sentence to see.

    2. Bruce says:

      Is not slight understeer better than oversteer in terms of getting the power on early coming onto the straights? Rear tyres loose grip faster than fronts?

  21. James says:

    We’re about to start race 3 of the season. Can everyone stop panicking about Vettel winning everything, and how dominant the RB looks. Remember the whole Brawn thing?

    And he hardly ran away with it last season, and I seem to remember people being fearful of the Red Bull’s pace at the start of that season too.

    Just calm down. And besides, if he’s the fastest in the fastest car, then that’s motorsport. You don’t start talking about putting lead into Usain Bolt’s shoes just because he wins so often. And yes, he has the best equipment too.

    Just calm down. Other drivers will get their chance.

    1. Mario says:

      spot on

  22. James says:

    Virgin seem to have taken over from Toyota as the team with the least charisma.

  23. Peter says:

    Lewis really can’t be locking up tyres. Despite being a couple of tenths shy of Lewis on one lap pace I think Jenson clearly has the advantage when it comes to the Grand Prixs this season.

  24. tri says:

    Vettel is really in supreme form – cannot see anyone beating him this weekend unless there are some strategy/reliability issues.

  25. Michael says:

    James, is there any update on FOTA and the new RRA? Rumour was one team was holding out, can you share anything?

  26. jmv says:

    lets not kid ourselves…

    Seb will put it on pole…
    Seb will run away at the start.. and in 8 laps have built a 8 seconds lead and from there will control.

  27. k miles says:

    You know the bit i loved about today was, that ferrari favoured alonso over massa (again) with the aero updates and HIS was the car that had problems!! haha! really hope poor massa finishes ahead AGAIN!

  28. Luke Robbins says:

    Guys i don’t think anyone is giving Vettel enough credit on the site at the moment.

    Everyone is criticising him and the season. Didn’t see it when old JB was destroying everyone at the start of the 09 season.

    Im not Vettel’s biggest fan but the guy is class. Fastest driver on the grid at the moment, give everyone a RedBull and he would still be winning IMO.

    Also I think it’s interesting how his competitors, mainly Hamilton (probably because he is his closest challenger atm) is trying to knock Seb out of his stride with some mind games. Will be interesting to see how this develops throughout the season, and if Fernando joins in once the Ferrari is battling (if this happens).

  29. ACB says:

    I think its interesting that Red Bull spent most of practice pounding away laps while everyone else was aiming for lap times. Heidfeld has had quite a weekend with two shunts, though he managed to get his car partwa back after the second shunt. It looked to me like his rear tyres were breaking loose- so I guess the good news for Lotus/Renault is they have a pointy car.
    The 107 percent rule should make qualy very interesting again. Last year the best Q1 time was 1:35.641 by Hamilton, the slowest time was 1:40.578 by Karun Chandok in an HRT, Fastest lap during the race was a 1:42.061, also by Hamilton.

  30. Matt B says:

    I really hope we see some racing on Sunday. As much as the tyres add to the excitement, i would have a race long battle for position than have the finishing order decided on the last lap with all sorts of strategies crossing over one another.

  31. Fausto Cunha says:

    I like Seb Vettel he´s a leaf of fresh air and the only one worth listen or read on formula 1, he´s funny and relaxed.
    I can understand about people not being happy with the same guy winning but saying that he´s not fast it´s very unfair and rude.

  32. krieng says:

    Fast car should win, it’s very simple. It’s exciting to see the runner up team can beat them or not.
    And if they not, just wait for the next race. I don’t think the big name like Mclaren or Ferrari will give up easily.
    This is fun when the bigger team try to chasing the small team.

  33. Ryan Eckford says:

    I think Red Bull and McLaren will be on the first two rows of the grid in China. I think Red Bull has the edge over McLaren by 0.457 seconds or 4-5 tenths of a second. Renault and Ferrari will take up rows 3 and 4, trailing Red Bull by 1.053 and 1.078 seconds respectively, or by 1.0-1.1 seconds. Mercedes and Sauber will take up rows 5 and 6, with Mercedes 1.433 or 1.4-1.5 seconds behind Red Bull and Sauber 1.750 or 1.7-1.8 seconds behind Red Bull. Rows 7, 8 and 9 will be taken up by Force India, Toro Rosso and Williams. Force India behind by 2.526 or 2.5-2.6 seconds, Toro Rosso behind by 2.648 or 2.6-2.7 seconds, Williams behind by 2.818 or 2.8-2.9 seconds. Row 10 will be taken by Lotus. They are behind by 4.789 or 4.7-4.8 seconds. The last two rows will be taken by HRT and Virgin. HRT behind by 6.264 or 6.2-6.3 seconds, and Virgin behind by 6.741 or 6.7-6.8 seconds.

    On the Hamilton tyre issue, I think he was completely and utterly riled by the start Heidfeld made in Malaysia, as well as getting into traffic after a poor pit stop, and the anger built up so much in Hamilton that he felt he had to release it some way, which Hamilton usually vents his anger towards his tyres, usually saying that my tyres have gone. I think that Hamilton is a misunderstood person in that what he says is sometimes not actually what he is saying. Another example of Hamilton getting riled was in Abu Dhabi last year. It all started in the pits when McLaren produced a poor stop and he got stuck behind Kubica. A short time later, Hamilton said on the radio that my tyres are gone, even though he was setting great lap times. I think Ron Dennis said on the radio that if you want to be world champion, you cannot pit. I think even his own team misunderstand him, especially Martin Whitmarsh as he is not as ruthless as Ron Dennis. Another driver in F1 who was also misunderstood was Aryton Senna, and he was a total genius. So to say that Hamilton struggles in tyre management is total rubbish. To say that people within his team and within Formula 1 misunderstand him, well that is totally plausible, if not confirmed.

    Hamilton is not only the fastest driver in F1, he is also one of the best at tyre management, and I am sure of that.

  34. Nick Hipkin says:

    Vettel has so much in reserve that I genuinely dont think the Mclarens will worry him tomorrow. He wont streak away because of the tyres but whenever Mclaren look fast Seb always has another half a second in his pocket.

    As for whether F1 is endurance racing, it clearly isnt. 6 hours onwards is what you call Endurance racing as found in the Le Mans Endurance Series funnily enough.

    Mark Hughes said on autosport yesterday that Hamilton is struggling to reign in his talent for the sake of tyre management. This is sad to hear as F1 should be about the best and fastest drivers driving to their full potential.

    Who here honestly finds tyre management exciting compared to two drivers duelling it out at the limit in a final stint with the tyres having no effect on their performance!?

    Who on here would rather watch a race like last weekend or a race like suzuka 05 or spa 00?

    F1 has become tyre obssessed, I dont watch F1 for the tyres, I watch it for the cars, the drivers, the skill and most importantly the racing!

    Some on here seem to be brainwashed by pirelli!

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