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Button takes another well judged win in China
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Button takes another well judged win in China
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Apr 2010   |  11:38 am GMT  |  229 comments

Jenson Button won a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix today, his second win of the season and one which puts him on top of the drivers’ championship.

It was a 1-2 finish for McLaren with Lewis Hamilton following his team mate home having made twice as many pit stops. It takes McLaren to the top of the constructors’ championship.


“This victory is very special,” said Button, who stopped only twice in the race. “It is not luck we came out on top today. We chose correctly in the conditions. It was a tricky race and again we called it right. It’s not just about being quick, it’s about calling it.”

Like Melbourne, this was another race about Button’s correct strategy choice of tyre in changeable conditions and in which Hamilton made up for the wrong calls by charging through the field, with some stunning overtakes.

McLaren confirmed that it was Button’s own call to stay on slicks. Hamilton also confirmed that he personally made the wrong decision – and a very late one, he was almost past the pit entry – to switch to intermediates.

“I had an eventful race,” said Hamilton. “Jenson made a better choice on the tyres, It wasn’t easy. I chose very late (to go to inters) and clearly it wasn’t the right choice.”

Button is fast disproving all the critics who said he was out of his mind to join McLaren after winning the championship last year. He’s outqualified Hamilton 3-1 and has won two races thanks to making the right calls and relying on his own instincts. Once again, as in Melbourne he made the right decision and it gave him the platform to win.

It was a drizzly start to the race and Button chose to stay on dry tyres shortly after the start, when most of the field went for intermediates. Nico Rosberg and the two Renault drivers and Kovalainen did the same thing.

It was the right decision, as the intermediate tyres went off almost immediately and everybody was soon back into the pits to switch back to slicks. This meant that the leading group opened up a large gap over the others.

This gap was reduced to nothing by a safety car, which was deployed on lap 22 for clearing debris from Jaime Alguersuari’s front wing.

This helped the big names, who had lost out through making the wrong tyre calls early on and it was tough on the four drivers who had made the right call.

If the decision to deploy the safety car seemed marginal and possibly made in the interests of the show, it was fully vindicated by the race it gave us as a result.

One of the highlights for F1 fans was the first mano a mano battle between Hamilton and Schumacher. There were two battles today and in both of them Hamilton showed the seven time champion huge respect, giving him a lot of space. Schumacher was lacking rear end grip and traction and Hamilton was 2 seconds a lap faster at that point, but Schumacher used all his race craft to stay ahead for as long as he did.

“Michael was very aggressive, probably one of the most aggressive drivers I’ve ever raced against, but he did a great job,” said Hamilton.

They had a second battle later in the race in the rain, after Schumacher made an earlier call for intermediates than the rest and got back ahead of Hamilton.

There were controversial incidents involving both McLaren drivers; Button slowed right down into Turn 14 in preparation for the restart after the safety car, causing the rest of the field to bunch up and almost caused a mass collision. But this brought no sanction from the stewards.

Hamilton raced Vettel into the pit lane on lap 6 for the stop where they reverted to slicks. He got ahead. But Red Bull did the faster stop and, as they were released from the pit boxes, almost simultaneously, Hamilton came into the path of Vettel, who resisted him, by gently easing him towards the right. Both drivers were reprimanded for their driving, the second race in a row for Hamilton.


It was another great day for Rosberg and Kubica, who have both had strong starts to the season and made the absolute most of the cars they have. Rosberg qualified fourth, led the early stages and lost the lead to Button on lap 19, when the rain began to fall again and the lap times went off by 10 seconds.

Rosberg went off track and rejoined, but it allowed Button to close and he eased past on the run down to Turn 14. But Rosberg took another podium and once again eclipsed his team mate Michael Schumacher. It is the first time in Schumacher’s career that he has been beaten by a tem mate four races in a row. Schumacher said afterwards that he didn’t judge how to use the current generation intermediate tyres properly.

“It was not good for me and not good from me, ” he said candidly. “It is frustrating that I was not able to get my tyres together better. My strategy in that respect was not very impressive as in the last 10 laps my tyres were just gone.”

Kubica had another very clean race, built on the platform of his “best ever” qualifying performance, made all the right calls and looked after his intermediates well to take a strong fifth place, from eighth on the grid.


For the fourth time in four races the pole sitter did not win the race. Red Bull had dominated qualifying, but things went wrong for them when they made the early stop for intermediates. Webber damaged his front wing and the front jack, which then affected Vettel’s stop. After that it was a fight and they seemed to take more out of the intermediate tyres judging by the rate at which they wore them out.

“Today was chaotic,” said Vettel. “To get sixth isn’t bad. We started on pole but we struggled quite a lot with some conditions. It’s very on/off in these conditions. We need to understand why we were not able to be there straight away on tyre temperatures after restarts and pit stops.”

Fernando Alonso made another storming drive through the field, but this time he was recovering from his own mistake, jumping the start, which brought a drive through penalty. He made five visits to the pits in total and yet still managed to recover to take fourth place, helped significantly by the safety car for the Alguersuari incident.

* Watch out for my FX Pro Strategy Briefing early next week in which we will fully analyse how and why the key decisions were made in this race.

CHINESE GRAND PRIX – Shanghai, 56 laps

1. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1h44:42.163
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 1.530
3. Rosberg Mercedes + 9.484
4. Alonso Ferrari + 11.869
5. Kubica Renault + 22.213
6. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 33.310
7. Petrov Renault + 47.600
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 52.172
9. Massa Ferrari + 57.796
10. Schumacher Mercedes + 1:01.749
11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1:02.874
12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1:03.665
13. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:11.416
14. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 1 lap
15. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
16. Senna HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
17. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth + 4 laps

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1

“If the decision to deploy the safety car seemed marginal and possibly made in the interests of the show, it was fully vindicated by the race it gave us as a result.”

I don’t know what this means, and if it means what I suspect, I don’t agree.

2

Heidfeld would have done well in that race…..

3

On Hamilton vs Vettel in the pit lane:

Is the “speed limiter” that the cars employ an easy device to override?

Obviously it is meant to stop you going over the speed limit, but is it hard to actually override it to slow down?

I’m wondering here if the “duel” between Vettel and Lewis really came down to the fact that, for those few seconds, it was easier for Lewis to stick to the limited speed – even if it meant running tyre-to-tyre – than it was to try to slow, drop-back, then regain the limited speed.

4

So in 1986,when Michael Andretti slowed at the line and was beaten by his father on “Father’s Day” in the closest finish at that time it was fixed?I watched that race in Portland,Oregon,I do not believe that.Nor when Dale Junior won at Daytona the summer race following his father’s death there.It just isn’t possible.Piquet’s accident did not ensure an Alonso win,even though that was an attempt at fixing a race-a successful one-but at what cost.If any governing body was caught doing that,the perps will never be involved in racing again.Sure there is cheating,but what is alleged here is fixing of races-no,not in any top series in the world.

James should have said that the SC deployment simply resulted in a better race then their otherwise would have been,a simple mistake by a guy with an ever increasing amount of work on his desk due to this wonderful site.He has my forgiveness anyway.

The stewards(as in Malaysia)are interested not only in adherance to the rulebook,but safety.The rain was increasing at the time of this questionable deployment and that played the major role,not making a better show.

5

Hi James

question for Christian Horner FX Pro Strategy article.

I would like to hear C horner’s justification for not splitting strategy on that first pit stop. Maybe both drivers wanted to pit for the intermediates but at that stage there was no proof that it was the way to go. Everyone knew Alonso was going to be penalised for the jump start so Red Bull was essentially running 1-2. I have to say that it was one of the worst decisions I’ve seen by a leading F1 team. I mean they just handed the win to someone else. Trying to second guess weather conditions is fraught with danger. These guys are F1 drivers – not soothsayers. The cardinal rule is to be on the right tyre for the current conditions. I’d like to hear what the other teams were thinking about on this issue; particularly Ross Brawn and Mike

Gascoyne.

Maybe RB might learn something.

I gotta say that if Red Bull want to be considered a top F1 team then they need to stop making such fundamental mistakes. The Chinese GP should have been a relatively comfortable 1-2 for RB.

6

Another great race – that’s 3 out of 4, should we start to think that this not may not be the dreadful bore so many feared? Again, weather assisted, I admit.

And if there’s one thing that’s certain in life, it’s that the Spanish Grand Prix will be like watching paint dry…

7

Amritraj, you’re getting way too excited, how was anyone anywhere near ‘getting killed’? What I saw was two cars driving side by side down the pit-lane, how alarming!

I cited Lauda as an example of what coming close to death really looks like, just to get some perspective.

8

One thought: if we say Jenson was “lucky” on his/the team’s tire decisions, we’d also have to say that Lewis was lucky (and Jenson unlucky) to make up a 50 second gap for a somewhat controversial (to say the least) safety car period.

He almost certainly wouldn’t have been pushing button so effectively the end without that.

Luck goes both ways sometimes.

9

In town without law was inflicted unless the rules. Hamilton is like a test pilot of the legislation. Their excuse is never knowing that you speak when asked about their maneuvers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSV8a36rSiA

10

Moderators: why are my comments from my silasdenyer@gmail.com address not getting through at all (they don’t even show up as awaiting moderation, they are simply black-holed), whereas my comment from another email address (this one) has magically appeared?

Seriously, what have I done to deserve this? Can you perhaps email me back (at this one: silas@ragfactory.org.uk) to let me know? Thanks!

11

It happens to me frequently. Just as you sound to be, I started to take it personally briefly – suspecting my opinions weren’t welcome (cue sarky comments from the others).

But I suspect the reality is that the site is so good it’s just become too popular for the technology and/or moderators to cope with sometimes. I’m sure it’ll get resolved in time.

I just stick with being pleased if a comment appears, grateful if James takes the time to respond to a point and understanding if a comment “disappears”…. as long as the articles keep coming I think we can forgive that now and again eh?

12

I think the problem is that, from my other email address, comments don’t appear at all – i.e. I can’t see them as “awaiting moderation” on my own computer.

It may well be that there are some quirks in the system; you’re right, it has got very popular around here.

That said, since there are sometimes competitions which are won according to the level of contribution throughout the year, it is a little, err, awkward if the system doesn’t allow all contributions to get through 🙂

In the mean time, needless to say, I didn’t want to publish my email addresses, and now I can’t get a mod to delete the earlier post!

13

That’s a fair point about the free yearbook for the top ten commenters. Sorry about that.

14

Nothing. This one got through. We occasionally have an issue with an email address – our number one commenter Rpaco had an issue earlier this year, but thankfully it is rare. Suggest you use this one and thanks for your input – Mod

15

Ron: I don’t understand your comment at all. The leading driver needs only to drive as fast as he needs to in order to maintain the lead. It is no different a philosophy to Chapman’s assertion that a Lotus car which lasted longer than the race wasn’t light enough!

Jenson out-qualified Lewis today. He out-thought Lewis today. As a result, he didn’t have to drive as aggressively to secure the win as Lewis had to in order to secure second.

Have you not noticed that life’s winners in general appear just a little more effortless, and a little less totally-committed than the also-rans? Lewis in his championship year was just that – he seemed not to need to drive as he has this year.

At the end of the day, it is a competition, and it is hard for the second-best package to win! You may not like Jenson’s style, but that is a mile away from suggesting that Jenson is simply roadkill-in-waiting!

16

Firstly what a race, f1 as ever provides the weekly fix of drama and excitement required.

However I see not many people have touched up on this and would like to see peoples opinions, after hamilton, vettel, webber and co pitted back for slicks I was interested to see the McLaren sitting on the back of the red bulls and even passing, whilst admittedly these were not bone dry conditions, but they were not wet enough to see the benefit of webbers set up (which was geared to a more wet weather set up). From what I can see, on race pace the McLarens look like to have caught the Red Bulls with Ferrari falling a tad behind (still infront of the Mercs thought)

17

“If the decision to deploy the safety car seemed marginal and possibly made in the interests of the show, it was fully vindicated by the race it gave us as a result.”

Umm, that’s just like saying allowing a handball goal is justified if it keeps the match more exciting. Shame on you James Allen.

18

yeah 🙂

19

It’s not the same at all. Handball is against the rules and is a free kick to the other team. If the ref doesn’t spot it, then that is the fault of the lack of technology to help him make his calls.

In F1 the Race Director Charlie Whiting has all the video feeds and data you could ever want. I know because I went up to Race Control in Silverstone a couple of years back to review what I thought was a dodgy decision by the stewards and Charlie let me in and showed me the incident from several angles.

Today there was debris on the track and Charlie felt that it needed a safety car. It didn’t lead to a different result, other than it gave guys like Alonso a chance to get ahead of Kubica and Petrov, who were in the lead group that didn’t stop some 40 seconds up the road from the rest . I felt it was a bit of an American-style deployment, but it’s Charlie’s call.

20

As a Hamilton fan, it may not be pleasing but let’s face it, Jenson is doing a better job on strategy calls. I just hope Hamilton is learning something about his weaknesses and where he needs to improve. I think 2010 is the year Hamilton really learns. If he takes this positively, Button joining McLaren may be the best thing that happened in his career.

21

Boring and slow Button is one lucky chappy…

If Hamilton ever gets the right strategy call from McLaren, Button will be roadkill…

Fundamentally – Button is just so slow, that he depends on others making mistakes to achieve anything.

I’m not at all impressed by either of his two wins this season – they were inherited, and not earned…

Just glad Berne’s dopey Gold Medal system is not effect, as todays race proves that system does not recognize the true racers at all… at least under the points system, Button is still a sitting duck, waiting to be blown out of the water.

His luck will run out sooner or later…

22

Before you all start replying to RON, I’ll warn you: Don’t feed the troll!

End it here.

23

Button is going to prove me right, whether you like it or not…

Please contiune to watch, and you will witness it before your eyes…

Luck has an expiry date…

24

Yeah, he’s so slow he’s outqualified Hamilton, widely regarded as one of the outright fastest on the grid (If not THE outright fastest) three out of four times. He also won two out of four races, double what anyone else managed. But that’s got nothing to do with skill or speed, does it? No, of course not. He’s just blessed by a magical fairy who for some reason decided to wait until 2009 to notice he had a job to do.

Honestly, what on earth are you wittering on about? He overtook Nico for the lead today, how is that inheriting the win? What is it about the fact Jenson does his driving differently from the way Lewis (Say) does his do you not understand? It’s not WORSE, it’s DIFFERENT. Button is not slow, he’s consistent and measured. Hamilton is quick and aggressive, led by the warrior spirit.

They’re two different styles of driver. Neither style is inherently superior. Aggression-style drivers frequently have better “outright” pace, but what actually matters is “race pace”. Outright pace can give you good race pace, but there are other ways to do it, and Jenson often makes use of those other ways.

Honestly, this sport is a lot more complicated than “drive the wheels off the damn thing until falls apart” and when you belittle the talent of people like Button you just sound like one of those blowhards who wants F1 to be a control Formula – That is not this sport. If you want a sport where all-out aggression is what wins, every time, it’s not F1.

25

Well said Paul!

The system recognises the people that win the race, and that finish on the podium (as Lewis did also).

The people who just keep knocking Jenson are looking more and more exposed as time goes on.

Good luck to Lewis and Jenson. I’d love to see one of you win the WDC this year.

I would love to be a fly on the wall tonight in the Ferrari debrief when they get to Alonsos move on Massa. It was a ballsy move, but I doubt it did anything for teamwork 🙂

26

If you constantly get hindered by your slower teammate and have to comply by a non aggression rule, you´re not winning the Championship. One thing about Alonso this year is he delivers fantastic drives but messes up as well. He needs to up his game a notch or it will be too late.

27

James, may I ask if you think the worries about lack of excitement after the Bahrain opener are now long forgotten, and the current rules are now set in stone?

28

Well there’s not much impetus for change after the last three races, but weather has been the decisive factor in each of them and you cannot rely on that!

29

The thinking man’s F1 driver does it again. All power to his elbow. The highly unpredictable conditions so far this year have clearly favoured someone who can use his grey matter and not just a heavy right boot to get to the finishing line. Unfortunately this entertaining situation may not continue for the rest of the year.

The use of a monopoly tyre supplier has meant there was no incentive to produce tyres which had to balance speed against fragility. Clearly there was little reason for Bridgestone to supply tyres that repeatedly wore out and damaged their reputation in the process. As a consequence the art of tyre management is likely to take a back seat as the weather improves from now on, to the detriment of the spectacle.

If boredom does start to set in again, as seems not improbable, perhaps someone will take the idea of randomly sprinkling a drop or two of H20 on the track from time to time a bit more seriously. It might give the tacticians grey hairs, but it would sure as hell liven things up for the paying customers.

30

Hamilton is clearly the driver of the day, he does as many overtakes in one race than some drivers do in a season.

Having an ex-driver on the panel seems to be doing wonders for the stewarding, at last there is some common sense and an understanding that the result on the day should stand.

All this speculation about ‘what if’ during the pitlane incident with Vettel and Hamilton is utterly pointless; you have to judge it by the consequences and there were absolutely none.

31

The driver of the day is the driver who WINS.

32

Sooo, Button wasn’t the driver of the day at Interlagos last year? Come on! Of course he was. I’m not saying anything controversial; the driver of the day is the guy who drove the most exciting/most daring/most skillful race and often that isn’t the guy who wins.

Button had an easy race today with a good call on strategy. That’s it. Hamilton overtook half the field and provided the most entertainment and excitement. For that reason he gets my vote. Honorable mentions go to Alonso and Petrov.

33

So officialdom should stand back and allow a competitor to get away with thoroughly dangerous and idiotic behaviour which misses killing people nearby by a hair’s breadth?

Admittedly that does seem to be what they are content to do at the moment under the Todt regime. Not what I would have expected of him but presumably that is the way he wants to run things.

34

I assume the idiotic behaviour you refer to is Vettel pushing Hamilton to the right and towards the Williams garage?

‘A hair’s breadth’ from killing someone? A little melodramatic MartinWR. Niki Lauda came within a hair’s breadth of dying in 1976, two cars running side by side down the pit lane without incident hardly compares. o_O

35

Grow-up Robert. If somebody came close to dying back in 1976 and in an accident involving only the concerned person, that is really no justification for 2 racing drivers to risk the lives of other people just because their ‘ruthless and racing instinct’. Martin is absolutely right in saying that people could have been killed because of this irresponsible behaviour.

36

Robert,

Vettel was within about 5 inches of putting Hamilton into the air lines. Thats why it was dangerous. If he’d hit that it would have caught up in his car and probably pitches him right.

I have to be honest, I dont mind the racing into the pitlane, but guys doing it while there are people left and right in the pitline (wall and pits) should be stopped.

37

I looked at Adams youtube clip, and it seems that Massa passed Alonso at the first part of the pit entrance, and Alonso just retook the position at the turn.

I think, perhaps Massa gave it back.

I’m glad the stewards are just handing out repremands instead of penalties, as it leaves the results alone.

Seems Jensons’ style of driving can be competitive with Lewis’.

Seems like this might be an interesting season afterall. But rain is the primary

reason it’s been interesting.

One last thought. I thought the safety car pulled off before Jenson bunched up the field.It seems to me that this is allowed as long as the safety car has pulled off, although not if it’s still on track.

Most forms of racing allow the lead driver to set up his restart as he wishes as long as the safety car has pulled off.

Appears that I say seems too often.

Should have gone to school in England, and learned how to harvest a thought.

b

38

James,

I am totally shocked by your comment

“If the decision to deploy the safety car seemed marginal and possibly made in the interests of the show, it was fully vindicated by the race it gave us as a result.”

Artificially altering race results in NEVER justified. The safety car should not have been deployed and Charlie Whiting owes the drivers and fans an apology for such a sham move.

39

I agree.

40

Well not really. There was debris on the track and he has to make a balanced judgement, but it certainly felt to me like it was triggered rather easily, it had a US racing feel about it, but he’s in charge and it didn’t in no way is that “artificially altering race results,” as you put it.

41

I wish I viewed the race. Didn’t Button, in the press conference, admit that it was McLaren’s call to bring him in? Similarly, didn’t Hamilton admit that it was his idea to pit?

42
TheGreatCornholio

Erm, no! And to bring the point home MacLaren and Lewis gave Jenson the credit for making the call.

43

@peter

I think Hamilton’s overtake on Vettel and Alonso’s on Massa were both alright as long as they are not illegal and don’t cause the team to lose championship points in the process.

In the case of Ferrari, I am glad that Alonso did it because we’ve seen enough of team orders and there needs to be intra-racing as well. Alonso is, in my modest opinion (however worth-it it may be), is the best driver on the grid at the moment and there is no point following Massa if he is much faster than him.

44

entertaining race… great call by button and rosberg..

Mclaren leading both championships going to europe… now the development race begins!!!

once again lots of overtaking by lewis and alonso… both standout as good overtakers to me…. some great moves!!!

i just hope shumi gets bak to his groove in the upcoming races.. it will only make it more exciting

45
Jeremy (CapeTown - SA)

My driver of the race goes to Lewis!!! Brilliant driving and will always support you !! No matter what the critics say..

46

Sorry but what a loser Felipe is if you compare him to Fernando. +1 pitstop and Alonso still managed to finnish in 4th while Massa stayed 5 places behind. Maybe it’s time for Ferrari to clean their eyes and glasses. Just think how long Alonso has been held in two races before (one suggestion – by team orders). Those guys are in different leagues.

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