Chinese GP – The Decisive Moments
Chinese GP – The Decisive Moments
Strategy Briefing
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Apr 2010   |  1:35 pm GMT  |  122 comments

The Chinese Grand Prix has provided a whole host of fascinating talking points.

But in terms of the key decisions taken on the day, they revolve mainly around whether or not to pit for wet tyres in the first few laps and then how to recover from the wrong decision.

And these were game changing decisions, which decided the results of the race.

All smiles when you get it right (McLaren)

The race started in drizzle. Not enough for a change of conditions to be called, so everyone started on the soft compound Bridgestone tyre.

At the end of that lap the first batch of drivers wanting a switch to intermediate tyres came in. This included Adrian Sutil, who started 10th on the grid. By stopping first he gained places over drivers who were in front of him on lap 1, but who delayed their stop for intermediates to Lap 2, such as Schumacher, Vettel, Webber and Hamilton. Sutil was 8th and ahead of all those drivers once everyone who was pitting for inters had made their stops.

He probably thought that he would be further up than that, but this was the point at which the strategists realised that drivers like Button, Rosberg, Kovalainen and the Renault pair were not going to stop for wet tyres.

As we would see all day, if conditions changed and a decision needed to be made, the early adopters were usually the ones who gained from it.

It is worth pausing to consider the merits for a team of splitting the strategies at this point, bringing one driver in for intermediate tyres and leaving the other one out on track.

McLaren did this, as did Mercedes. In McLaren’s case the driver who made the wrong choice – Hamilton – still managed to get onto the podium, thanks to the intervention of the safety car. He beat two other drivers, Rosberg and Kubica, who took the correct option of staying out on dry tyres.

A split strategy like this is always hard for a team to take, unless one of the drivers is up for the risky option, as Button was in this case, because no-one wants to lose out.

In the case of Shanghai the wet weather looked set to stay, in other words there was no indication in the data the teams were studying to suggest that it was a passing shower, rather that drizzle and light rain would persist. So staying out in the face of that evidence was a risky decision.

Right choice in Malaysia, wrong one in China

Championship contenders Red Bull and Ferrari chose not to take the more adventurous approach and it cost them both. They ended up making twice as many pit stops as the winner. Alonso, who also lost time for a jumped start penalty, finished fourth and Massa ninth, losing the lead of the drivers’ and constructors’ championships in the process. Red Bull turned a front row lock-out in qualifying into 6th and 8th places.

It is quite interesting to see the quote from Alonso after the race where he explained how he and Ferrari arrived at their decision, “It was a decision taken by everyone, consulting via radio,” he said. “The winning decision was taken by Button. I do not know if we would have been capable of making the same choice. ”

What was it like in that moment when teams had to decide whether to leave one of their cars out on slicks? Speaking to engineers, it was quite surprising that the slicks worked in those conditions.

The track was quite warm before the light rain had started falling and the water that fell must have evaporated off the surface quite quickly.

Either way, after only one lap on the intermediate, Schumacher realised that he had made a mistake and pitted to refit slicks. He was the earliest adopter of this plan and was followed a lap later by Alonso, Barrichello, Hamilton and Vettel. By making the early call Schumacher went from 13th place to 6th. And whereas Hamilton, for example, was 51 seconds adrift of the leader by lap 7, Schumacher was only 38 seconds adrift, despite having been just ahead of Hamilton before making that second stop.

The other key decision was whether to go with the soft or the hard tyre at that second stop. There was a real mixture of choices here. Both Red Bulls went for hard, but struggled to warm them up. Hamilton went for hard too and was immediately almost a second faster, ripping through the two Red Bull cars in quick succession. His success on the hard tyre, coupled with the good fortune of a safety car, which took him from 47 seconds behind the leader to just 5 seconds behind, was the foundation of his recovery from that early wrong decision on tyres.

The hard proved to be the right choice in that situation, once they were up to temperature. Schumacher, Sutil and the Ferrari drivers went for soft, but then found that they didn’t last. The soft tyre only seemed to endure on Sunday afternoon for the drivers who used them from the start.

The problem all the runners on new softs then suffered from, but Schumacher worst of all, was left front graining as there are five corners in Shanghai, which really hammer the left front tyre.

All in all a big day for decision making and it was the key to success. As the winner, Jenson Button said after the race, “It was a tricky race out there and again we called it right and it means a lot. It is not just about being quick.”

Chinese Grand Prix – Lap time cluster

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James: could you get a higher res pic of the All smiles when you get it right (McLaren) image



Hi James

Need your assistance. I can’t seem to locate the next page comments. Usually it appears at the end of the first page. So did not get a chance to read all comments, which I like to very much. Could it be my computer as I’m on Apple?

Will appreciate your guidance.


Brilliant, insightful article James.

This is the exact reason I log into this website so many times everyday.


Schumi is over, you can shorten your name to “Tifosi” or “TornBetweenTifosiandNothing”


James, I’m sure i know what you’re answer will be, but i was wondering if you could shed any light on the rumour of a slight spat between you and Hamilton?

The rumour involves Hamilton refusing to be interviewed by you after he took offence to something your said or wrote about him??

Would be interested to know if there’s any truth in this.


If this is a true, I will have an even greater respect for James ALLEN.

When you see how he talked to his team in AUSTRALIA once he knew the extra pit stop was a bad idea, and when you see they way he talked to Ron DENNIS on that famous day when he clashed with ALONSO, what do you expect from that guy ?!

Besides, I don’t see what an interview of Hamilton or any other driver will bring as informations safe for Mark Webber who is someone who speaks his mind. The others are there to give you the PR answers they’ve been taught.

When you consider the post race Briefing, James brought this year + the technical developments he added, that it is a much better piece of informations than a lewis hamilton interview who you end up having reading the team’s press release.


that would be totally childish of that “cool”, “friendly”, “always smiling and thoughtful of F1 fans”, “driving in the mechanics pit area”, “waving”… Lewis Hamilton….


Where did you read that? It’s not true. I have experienced that once or twice in my career, many years ago, but not with him.


I think people forget Button’s first attempt at Spa, it was raining that time too, he dived in the pits for slicks early, made it work, the rest of the field dived in and couldn’t make it work, clearly its just a gift he has


I’m reminded of Jean Alesi, he always seemed at his best when on the “wrong” tyres for the conditions.


Alesi was the dictionary picture-boy for “car control” particularly in the wet!


Jean Alesi, what a talented guy. I will never forget his debut.

He wasted his career at Ferrari. I am pretty sure he was due to go to Williams but chose Ferrari wasnt he?


is that right?


Alesi was a real FERRARI Tiffoso, so his decision to move to FERRARI was more an emotional one rather than a calculated one.

I don’t think he was that good in the rain, he was good but not special.

When he was in DTM, he was spotted in McLaren Mercedes garage due to his contractual obligations but as soon as he ended his DTM career, you only spot him in FERRARI garage once in the paddock.

As for his rain skills, I remember that Schumi beat him in rainy conditions with BENETTON and when they switched teams the next year Schumi beat him with FERRARI. So is he that good when it rains ?????????


thanks. Hindsight is an invaluable thing isn’t it 🙂


Alesi had signed an option with Williams for 1991 but opted for Ferrari instead. At the time it looked like a good move – Ferrari was fighting McLaren for the title, whereas Williams were very clearly the best of the rest. As it worked out, Ferrari had an awful 1991 season while Williams emerged as title contenders and showed a few glimpses of the form that would see them dominate 1992 and 1993.

Of course, had everyone appreciated just how good Adrian Newey was (Newey’s first design for Williams was 1991’s FW14) then Alesi’s decision might not have taken him to Maranello. But hindsight is 20:20.


Fed up to the teeth with Hamilton/Alonso – What about Nico Rosberg? – damn fine drive – damn fine driver – hardly a mention… Would Jenson be in his position if had stayed at Merc F1??


I must agree with you totally. How about Kubica? He’s good.


Kubica is doing a great Job with Renault, and that’s reminds me of Heidfeld. I think that the german ended with more points than Kubica in at least one of the last couple of seasons. If he’s not better than Kubica, he’s very close to him, yet nobody hired him.

He’s always had that bad image (relatively to his performances) with both the media and the audience. That leads to a couple of questions :

– why is that ?

– why a team such as hispania racing ends with SENNA(The one who can’t die racing given the speed at which he drives) and Shanhock instead of Heidfeld ?


I like Rosberg, i think he’ll be a dark horse this season


To be honest, I am not impressed by Rosberg. He did a lot of mistakes with williams when he was in a good postion. He is easy to overtake as well.

I don’t know how good he is at developing a car and creating bonds with his team but I sense that he has a lot of shortcomings.

As for his performances, is he that good or is Schumi out of it ?!


James- I always thought it a brave move by you to throw your blog open to reply’s from the public. You see lots of them on the web and they degenerate into a petulant slanging match between the posters. Very unfortunate. If we can keep the personal stuff out of the comments that would be great. This looks like a vintage year for F1 with 3 different winners in the first 4 races. Most of the best drivers are in most of the best cars. Up to 10 different drivers could snatch a win in any particular race. We’ve all waited a long time

for this to happen. Let’s kick back and enjoy.


Chris, I’ve been posting here for quite some time now (since late ’08) and I have to say this site is 99.99 (recurring)% free of petulance and slanging matches. Posters tend to disagree on some of the more controversial issues, but it’s all adult and mature discussion… most of the time. Which is a big respect to James and to all the posters. People will disagree, that’s life… as long as we all respect others opinions, there’s no problem 🙂

My feelings re: the China incidents…

I think Vettel and Hamilton are very lucky to get away with just reprimands for their pit-lane duel. I feel they were both released within a second of each other, so no blame lies with the lollipop men… but Hamilton should have conceded ground (he span his wheels and lost the place); Vettel should not have edged over… there are people in that pit-lane, not protected by the tub of their car or by barriers; if those two had hit each other and gone spinning about in the pit-lane, carnage would have ensued – I was not comfortable watching that! The way it’s utter madness during pit-stops at the moment… something horrible is going to happen in there and it won’t be pretty… thus I felt the penalty should have been more stringent.

As for all the other China incidents; no problem for me. I don’t think Button slammed the brakes on at the end of the long straight – I’m with iceman’s description of this (see above). Plus, the camera cutting to Hamilton going onto the grass, was far too late to determine Button’s actions prior to the hair-pin. Alonso’s move on Massa – ha ha – fantastic and cheeky and regardless of the spiel coming from Ferrari; I wouldn’t be happy if I were Massa. I think we may see a slightly more forceful Massa, provided he has the pace to be at or near the front. Hamilton and Vettel entering the pits? Well, again it was resolved outside of the actual pit-lane (before the pit-speed restriction line), so no problem for me – they might have taken each other out, but they would not have wiped out a set of engineers.

What else was there… well, tyre choice in inclement weather is always something of a gamble. More rain – Rosberg, the Renault’s and Button would have been sat in gravel traps or going so slowly that they’d have been mobbed by those on inters. With hindsight we can all see it was the best choice to stay on the slicks – so good call to those who did.

Bahrain apart, this season has been stunning so far… should it be renamed “Bah! Rain.” 😉

I imagine Spain will be dry and we can see who sits where in the pecking order (after updates etc)… Barca unfortunately always provides a procession though.


The only problem Michael Schumacher has is the fact that he is Michael Schumacher.

Being him, it is inevitable that he will always be judged on a different criteria, and the level of praise or criticism for him will also be equally different from others.

Remember though, the reason Ross Brawn hired Schumacher (from his interviews in the past months) was that even after Schumacher’s retirement from the sport and at this age, he was able to race against many current top drivers and was able to beat them in the various events they entered outside of F1. This included newly crowned champion Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, as well as Felipe Massa.

This year Schumacher was already able to get within 0.045 seconds of Rosberg at the second attempt. Hence there is no doubt that Schumacher HASN’T lost it and he definitely has the potential to beat this kid. Rosberg isn’t someone special like Senna or Fangio, he’s just an orthodox, fast F1 driver.

But in a way this situation is good for Michael, because in order to rediscover how to win again, he’s learning how to lose first. It isn’t as much a test of his driving skill as it would a test of his mental reserve, to see if he is able to pick himself up from what would be such a massive fall.


Oh yes, what about when Jenson slowed down suddenly during the safety car period and caused all the cars to bunch up, even Lewis went out into the run off area. I thought it was hilarious watching drivers trying to avoid each other. It could have taken out some cars. As much as I like no penalties, but some so called incidents are rather obvious. Can we have fans voting “live” for penalties, but that would be hilarious too, lol.


I won’t labour this point any more after this, but did you see the replay from Button’s rear facing on-board camera? It clearly showed that he did _not_ slow suddenly. Quite the opposite in fact.


Looks like fans of Lewis are waiting for the him to trounce Button. A dry race in Spain will be proof of Button’s dominance in McLaren. We shall see.


Indeed. It will be excellent to see wont it.

I prefer Jenson but actually want both to do well. If they are both pushing for the championship it can only drive on the development of the car.

I think Jenson has the edge in damp conditions, but it will be the first time to see them race distance (hopefully without rain).


Dry race won’t decide who’s better because between them, the better qualifier will end ahead of his team mate no matter what ! When it’s dry with the new rules, it is all about qualifying.

You’ve got only to remember how long did Alonso suffer behind Massa in Australia yet he was so much quicker


it is hamilton and alonso all the way they are the best driver and both have the fighter power

wish they will fight at the end for the title


The big question still to be answered after this race is why was Button not able to predict the volcanic ash cloud … or was he?


Hes not going to Europe hes going on holiday!


thats why he had plans to go straight to japan not back to the UK


and the earthquaqes 😉


Why stewards find it hard to penalise HAMILTON. Boy, I hate this guy ! I’ve never seen a Formula1 driver wave the way he did with PETROV.

What if Hamilton was behind PETROV ?§



watch the weaving in slow motion and see who moves first. If Petrov was moving and hamilton blocking then I would have a problem.

As I saw it, Hamilton tried to break the toe and Petrov followed him. He didnt have to follow Hamilton and could have gone straight in which case Lewis wouldnt have changed direction again.

Saying you hate someone, just because you arent a fan is a bit schoolground isnt it?


lewis knew from the previous lap that petrov can pass and he will push for it… and than, he went to erratic driving in front of his direct opponent… if you follow a car that goes right-left-right-left-right, at any speed you need to slow down…. what petrov did was very smart… he followed because it was the only way to keep hamilton in his sight…

very dangerous and aggressive driving….


It is his behaviour, his arrogance and all his caracter. We are humain after all and when you compare Hamilton catacter to vettel’s, button’s or raikonen’s….

You sense that the guy is not sincere, not authentic in his behavior and his declarations. That’s something you don’t notice with the others. HAMILTON doesn’t want to be the best, he want to be the best and as much he wants to be the star.

He wanna advertise a cool image (sthg he said) while he’s far from cool. He wanna hang out with show business stars which no other driver does….

Is he a great driver, of course. Is he a complete package, far from it.


THANKS for explaining YOUR VieWs on thaT.


I’m afraid to say that it was not illegal. It has been very extensively debated, but the general conclusion from what I have read on various websites, blogs and on TV coverage, is that he was breaking the tow. Petrov was not in an overtaking position. He was minimum one car length behind. And it was not happening into a corner. There are no set rules on breaking the tow. Since the incident, the drivers have clarified the issue between themselves, in the Shanghai race briefings. And they have agreed that in the future one move is the limit. But crucially it was not illegal at the time, and in the given circumstances it was not really particularly dangerous.


Because he didn’t deserve one any more than Vettel did and also to make silly haters like you angry! Seriously build a bridge and get over it!!

Jake Cooper, Australia

Well mate you sound like a little worked up about all these. I’m not a Hamilton fan at all what so ever either. But I don’t hate him. I just think his moves should be looked at very closely & penalized when it is appropriate. He is an excellent driver without any doubt. But that doesn’t mean that he should get away with so many insane behaviour on the track (off the track isn’t my concern). Vettel, Hamilton & Button all should’ve been penalized in China. I am not convinced by any means that stewards have done any good by not imposing penalties for those incidents. Unfortunately, the penalties will probably be handed out to other drivers for less significant reason. And that will probably change the outcome of the championship. That’s just not fare


Hi James,

When you meet JENSON next time, why don’t you ask him for weather forcasts ?! He seems more accurate than radars.

He might help you to plan your next holidays.

Jake Cooper, Australia

It is a bit odd that he has been able to make the right calls so accurately so far, isn’t it? Well I think he is just making serious gamble to have the upper hand in the championship early in the season. As we all know gambling is good only when it pays off. Because when we do have dry race it is unlikely that he will have the same result. Then the point advantage will still keep him in the mix


I think the key is he hasnt forecast whether it would rain or not, he is making a judgement about whether he can maintain/improve pace.

There is a lot of evidence to show over the years that Jenson is good at slicks in the damp when others come in.

Anybody who just puts it down to luck is not really being objective.


You’re wrong Andy. I agree with Jake, Jenson is gambling because once it started raining someone pitted for intermediates and he was the fastest. When almost everyone moved in his footsteps, they did so not because they feared loosing their cars on the damp track but because they know that if it kept raining and they didn’t pit they would have lost so many positions.

By keeping on track on slicks a driver gains a couple of pits stops relatively to the pitters if the track dries quickly, but if the track keeps getting wet he might loose up to 20 seconds per lap and he will find himself way down the field.

For someone like Rosberg, Renault or Sauber, the gamble is worth it because they might find themselves in a unique situation where they might win (ROSBERG), get a podium (RENAULT) or some points (SAUBER).

For BUTTON, the gamble might give him a lot if it works (pulling a gap on the championship contenders) but it might backfire and he would end up loosing a lot of points to all championship contenders.

The question is whether he is going for such tactics because he want to take opposite routes to Hamilton (fearing direct opposition) or because he is in a gambling mood or because he follows his instinct. Whatever the reason, it worked beautifully right now but I am sure it could have been the opposite that same day and he would have looked a complete fool.

The good point is Jenson showed he was pulling a gap on Hamilton late in the race on intermediates and that he beat him fair and square in qualy till now.

If he keeps his dominance on his teammate on a dull dry day, I think that Hamilton will take a big hit on his confidence and given his caracter I fear for the mood inside the team.


Not so accurate when he stayed in the pits during qualifying, then spun off trying to get a lap time..


i am impressed with button. He is driving very well, let’s see how he can handle a direct attack by hamilton, vettel or alonso in the next few races.

I doubt many people expect him to be world champion again this season, but no many fans thought he was going to get two victories out of four races either.

How many more can you win this year jenson? I won’t bet against you, that’s for sure.



Mercedes GP is talking about giving Michael a new chassis for the Spanish GP without going into the details of why…..

Could it be a case of a cracked chassis/tub that has kept Michael off the pace, particularly in China?

The same thing happened in Indycar race on Sunday at Long Beach, CA. Graham Rahal had been so far off the pace the whole weekend and apparently the car did not responded to any changes made. Finally it was tracked down to a cracked tub.

Can you get any information on that? Thanks.


Lets hope the new Mercedes hasn’t been totally revamped to fit Schumacher’s preferred style of driving.. for Rosberg’s sake!


On Speed TV they talked briefly about how the Ferrari’s F-duct will be and it sounded awesome.

James,can you please write an article about it?



Unless it has some sort of rocket on it, I cant see how they could optimise it as quickly as McLaren who designed it into their crash structure.

Ferrari might need rocket power soon, as they wont have any V8s left to use 🙂


Once understood, it is so simple. It is not some aerodynamic device that will modify the car’s beahviour, it only stalls rhe rear wing. I don’t think that it is very hard to put on a car, the problem for the teams is to find a way to activate it and desactivate it without using a hole in the cockpit as McLaren did, because their cockpits can’t be modified anymore I think and even if it is possible they should go through carsh tests and build new cockpits which is a huge waist of time money and resources. So I thing the problem for the other teams is more linked to figuring out a way of activating and desactating the rear wing stalling process.

For once McLaren finds an idea without cheating ! They are even starting to manufacture their own road cars. The new car is ugly, the engine is german…. I think Ron DENNIS will die envying FERRARI


Why will it be so awesome? just wondering, because in theory McLaren’s design will be optimal as they had time to configure it before the car was built, so it should be the easiest to use, and the most efficient. after all, reducing the drag on the rear wing is going to result in a very similar speed change for all cars, its just the manner in which they do it that can be different – McLaren should have the best way.


The decisive moments in this race sadly had little to do with the racing, and everything to do with the stewards ignoring the rulebook and letting drivers away with major infractions. Hamilton, Button and Vettel all broke clear-cut rules (and I say this as a Vettel fan myself). All three drivers should hence have been penalized for their infractions.

Hamilton is particularly egregious by the regularity with which he’s breaking rules. He broke no less than three separate clauses of the Appendix L in the last two races, and one clause of the sporting regulations. Button and Vettel both broke one clause of the sporting regulations apiece.

Hamilton should have been penalized under Appendix L to the International Sporting Code, Articles 2c and 4d, which prohibit leaving the track and gaining an advantage, or crossing the line separating track and pit entry without force majeure. He broke both rules by passing the pit entry and then backtracking across the grass to the pit. He should have been penalized under the Sporting Regulations, article 23j, which forbids unsafe release from pit stop, since Vettel’s car was already passing when he was released from his stop. Finally, at the previous race he should have been penalized under Article 2b of Appendix L, which forbids weaving to defend a position (which is why Hamilton wanted to break the tow – so he couldn’t be passed at the next corner).

Button should have been penalized under the Sporting Regulations, article 40.11, which forbids erratic braking or maneuvers likely to endanger other drivers or impede the restart, once the safety car turns its lights off. He broke this rule by slowing so much under the safety car that other drivers were forced to leave the track to avoid collisions.

Vettel should have been penalized under the Sporting Regulations, article 40.5, which forbids any car from driving unnecessarily slowly on the track, pit entry or pit lane while the safety car is deployed. This rule was broken when he deliberately held up the cars behind him to gain advantage in the stacked pitstop.

The rules are there for a reason, and if they’re not going to be enforced, they should be removed. Most of these rules are there for reasons of either safety or sporting fairness, and allowing them to be broken without penalty (and in most cases without even being investigated, even when the violation was so clear that the TV director made a point of showing the infraction in replay) makes a mockery of the sport.

Hamilton in particular shouldn’t have been let away with anything, just one race after he’d already made an infraction of the rules so bad that fellow drivers who weren’t even involved in the incident felt the need to discuss his behaviour both in their pre-race briefing and in the media.


Did you see the rearward replay from Button’s car at the safety car restart? It made it quite clear that there was no erratic braking or anything that could be interpreted as a maneuver.

He braked quite early for the hairpin (but smoothly and progressively), was fairly slow round it, and did not accelerate at full speed out of it. Basically he seemed to be continuing at safety car speed after the safety car had left the track, which surely cannot be considered an offence when safety car conditions still technically apply.

The problem was that other drivers were expecting him to bolt earlier, and were jockeying for position to try to pass one another at the restart. I would say that was a problem with their expectations. The rules don’t say, or imply, that the leader must resume racing speed immediately after the safety car has left the track. The leader becomes the safety car, and is allowed to decide when to accelerate back up to racing speed.


totally agree…. if the other drivers don’t know about circumstances and wanted to raise the issue with charlie, I don’t know who does than?


So far, no major accidents has occurred and no one has been hurt yet. When it happens, it can be a bit late but that’s just human nature. Good for the fans without any interference but bad for the written rules not executed. I’d go for the rulebook.

So is Alonso guilty too when he passed Massa at the entrance of the pit?, as I’m supporting Alonso. Then there’s a term in life we use “give and take”. We are the fans, and we do need some fair answers too.


Huw and Spencer replies are pathetic. I mean if each time drivers escape penalties and get only reprimands, they will have no more respect for the rules.

I don’t remember seeing any driver wave the way hamilton did with PETROV but given that everybody considers PETROV as rubbish being there only to fill the grid, Hamilton could do whatever he wants. In Shanghai the mistake wasn’t his but was his team’s. His mistake was to not back off and let VETTEL lead the way in the pit lane. He should have been penalised twice yet he escapes with nothing.

The other drivers should have been penalised as well as knoxploration pointed out. I totally agree with him.

Jake Cooper, Australia

Mate it looks like only you and I respect the rule book. Those two replies weren’t researched at all. Not giving penalties for those significant incidents establishes a very bad precedent. I agree with Martin Brundle when he said he wonders how many times drivers will have to make the same mistakes until they don’t get away with those kind of behaviours. Button also slowed the car behind the safety car for no reason what so ever. The biggest problem is that somebody else will be penalized sooner or later for similiar or even less significant reasons. I’m with you and knoxploration on this. There’s no difference between creating a bad examples by the stewards.

Jonathan De Andrade

I believe most of people who thinks drivers should be penalised due to recent events are blind fold. For the first time Im feeling excited again about F1. The warrior spirit has returned! FIA did a great move by having ex-drivers as stewards, fairer judgement. you can list 6/7 potential contenders for the WC, when did this happened last time? Who was complaining about processional F1? Alonso, Vettel, Button, Hamilton they want to win fellas, as did Prost, Senna, Mansel, Piquet, Schumacher. you cannot drive like a priest. as bernie said: let the men race!!

I think Senna’s death back 94, triggered a paranoid movement towards safety, which in most cases lead to unproven rules aimed to guarantee the pilot’s physical integrity. Now this paranoia is being questioned in loco, as for many years it has plastered F1. I think we are having an amazing and historical chance to watch water changing direction in F1. some will keep the old mentality and resist to accept that. a last thought: ‘there is philosophy within rules, do not look the rule itself, understand its philosophy’


The incident with petrov was not illegal. There are not set rules about breaking the tow, he was not weaving dangerously into a corner, or while petrov was close enough to overtake. Since the incident, the driver have got together and clarified it amongst themselves, however at the time there was no rule against it.

The incident in the pit lane, the issue I have is not that he was released at the same time, (I’m sure the lollipop man made an honest mistake), the problem is Hamilton’s decision to drive alongisde Vettel down the pit lane. And Vettel’s subsequent decision to push him to the side, both were dangerous and should have had a penalty.


why are you so fixated with hamilton pal?there are at least 23 other drivers who are news worthy.Its becoming rather tedious frankly.


Man….thank God u are not a judge in a criminal court….u guys just don’t/can’t/aren’t able to understand that rules and laws must NOT be followed blindly neither in motorsport nor anywhere else! Judges and stewards always MUST decide taking into account all the relevant facts and CIRCUMSTANCES of every case separately! By saying all what u said, u just showed that u can actually….just read! brain use? 0….anyway, let’s hope that the good start to the season’s stewarding continues!!


Exactly, I completely agree – laws cannot and should not be followed without space for maneuver – the drivers were not being too dangerous for the most part – the only bit I really had a problem with was Vettel and Hamilton side by side inside the pit lane, but that was an honest mistake by the lollipop man, not a decision to drive dangerously by the drivers. Hamilton should have backed off, Vettel should not have pushed him, and it sets a bit of a precedent. But in my view, the other decisions were the right ones.

But that second safety car was a bit dodgy…

Jake Cooper, Australia

Let’s forget about who was driving what car. You still think Hamilton & Vettel didn’t make unsafe move in the pit lane? You still reckon Button signifactly slowing down the car behind the safety car without any reason what so ever was fine? Well if your answer is ‘yes’ to both of my questions then it’s no point having factual debate. Just check this out for a second


I personally feel that having an ex driver on the stewards panel this year has made for far better racing.

Less intervention for me makes for better racing.


Bah humbug!!

Personally I thought it was a great race with excellent stewarding

Jake Cooper, Australia

Mate there’s a big difference between being biased and good research. The research says that the stewards ignoring the rule book, rain & safety car in key moments decided the outcome of the race. This is probably the simplest research of the race you can ever think of. So, if you reckon the stewards were excellent, I wonder who really is biased


I believe that Hamilton and vettels incident with the release of Hamilton was a racing incident and the stewards made the right move, both cars were released within half a second of each other, the reason Hamilton ended up by the side of vettel is because he spun out of the box, please note however that Hamilton acknowledged this and left both space for vettel and the pit crews, what I do believe was dangerous was vettel squezing Hamilton at this point and pushing him into the pit crews, If a penalty should be handed out than it should go to vettel.

With regards to button slowing down the pack, yes it was extreme but he didn’t slap on the brakes, the cars behind him had time to react but didn’t expect it, I can’t say this is not wrong but rather than a penalty this should be raised and revised at the next drivers safety meeting, isn’t that what they are for?

Now the other point mentioned was the “excessive weaving”, he was trying to break the tow of the car, there was noone near them on the track, I quite enjoyed that moment and showed what racing truly required, I think people have overreacted with that situation, if he kubica thought it was dangerous to go so he wouldn’t have followed him all over the road.

I’m starting to feel that everytime anyone wants to race they are being held back by rules and regulations that are not clear enough and can be interpreted either way, a racing driver will explore any option to get that 0.001 of a second over his competitor, it is up to the fia to clarify what can be done. Michael Schumacher who is now classed as a legend proves that, as does Fernando Alonso


James, I am wondering if you could shed some light on the Schumacher situation. It has been said that he had no traction coming out of the corners and why is this affecting him and not Nico, and that there was something wrong car/chassis which is what Norbert Haug alluded to after the race, I simply do not believe that this lack of pace his down to him, as he’s too good.



I think he is just rusty personally. If the setup does not suit him and they are making characteristics changes for him for Spain thats fine also, but I dont think there is anything wrong with the car (especially not for all 4 races).

I suspect what he meant was the car doesnt work for MS.

Jake Cooper, Australia

It will be good to know for sure. Schumacher’s performance has of course raised the question whether or not he should’ve come back to F1. If we witnessed the same performance by any other driver I don’t think there would’ve been so much fuss. However, there have been only 4 races so far this season. He seems to have problem with working the tyre & struggling for grips a bit. It’s not that Rosberg’s achievements are any less worthy. There’s something not right with Schumacher’s car. That is why Merc is about the change the chassis for him in the next race. I think everything will be fine again as soon as he wins a race or gets on the podium ahead of his much younger team mate.


“In the case of Shanghai the wet weather looked set to stay, in other words there was no indication in the data the teams were studying to suggest that it was a passing shower, rather that drizzle and light rain would persist. So staying out in the face of that evidence was a risky decision.”

Not completely sure about this? What race was it last year where we had mountains of black cloud overhead, only for it to hold off and ruin the inters? Going by last season and this so far, the best strategy seems to be to wait until conditions on the track actually dictate a tyre change. I can’t believe they are getting these forecasts so wrong. Time to go back to a guy in a field or boat a mile away to get the true picture?


Hi James,

Not really relevant to this post but can’t get in touch with you any other way (your contact e-mail is bouncing mails). So, just wanted to know what you make of Schuey’s troubled start to the season and especially the disastrous showing in China?




Will do something on that


The second SC was totally unnecessary. It ruined Nico’s and the two Renault’s race. I understand that the show is the most important but come on – races cannot be fixed by Charlie.

Jake Cooper, Australia

Decisive moment of the season as far as racing goes. Might as well not have any rule book along with no refuelling this season.


You spotted perfectly, we learnt in this race that safety cars are there to enhance racing… I suspect Bernie order the safety car deployment.


exactly, thanks to that race we have learnt about new boundaries for F1racing….


I dont mean to sound like a Hamilton fanboy but saying “Hamilton got on the podium thanks to the safety car” is not a fair account of what happened. The safety car did help, but he did also overtake 12 cars.


without safety car it was 100% impossible to see him catch the podium.

Besides, another driver had a race as great as hamilton with overtaking and so on and it is FERNANDO ALONSO. He had harder circumstances with a drive through penalty and he didn’t have an F-duct which makes his car quicker on straits which should help when it comes to overtaking


The F-Duct does not actually give the McLaren as much of a straight line speed advantage as you think, as the advantage has allowed them to put more wing on the car. It may still be one of the quickest down the straight but not that advantageous. Also Fernando’s drive through was his own fault. Still, he drove very well.


With the F-Duct they had more straight line speed than most other teams. As for the teams with similar top speeds, they had to sacrifice downforce and as a consequence they compromised their speed in the twisty sections and in the corners leading to the straights. So in any case the F-Duct is such an advantage. Well done McLaren more than HAMILTON eventhough he’s very special when it comes to overtaking.


Without SC there was a slim chance for him to get on the podium. He had gap to Kubica at least 35 seconds. Second SC was deployed at circa 28 lap out of 56 and he was lapping Kubica almost 2second per lap. Thus he could catch Kubica 8-10 laps before finish. Given his tyres were tired enough, whilst Kubica would look after his tyres, passing past Kubica would be difficult however probable.


Perhaps off topic, how about decisive moment with second SC deployment? No words? Good boy, beautiful…commentary.

Jake Cooper, Australia

I’m sure a lot of readers as well you James have read this article by Martin Brundle. Still thought I’ll share the link with everybody. This article sums up the race and the outcome from the most independent view possible. Lets see what the Alonso, Button, Vettel & Hamilton fans think about this.


I’m a Button and Hamilton fan, and I thought Martin was not too harsh.

I didnt think Jenson should have slowed right down personally, but I dont read the rule book as to whether it is actually contravening any rules or not.

On Lewis/Seb in the pitlane, whether they both came out of the pit box at broadly similar times, you cant have them side by side and edging towards the air hose doing 50Km per hour.

Lewis right front wheel missed the airlines by what looked like no more than 12 inches, if that he caught in his suspension at best it would have ripped a loan of lines down into the pitlane, and at worst could have diverted his car towards

I think what Martin is looking for is a bit of common sense from drivers, i.e one actually giving way.

I just think racing should be done on the track, and not in the pits personally where people can get injured.

Just an opinion of course 🙂


I have to disagre with Martin on both counts here and i got the impresion coultard did on the red button as well.

The Button incident is telling in that the cars imediatley behind him did not have a problem it was only the ones further down the pack had problems. As Coulthard said during the comentry it is the resposability of the drivers to watch what is going on and react accordingly.

Vettal and Hamilton incident, To impose a grid penalty the stewards would have to quote the rule that had been broken nobody to date (including Brundel)has stated which rule was in fact breached.

I think the stewards got it right on both counts but also expect the rules to be clarified and discussed in the next drivers meeting (along with the pit lane entry rules massa/alonso,hamilton/vettel)

Dont punish UNTIL rules are in place and have been breached well done stewards


I see, Independent view = One that agrees with your view.

It is a view, to say it is the most independent view shows your bias


He sounds whiney. Former mcclaren indeed Martin, there’s a reason it’s former and that’s because he can’t hack it and should leave the driving to the drivers. I saw great racing so far and excessive penalties would have ruined it.

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