The chase is on
Shanghai 2018
Chinese Grand Prix
Button wins, Barrichello and Vettel lose
Button wins, Barrichello and Vettel lose
Posted By:   |  10 May 2009   |  4:10 pm GMT  |  0 comments

This is starting to remind me of 1992 when Nigel Mansell took a very good car and dominated the championship with it, after years of seeming like the world title might elude him.

The difference is that then the Williams Renault was massively superior to the rest and Mansell was far faster than team mate Patrese.

This situation looks the same, but it’s not. The Brawn is not a huge step ahead of the rest, in fact the Red Bull has now squandered two god chances to win in Bahrain and Barcelona. And as for the team mate rivalry, Button did the business over Barrichello in qualifying, but the race was Rubens’ to lose after the first stint. The team switched the strategies and the race went Jenson’s way.

And after the race Rubens came out with an extraordinary statement and said in a live interview on US Speed TV channel, “If I get a whiff that Ross favoured Jenson today I will hang up my helmet immediately. But I don’t think he would do that..”

A lot of people here suspect that Barrichello might have been on the wrong end of things. The original plan was for both drivers to do three pit stops today, because the computer said it was faster. But it is fraught with problems of traffic.

Button pitted first, having lost the lead at the start to Barrichello and was switched onto a two stop, with a long middle stint. The reason for this was that he was going to emerge behind Rosberg anyway in a very heavy Williams and this would have wrecked his strategy.

Barrichello pitted a lap later but was kept on a three stop. He rejoined behind Massa and Vettel, but both pitted the next lap so he was back in the lead two laps after his stop and was able to motor in clear air.

The second set of tyres worked well, the third set not so well and he lost the vital ground he needed. He saw what should have been a certain win, slip away from him.

Sebastian Vettel also lost the race today. The Red Bull driver once again spent almost the entire race stuck behind another car, in this case Felipe Massa. Massa got him off the start line and that was it. Only in the final laps when Massa was running out of fuel and had to slow down did Vettel get past him.

Red Bull has had a marginally faster car than the Brawn in the last two races and yet he has ended up doing the races at someone else’s pace because he’s been behind a slower car.

Here I believe he would have won the race, especially as his car was the only one which could get the hard tyres working properly in the final stint.

“I was on the wrong strategy,” said a disconsolate Vettel afterwards. But that mistake was made on Saturday. What Red Bull have not done is fuel him a little lighter to get pole and then be sure of getting a clear run at the front. The Red Bull is a faster qualifying car than the Brawn, so why not use it and get to the front of the grid, from where you can control things.

The way they have done it, he’s twice now been vulnerable to KERS cars, Hamilton in Bahrain and Massa here and both times they have wrecked his race.

Interesting cameo in the Red Bull area after the race where someone close to Mark Webber, who drove brilliantly to leapfrog Massa and Vettel and grab a podium, said, ‘I’m glad someone here is happy,” implying that the place was like a morgue because the chosen one had not got the anticipated result…

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