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Felipe Massa sets the pace in Shanghai
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Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Apr 2013   |  8:32 am GMT  |  133 comments

Ferrari finished the Friday practice session in first and third places with Felipe Massa setting the fastest time and team mate Alonso third.

The pair were split by the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, with Nico Rosberg fourth ahead of Mark Webber.

It looks like it could be a competitive race, with qualifying certain to be important, but race strategy likely to be the decisive factor, with managing the difference between the soft and medium tyre the key to it.

Mercedes had been the clear pace setters on the medium tyres in the morning and at the start of the second session.

The soft tyre runs, where the fastest lap times were set, were carried out in the first half of the session. The Mercedes went to them early on, when the track was still improving, Rosberg finding almost a second compared to the medium tyres. Others gained up to 1.5 seconds, especially the Ferraris.

Switching to the soft tyres a little later, Felipe Massa did a clean lap, 4/10ths faster than his team mate Alonso. The Spaniard is keen to avoid being outqualified by Massa here, as that would be the fifth time in a row, something that has never happened to him before in his F1 career. Raikkonen split the Ferraris on his soft tyre runs.

Massa in particular looked like his old self on the soft tyre, making the most of the increased grip levels it offers. Later in the session on the medium tyres his lap times were good.

The tyre degradation on the Ferrari also looks encouraging. There were signs from the tyres of Button’s McLaren after its new tyre run that the car was understeering a little, leading to more damage to the left front tyre than some of its rivals. Later in the session Button suffered what he believed to be a delamination of his front left medium tyre later in the session.

Having set their times early, Mercedes concentrated on race preparation; long runs, covering a lot of laps to make sure that they have good data for strategy planning for Sunday’s race. Hamilton did the most laps of anyone, with good medium tyre performance, looking like Mercedes were preparing for a two stop race, as they did last year. Hamilton did 27 laps on a set of mediums.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel complained of vibrations during his long runs and mechanics were seen to grind down the top of his bargeboards, an unusual way of fine tuning the airflow mid-session!

Pirelli say that the data shows that the medium tyre is good for 20 laps in the race, which means that the race could be done in two stops, but it will be touch and go, while the soft is much faster relative to the medium than Pirelli was expecting.

With an advantage on soft of up to 1.5 seconds per lap over the medium, it will make the first stint on Sunday very interesting and will add to the spice of the race strategies. The moment when a set of new mediums is faster than a used set of softs will be crucial to establish.

Max Chilton had a frustrating session; the Marussia driver stopped out on track early on and although he managed to get out later in the session, he stopped again with fluid leaking from the back of the car.

Sergio Perez had an off in the morning, crashing at the pit lane entry in the McLaren due to low front tyre temperature at the end of a long run and he was off track again in the afternoon, although without damage.

* Tonight is the deadline for entries to our unique performance driving competition, involving Ferrari reserve driver Giancarlo Fisichella in London. Don’t miss your chance to win one of the three places on the event! http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2013/04/ja-on-f1-competition-performance-reinvented-driving-experience-in-london/

CHINESE GRAND PRIX, Shanghai, Free Practice 2

1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m35.340s 32 Laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m35.492s + 0.152s 32
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m35.755s + 0.415s 30
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m35.819s + 0.479s 35
5. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m36.092s + 0.752s 31
6. Jenson Button McLaren 1m36.432s + 1.092s 29
7. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m36.496s + 1.156s 39
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m36.514s + 1.174s 32
9. Paul di Resta Force India 1m36.595s + 1.255s 33
10. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m36.791s + 1.451s 27
11. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m36.940s + 1.600s 16
12. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m36.963s + 1.623s 31
13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m37.103s + 1.763s 22
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m37.206s + 1.866s 39
15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m38.127s + 2.787s 34
16. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m38.185s + 2.845s 18
17. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m38.211s + 2.871s 32
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m38.276s + 2.936s 34
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m38.725s + 3.385s 29
20. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m39.271s + 3.931s 21
21. Charles Pic Caterham 1m39.814s + 4.474s 27
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1m43.227s + 7.887s 5

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133 Comments
  1. Amritraj says:

    Hi James,

    I analysed the runs by the Ferraris and there is an interesting pattern that emerged; Fernando was faster than Felipe (by quite a margin) towards the end of each stint.

    Even on the quali sim., Fernando gained in the last sector whereas Felipe lost time in comparison to his previous run. I think Fernando is holding back a lot of time.

    Tomorrow will be interesting.

    Regards,
    Amritraj

    1. Adam Bunting says:

      Who was quickest and saved their tyres the most on the long runs?

  2. goferet says:

    Hahaha always a good sign when you hear the drivers nervous over the team radio worried about the tyres (the soft tyre in this case).

    This means nobody is 100% confident so in this case, the race and race strategies will be more of a gamble than originally planned.

    Good form by the Ferrari and Lotus, it appears different tracks will favour different teams and it’s very likely we shall have a different race winner aka 2012 season.

    Am not sure if the media firestorm is having an effect on Vettel but this looks like one of those races where Webber will finish ahead >>> Just a hunch, you understand.

    Mercedes and especially Rosberg looking strong too, not yet sure whether Lewis is playing mind games with Rosberg at this moment in time i.e. Let the teammate think he has the upper hand in practice & what not till when it matters.

    Also pretty odd that Lewis was practicing fuel saving mode, all this after what happened in Malaysia.

    Mclaren and Force India will be in the thick of it too but it has to be said, Perez looks really slow and worse still mistake prone.

    Last but not least, again good showing by Marussia’s Jules. It’s just practice but ahead of both Caterhams is still pretty impressive.

    1. Quade says:

      I think Perez rather likes the gravel in China.

      1. Formula Zero says:

        Just like Hamilton in 07! Ironic

      2. Kay says:

        Except Hamilton was on the pace of a double-WDC, Perez on the pace of mid-field runners.

    2. Enzo says:

      To me it looked like Lotus was stronger on the softs then on the mediums.

    3. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      +1 your are brilliant

  3. goferet says:

    BBC’s Andrew Benson says:

    If you’re superstitious there is even more reason to believe Lotus can win, following the death of Margaret Thatcher this week.

    The last four times a former British prime minister has died, the team (in
    whatever guise it was at the time) has
    won the following race – Michael
    Schumacher for Benetton after Harold
    Wilson and Alex Douglas-Home passed
    away in 1995 and Fernando Alonso for
    Renault in 2006 after the deaths of
    James Callaghan and Ted Heath.”

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      I have a headache now… from shaking my head so violently in despair!

      1. Scuderia McLaren says:

        Lol

    2. Random 79 says:

      That’s got to be the strangest set of statistics I’ve ever seen.

      1. Kit says:

        Not only that.
        Where do you even begin , that is even more amazing!
        Just to let you in for a bit of info, I suspect Massa’s return to form is linked proportionally to the magnitude of North Korea’s retheorics

      2. Random 79 says:

        Now that makes sense; he’s driving faster to get away from it :)

    3. Wild Man says:

      Nothing lasts forever.

    4. Jock Ulah says:

      Every time I walk under a ladder prior to a race Vettel has won.
      Will do the same this weekend to help stoke the media flame.

      Politicians aren’t nearly as powerful as you might think.

      1. DonSimón says:

        Neither is Seb.

    5. iceman says:

      As trivia goes, that’s right up there with the most trivial :)

      I would add that in 1987 they only managed 5th place (as Benetton, with Thierry Boutsen) in the first race after Harold Macmillan’s death!

    6. KRB says:

      Haha, all in fun (macabre, but fun). There’s one about how the Washington Redskins do immediately before U.S. election day being a predictor for whether or not the incumbent will win, etc.

      1. Anne says:

        If you don´t mind,it´s not exactly as you put it. When the Redskins play against the Green Bay Packers. It is that match in particular. Depending on which team wins it favors one candidate over another. However when they played in 2004 Bush was supossed to lose the election but that wasn´t the case. So the “prophesy” didn´t work.

      2. Doohan says:

        He did “lose”
        But he still “won”

    7. Bring Back Murray says:

      What about for the greatest Brit, Winston Churchill?

    8. JohnBt says:

      Holy cow, in this age one can believe this. It has to be joke!

  4. JohnBt says:

    Very good FP1 and 2. Weather was good with blue skies, a rare sight in Shanghai.

    This will be a good weekend, just hope there won’t be any rain.

  5. Truth or Lies says:

    Well done Felipe, best wishes for another strong weekend.

    1. Chromatic says:

      Whats going on??

      FM is out-pacing the man many know as the best driver in F1 every prac, every quali, every race. How long can this go on for?

      1. Warren Groenewald says:

        Mmmm, two mixed conditions quali sessions and a couple practices. Glad he’s found some form but he hasn’t demonstrated much race pace yet.

      2. vuelve kowalsky says:

        maybe he is not the best after all.

    2. Sebee says:

      Has Felipe won a race since his accident or are we waiting for that moment still?

      1. Timmay says:

        Waiting

      2. Doohan says:

        That devastating victory of brazil ’08 is his last race win.
        It was the best and worst win of his career.

      3. David says:

        Has not; still waiting. It’d be good to see it happen.

    3. oz says:

      Podium at best – He is a no2 driver

  6. jps says:

    Hopefully Refill can sort out the driver issues. I think the Vettel/Webber rift all stems back from when Vettel was having problems facing the media before Brazil last year and asked webber for advice. Webber replied “What is it you can’t face”

    1. Uh says:

      Vettel was used as a guinea pig with the new rearwing which clearly was slower, by 7-8 tenths.

      So don’t start celebrating yet.

      1. David Ryan says:

        Unless they’ve really mucked up the shape of the new wing, I can’t see it costing him that much time (which, conveniently enough, is the entirety of his deficit to Webber in FP2). Vettel certainly made no mention of that in the driver quotes later, and he was 3 tenths slower than Webber in FP1 in the same specification anyway. I think it’s probably just a case of Webber having a slightly better day in the office than him.

  7. Chris says:

    The soft’s really did seem to be falling apart! I hope this is just down to the green Friday track.

    The drop off is quite insane and drivers really seem to go easy to make them last, not sure really I like that.

    1. Quade says:

      Massa was able to do 8 laps on them, so Ferrari might have a good soft tyre stint.

      1. Chris says:

        True, and it’s great to see Massa back on his A game. But still…

        I’m not sure I like the way these super fast guys are appearing to be driving well within the limits of the cars and themselves during the race to ensure the tyres last. I know tyre management has always been a big part of F1 but maybe this current F1 version has gone too far?

        High Deg. rate is fine by me to spice it up for the masses, but I would prefer tyres that the drivers can push on more, not tip toe. I have already heard that Merc/Brawn “may” consider sitting out Q3 and Nadno is downplaying the importance of Qualify too due to tyres, maybe cos Massa is doing rather well ;)

      2. KRB says:

        Haha, 8 laps is good? Rosberg did 13 laps on his used softs in last year’s race.

      3. Bring Back Murray says:

        If we’re thinking of 8 laps as a good stint we are doomed!

  8. Lachlan Mackinnon says:

    Looks like we are set for a cracking race. I wonder how the sharing of data within the Redbull garage will go tonight:-)) In all seriousness, possibly 3 different teams on the podium this weekend……it’s on the cards!

    1. Clear View says:

      I’d say 4 mate, Merc, Ferrari, Lotus and Red Bull. I have a feeling Lotus have been sand bagging a bit cos Kimi is getting fed up of wanting to be constantly interviewed. Did you see the Lee Mcenzy clip. He looks fed up of talking to different media people about the same thing over and over. I think they have a bit more to give yet this weekend as the track rubbers in.

      It’s gonna be a great race I believe.

      1. Lachlan Mackinnon says:

        Agreed!

  9. Elie says:

    Good stuff Feli

  10. McLaren78 says:

    Those is positions 11/12 can play it clever and start on the medium. Then have the last stint on the soft will low fuel and the track developing faster. They will be able to gain a lot of time and positions. Perez, Sutil, Grosjean might be for a good race.

    1. Paul Watson says:

      Those who get through to Q3 could just do a run on the Medium, come 10th or even higher if other drivers do same!

  11. Anon says:

    Hopefully we get a weekend that has consistent weather throughout, I’m expecting the Merc to be fast in the first sector at least.

  12. Nigel says:

    “Pirelli say that the data shows that the medium tyre is good for 20 laps in the race, which means that the race can be done in two stops”

    Which would imply 16 laps on the soft – about twice as long as it seems to be good for (particularly if it was used for qualifying).

    1. KRB says:

      Yeah, can’t understand that one from Pirelli. Maybe for those outside the top 10, starting on the medium, ending on the soft. But for those at the front, I think they would need 22 laps on the first medium stint to be even close to attempting it.

      I’m thinking SU10-MN22-MN24 for the stints, for any top 10 two-stoppers.

      We could see people zooming thru the field at the end, and others dropping like stones at the end, like Kimi last year, all because of the tires.

      1. wolf says:

        Unless it rains there should be a nice layer of rubber over the racing line by Sunday. As we’ve seen since they re-entered F1, on a dry track the performance of the pirelli tyres improves exponentially over the weekend.

      2. Clear View says:

        I think it also helps when there are plenty of support races on the card for the weekend too. Some race weekend there may be 2, 3, 4 or more support races but others weekends there are non I believe. So this can play a large role in track evolution.

        I don’t know what support races are happening in China this weekend.

        James can you help with some info about this if possible please?

      3. Stephen Taylor says:

        Pirelli are deluding themsekves . From what i’ve seen rhe Options won’t last 6 laps. The track has rubbered in and the cars are going 5 secs slower than a GP2 Car . Need I say more . If you think its just the fans complaining you’ll think again when you read this.
        http://www1.skysports.com/formula-1/news/12472/8632857/Worried-Lewis-Hamilton-questions-hardcore-Pirelli-soft-tyres-for-2013-Chinese-GP

  13. DB says:

    What is it with young McLaren drivers and China’s pit entry?…

    1. Joel says:

      Lewis was a rookie, whereas Sergio has 2 seasons under his belt, although agree on the young part.
      Comparison between Lewis and Sergio is inevitable, I guess :)

      1. Bring Back Murray says:

        That was the team’s fault as much as Lewis anyway in 2007

    2. Quade says:

      Lets say, young McLaren drivers have a healthy taste for a diet of Chinese gravel! :)

  14. Anne says:

    Well Ferrari has been saying for a long time that they would bring upgrades for the race in China. And Fry said they were working on improving qualy time. It looks like everything is going as plan. However I´m not sure I would bet for Ferrari to win the pole tomorrow

    1. Paul Watson says:

      agree, though glad to hear Ferrari not having correlation issues (seemingly). Who do you have for pole then?

      1. Alexander Supertramp says:

        Rosberg

      2. Horno says:

        Hard to say, because this will be a real strategic race..
        Could be that some of the toppers could choose to start on the medium tyre and thus missing out on pole.
        -
        Mercedes does well on the medium, but less on the soft..
        Ferrari does well on the soft, but less on the medium..

      3. Stephen Taylor says:

        Massa .

    2. Anne says:

      I´m thinking Vettel. But I hope it is one the Mercedes. Also I´d like to see a Ferrari in the pole but I give them very small chance. I don´t know what to think about Lotus

    3. Rich C says:

      Apparently it was an upgrade to *Massa!

      I can hear it now:”‘Nando, Felipe is faster than you, do you understand?”

  15. F1Ray says:

    Looks like all the top teams need to be ready for a very early pit stop on Sunday, on the basis that they will probably use the softs in Q3. Only consolation to this tyre farce, is that everybody’s more or less in the same boat. It may have an entertainment factor, but it sure ain’t motor racing in it’s purest form.

    1. JEZ Playense says:

      But its also not a procession around the track with minimal overtaking either.

      Some years the team with the fastest car and a good driver would always win. Now the team and the driver must be clever and deal with the tyres.

      Better racing I think.

    2. Horno says:

      unless some start on medium..

  16. dean cassady says:

    Go Filipe, go!
    I doubt you will b allowed to out-qualify your team mate, but I wish you well.
    Mercedes look VERY strong.
    I think it likely teams (reads Red Bull) will strap on the latest AD toys and go very well in qualifying, though race may be slightly different.
    Strange the differential between Raikkonen and Grosjean; Lotus look strong; I expect their race pace to be good.
    Ferrari look strong on both soft one lap and quite reasonable on medium multi-lap.
    McLaren: still tough sloughing.
    Force India interesting nipping at the tails of the front group in intense intra-team battle.
    Sauber fallen off the radar.
    Williams, oh my!
    Expect the unexpected!

    1. Justin Bieber says:

      “I doubt you will b allowed to out-qualify your team mate”

      I’m shaking my head in disbelief.. not be “allowed” to out-qualify!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Apart from the fact the he did it twice in the first 2 races, it fascinating to read that kind of non sense..

  17. Zack says:

    cheese tyres

    1. Stephen Taylor says:

      Yes the softs were appalling. Some cars were struggling to do 5 or 6 laps . With some drivers sacrificing grid positions for race strategy the starting line up should be intriguing. As for Marussia why on did they send Chilton back out without fixing a problem? It baffled me

      1. Clear View says:

        They thought they had a leak from a joint in oil line and replaced it but it turned out to be a crack in the oil reservoir which they missed 1st time round.

    2. Quade says:

      Lol! Did anyone see the slow mo with Kimi’s wheels throwing off loaves of tyre?

  18. kfzmeister says:

    Good Massa, like the scout that he is. Going out front to check the track for the cavalry. Cause tommorow, the cavalry will come and destroy the opposition :-)

    1. wolf says:

      Works both ways, Vettel only did 27 laps today, I’m sure Webbers car grabbed some good baseline data over 35 laps.

      1. kfzmeister says:

        Gonna be a great race. Can’t wait.

  19. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    James, what is your hunch if Massa is P2 and Alonso P3 for example, there will be team orders at the end to change positions?

    1. James Allen says:

      Will be fascinating to see. One would expect so, that may well have been the basis of FM’s renewal the last few years.

      It’s early in the season, but FA is some way behind Vettel at the moment after the Malaysia mistake

      1. kfzmeister says:

        Every time i think on track battle potential between Felipe and Fernando, i remember a decisive showing at the Nurburgring in ’07
        No team order potential then and Fernando’s fighter spirit prevailed. He’ll deliver the goods, if he has to.

      2. David Ryan says:

        The fact that the MP4-22 had a shorter wheelbase, and therefore was more sure-footed in wet weather, probably had something to do with it as well. Prior to the rain, Massa was leading and pulling away. Nonetheless, Alonso would certainly be up for a fight if need be.

      3. David Ryan says:

        I’d say it’s far too early to justify that kind of call, particularly if Massa is genuinely quicker than Alonso this weekend. Irrespective of whether they’d prefer Alonso to be leading the title charge, they need Massa to be performing strongly in the other car to take points off his rivals and for the constructors’ championship. Shooting his confidence by getting him to move aside in the third race would be utterly counterproductive.

      4. Horno says:

        I would prefer if they let Alonso pass.. but for the sport and mainly for Massa peace of mind it would be better if they let Massa take the victory. Also I think Massa would deserve it, after his huge struggle over the past 2,3 years..
        -
        The best thing would be if this situation would not happen at all, and Alonso is way a head at 1st place, with Massa at least 4 sec. behind. XD

      5. Justin Bieber says:

        Its fascinating how some fans focus so much on the Alonso/Massa pairing and are under the assumption that Massa is moving over for Alonso almost every race! Facts tells quite a different story.

        So far this season Ferrari as not use team order while Mercedes and Redbull have very publicly used them. The focus should be on them.

      6. ScarletFever says:

        I would encourage Massa to go for one year of glory rather than accepting decades of second rate classification

      7. Random 79 says:

        +1

    2. Anne says:

      They might use some pit stop strategy to put Alonso in a position to win the points or the race. Unless Ferrari wants to ridicule RB by telling Alonso to keep calm and let Massa win. that would be a big slap in the face to RB. But I don´t think they are going to do that

    3. hero_was_senna says:

      Why? Massa leads Alonso in the table. Anyway with 2 DRS places I don’t think overtaking will be an issue.
      I can see a time when Alonso overtakes legitimately and Massa defends like usual against him and wipes them both out.
      I think back to Nurburgring 2007 or Singapore 2008, there’s been underlying tension there ever since..

  20. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Tyre strategy: could it be 1st pit-stop in lap 3 or 4? Ridiculous!

    May be midfield teams (Perez) could take advantage and got a podium.

  21. Lol says:

    F1 cars are doing laps 4-5 seconds slower than GP2 cars.

    Thanks Pirelli and their supporters.

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      Is this true!? This is unacceptable for sure. For the pinnacle of motorsports…

    2. Bring Back Murray says:

      Where did you get than information from Lol?

      That can’t be right, surely?

      If so that’s taking the mickey – its not F1 any more!

    3. Skanda says:

      Pirelli are making a joke of F1! Is there a way to signup for an online petition to FIA/F1 against these tyres?

    4. Adrian J says:

      Are they? (Serious question, I don’t follow GP2)

      That would be a worrying star given that the less durable tires are supposed to be faster…

      1. Lol says:

        The times for race trim in FP1 and 2 were around 5 seconds slower than GP2 cars go in the race.

      2. KRB says:

        Huh? What are you using to compare? GP2 is not racing in Shanghai this weekend. The only support racing is Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.

        I don’t like how extreme the Pirelli’s have gone (a great comment I saw was someone saying “Anybody can win on Sunday as long as they dont try too hard”), but making up ‘facts’ won’t help anyone’s cause.

    5. Steve says:

      According to Wikipedia the lap record for a GP2 car around Shanghai is 146.470 by Kamui 2008. So yes some are slower!

      1. Steve says:

        sorry meant to say the gp2 are slower.

      2. KRB says:

        Fastest race lap in last year’s GP was 1:39.960, also by Kobayashi.

        So F1 cars are a good 6 seconds quicker.

  22. sanctimonious says:

    If the soft tire is as fragile as it looks then all who want to get into Q3 will use up all they have.
    I’m just wondering does it matter where Kimi qualifies if he can save another set of softs and of hards?

    1. Horno says:

      Only if the tyre management is also in perfect order..

  23. Scuderia McLaren says:

    Forza Ferrari / Forza Felipe.

    This loyal tsifosi has his fingers crossed.

    At this point, I’d take a Ferrari win by either driver. They have not stood on top since Germany last year mid season!

  24. Paige says:

    It could be an interesting time for a team like Mercedes to try screwing Q3 and start on the mediums. I read some driver comments that the soft tires last really only one lap. If you go for a bonzai run in Q3 on softs, then you’ll be starting the race on cooked tires. By lap 5 or so, the degradation could be so bad that the medium runners start matching the times or exceeding them. The degradation will be even worse with a fully-fulled car at the start. Frankly, I don’t see how a team can do a race in two stops unless the rubbering in of the track has a big effect between now and Sunday. If a team starts on mediums and does, they can pop in at the end for a fresh set of softs and take advantage of quicker tires to do a strong run at the end while not having as much degradation with a lighter car and more rubbered-in track.

    It could be an interesting tactic to maybe split the strategies of Hamilton and Rosberg. I would give Rosberg the softs in Q3, as he is a little better at managing tires and could finesse the softs in the first run. I’d give Hamilton the mediums, as he is better at warming the tires and getting a quick lap. He could maybe get a decent spot out of it, given that based on qualifying times so far, Mercedes seems to have enough of a step over the likes of McLaren, Force India, Sauber, etc. who would be gunning at the lower half of the top-10 to mitigate the loss of time on the medium.

    1. Joel says:

      You should apply for Sam Michaels position, if even if it falls vacant :)

    2. Paige says:

      I should clarify something. There is a way to do this race in two stops, and it requires starting the race on mediums from a Q3 grid slot. The idea is to stay in range of the soft runners as their tires fade- and, hopefully, get some time back in the death laps. Then get your driver out front in clean air (which will help tire management) and continue the run until lap 17- maybe a couple of laps early, but you’ve lost one lap from qualifying, and it’s good to give your driver a couple of extra laps of life on the first run to go for it and get as much time as possible. Plus, this will give the driver 10 laps on fresh mediums to gain time on the front runners on worn mediums. Go until lap 37, and switch to softs. Use a rubbered-in track and a lighter car to get more life out of the tires and gain time at the end with a faster tire on worn and slower medium tire cars.

      Given the pace advantage that Mercedes has on the mediums, I would seriously consider putting one of their drivers on this strategy.

  25. sanctimonious says:

    Shanghai 2007 on sky F1 today. Brilliant race, action, drama. Who showed real class, and still do?
    KR, FA, SV, JB.

    Also stood out: great combination of James Allen and Martin Brundle. Fine commentary that added lots to the experience.
    Sadly JA not commentating Sunday, but I’m looking forward to the same drivers giving us a treat.

  26. Methusalem says:

    Toto Wolff told the German daily, “Die Welt” that Paddy Lowe will replace Ross Brawn. What now for Mercedes?

    1. Val from montreal says:

      Im so happy Mercedes F1 never saw a dime out of my pockets !! Never purchased a T-shirt from them and no other memorabilia either… NOTHING !

      However , my RED BULL team jacket and Kimi Raikkonen LOTUS cap have been already ordered and are well on their way to my home …

      Ross Brawn and the hiring of 791 was the best thing that ever happened to Brackley – and they managed nothing worth talking about …

      Good riddance Mercedes F1 !

    2. JEZ Playense says:

      A few wins perhaps?

    3. mhilgtx says:

      I don’t know but Ross Brawn is quickly becoming one of my favorites in F1. No nonsense, pragmatic, and quiet smart. I have been watching as much Youtube on F1 as I can find and the Merc series on F1 with Nico and Ross are pretty interesting.

      Ross Brawn and Vettel at Mcleran?

  27. Richard says:

    This race is all going to be about performance on the prime tyre, because the option tyre will be used in Q2 & Q3, and the first few laps of the race then there’ll be gone. The crossover point where the option tyre falls away beyond the point where the new prime will be faster is something all the teams will want to know, and I suspect Mercedes will have a good handle on that now.

  28. Bayan says:

    I have to say, it’s good to see Massa getting back in to his old form. Also, it must be expected now because Bianchi hasn’t been mentioned much even though he has again blown away his teammate and the caterhams. Not sure if Chilton is just not there yet and Marussia have a better car than caterham OR if Bianchi is just that darn good.

  29. Bayan says:

    Tyres seem to be THE DECIDING FACTOR in F1 this year. Tyre management has always been part of F1 but this might be a bit too much. May be the harder compounds should last much longer and be much slower than the softer compounds (i’m thinking 2 secs between compounds). Just throwing out ideas for those who may want to see quali type laps (only catch is they will be on a much slower tyre).

    1. KRB says:

      But then the ‘option’ tires are really no option at all.

      I don’t mind tires that degrade. But ones that make drivers drive significantly slower than the car can go are not good for F1.

  30. mhilgtx says:

    Last night on the US broadcast (yeah I stayed up to watch it live)Paul Hembery was extremely defensive about the tires. This was during a Will Buxton interview. I think will mistakenly said P1 when talking about P2 and Paul informed him there was no tire degradation in P1.

    Do you guys across the pond get the Buxton part of the feed or is he only for us in the US?

    1. Random 79 says:

      Can’t speak for the UK or Europe, but in Australia I’ve never heard of him – I suspect he’s US only :)

    2. KRB says:

      Yeah, only US. Used to be Canada as well (when the Varsha/Diffey/Hobbs/Matchett/Buxton crew used to be with Speed), but discovered just before the season started that NBC Sports has not been granted a license to broadcast in Canada!

      I miss them!!!

      Funny story about F1 on NBC … they have a transcript up on their website of a conference call they had, to talk about the upcoming F1 and IndyCar seasons. Well, the person who did the shorthand for it, mustn’t have heard David Hobbs right, as everywhere he’s talking about McLaren, the shorthand is ‘the Clan’! haha As far as accents go, Hobbs is dead easy to understand. Maybe a bit rougher than Matchett’s, but still easy to understand. Should get that Geordie from the Alan Partridge bit on there!! :-D

  31. Horno says:

    James,

    Would a Medium, Medium, Soft work here?

    1. Horno says:

      Sorry pressed submit too early.
      But what I mean is that a lighter car will be easier on his tyres, and thus potentially go further on the same set of soft, in particularly when you safe a new set of softs.

    2. James Allen says:

      Yes as long as you can get far enough on first set of meds

      1. Stephen Taylor says:

        James do you think will have tyre deg which is so bad could some drivers could really gamble and come in to change to mediums on the end of lap 1?

  32. F*ckYeah says:

    Everybody wants to see Felipe qualify ahead of his much advantaged teammate, I am already buying shares in pram toy companies in the Asturias region.

    Otherwise, for the rest, it looks like a great race weekend, Lewis pole and win, or can Rozzer pip him this weekend ?

  33. Grant says:

    What’s with Massa constantly outperforming Alonso lately?

    1. Random 79 says:

      It’s called talent – something he’s always had, he just lacked the confidence & belief fr a (long) while. Now he’s got all three again & it’s looking good :)

  34. HCA says:

    These tyres are simply horrid, Pirelli are starting to go way too far.

    Its no longer about racing, Its no longer about racing hard, Its become a tyre conservation formula where everyone just runs around well off the limit because if they dare try & push the tyres fall off a cliff.

    Pirelli’s fans say ‘tyre management has always been a part of f1′ & that is true, However at no point in the history of F1 has it ever been anywhere close to as important as it is today.
    At no point in F1′s history has the biggest story before, during & after a race weekend been tyres yet today all you ever hear about is tyres & is starting to get ridiculous.

    Its no wonder you hear drivers talk about F1 racing been less physical today because there all driving around to a lap delta at 70-80% the limit & that is zero fun to watch & has to me zero entertainment value.

    1. Paige says:

      This is a fair argument. I have one for the other side.

      I think the new tires have been a nice spark on the engineering side. F1 has been attacking almost every area of innovation for the longest time, and there needed to be something to get the creative minds going again. Enter the new tires, which require having a fundamentally strong balance and mechanical grip in the race car to make the tires last. It’s one thing to have a car with a ton of downforce like Red Bull does that allows Vettel to slay the car in the corners, but if you don’t have the balance right, you’re going to destroy the tires in the race. So the challenge is to find a solution in which the car has very strong fundamental balance that can be honed aerodynamically over the year. Enter the hydrolic suspension system that Lotus and Merc have, which could carry them to winning two of the first three races. And they’re doing it not by just managing the tires, but by having a strong race car with very good balance that minimizes slide and preserves the tires. F1 needs to do more things to get innovation going again.

  35. Quade says:

    Someone, please give Maldonado a hug!
    That guy must be suffering anger management issues with the number of times the Williams developed a mind of its own and took to the grass. Any dude in such shoes could do with some fatherly type love and reassuring.

  36. yassin says:

    Hi James,

    The first race in Melbourne indicated the Lotus was good on its tyres but in China it seems to be a different story and the Ferrari has had better tyre wear.

    What could be the reason behind this?

    Thank you

  37. Sarvar says:

    James,
    Would it work as the soft tyres seem to last 6-8 laps on Sunday:
    Any top team driver sets his fastest lap in Q3 on soft as his 1st try, then sets a time on medium during the final one to start on it so he can go med-med-soft. Seems he is gonna be in the clean air & leading after lap 6-8, so he can take care of his tyres and go deep and in the last stint he ll be the fastest on the softs.

    1. KRB says:

      It’s not the tires you end Q3 on, you must start with the ones you set your fastest time with.

  38. Colin B says:

    Maybe it is time for a rule change. Allow Q3 drivers a one-off set of qualifying tires, and then allow the choice to start the race on whichever tire compound they want.

    The fans will get to see the best drivers not having to protect their tires in qualifying for the race. Plus the extra tires will make a Q3 spot more valuable, instead of starting 11th being a potentially better starting position than someone in 7th-to-10th.

    Maybe the Pirelli tires have gone a step too far, but they are only doing what was asked of them. I think as many people would be complaining if ‘race distance tires’ returned and the only overtaking that occurred was in the pit-stops.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Good idea.

      Didn’t they have quali specific tyres back in the day? (I might be wrong)

  39. dufus says:

    They under fueled Webber car by 750mls.
    RBR claim the Bowser was the problem.
    What, no flow sensor on the bowser ?
    No Flow sensor or Level sensor in the car !
    They have hundreds of sensors on the car and high tech fuel bowsers but no Flow or Level sensors on the car.
    Give me a break !

  40. FELIPE MASSA F1 RESULTS CONTINUE TO SUFFER BY WAY OF POOR FERRARI PIT STOP STRATEGY IN CHINA F1 GP 2013…

    My dear James, I am very surprised that the continued and lamentable pit stop strategy at Ferrari overseen by Domenicale and Smedley which have now reached risible proportions, has not received more official scrutiny and comment. How can a driver who has devasting pace and laptimes in both Practise and Qualifying, lead the actual race – then be told to pit to come out in around 8th place? Certainly costly errors do occasionally occur, but surely not as a matter of course in every F1 GP to the detriment of one particular driver? Best wishes, Rhuairi

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