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90% positive response to Chinese Grand Prix spectacle
90% positive response to Chinese Grand Prix spectacle
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Apr 2011   |  12:39 pm GMT  |  232 comments

An online poll on JA on F1 overnight has shown that from a sample of over 3,500 fans polled, 90% of them thought that the Grand Prix yesterday was really good and that the racing in China was entertaining.

This contrasts with the mixed feelings after the first races, where there was too much action in Malaysia and not enough in Melbourne.

Not everyone is happy about the new style racing, with around 10% still feeling that the DRS and the high wear Pirelli tyres make the racing artificial.

Meanwhile 55% of a poll of 6,000 JA on F1 fans thought Mark Webber was the Driver of the Day for his charge through the field, ahead of race winner Lewis Hamilton who polled 35%.

I’ve picked out two points of view from fans which sum up the general mood about the spectacle we saw yesterday, however.

Posting this morning, Simon said, “I understand [the] point that tyres are maybe of too much importance to the pace of an F1 car, but I take a different point of view than this is “manufactured racing”.

“If looked at from a completely different standpoint, F1 itself is a manufactured thing, everything is manufactured, the engine, the front and rear wings, the bodywork and everything. A few years ago it was the double diffuser that was the difference between Brawn and the rest of the field, now tyres is the differences. Because the cars from the tops teams are so close in terms of performance, any advantage would be made to looked to be a great advantage, I can’t see someone from the lower teams starting from 18th and finishing 3rd, and at the end, everyone is given the same number of set of tyres, same rules for everyone.

“But all in all, this is a personal preference. I would rather see this type of races than everyone finishing the race in order of what they qualify with no overtaking, and wouldn’t mind if everyone try to qualify 18th and overtake people to try to win a GP!”

Meanwhile regular contributor Trent said, “After watching dozens of races over the years without a SINGLE top-6 overtaking manoeuver (outside the pits), give me this formula any day.

I’m starting to think even the Spanish and Hungarian GPs could be worth watching this year!!”

It’s not all positives, though. Although the last minute adjustment to the DRS zone made for a good compromise in overtaking, it’s clear that some teams are still having problems with the DRS and KERS. Michael Schumacher lost some time in qualifying with a DRS problem on the penultimate corner and in the race Fernando Alonso had issues for the second race in succession.

A BBC producer spotted Alonso’s DRS opening after Turn 14 as he battled with Schumacher, in an area where it should not have been activated. It only opened for a couple of seconds, but it raised questions about the synchronisation of the system.

According to the BBC, the FIA explanation of the glitch was that Alonso’s system was activated late. Instead of opening 750 metres before Turn 14, it opened 300m before and was still active after the corner.

It’s clear he didn’t gain any advantage from it and it was a glitch so no penalty applies. But the teams have three weeks to perfect the DRS system before the next race in Turkey, where it will again play a major role in the racing.

Photo: McLaren

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Hi James,

Worn tyres and normal racing

Although race provided the excitement and unexpected results

It’s all about the tyres, saving fresh sets and tyres which has done less laps proved to be the right strategy

This does not bodes well for the future, pirelli tyres are very fragile which does not allow drivers to push

Few races in 2010 was far more exciting, bridgestone provided much durable tyres which allowed better racing and on track fight rather than results based on tyre wear and strategy

Too many artifical variables decides the outcome, here is one hoping to see some real racing as season progresses with much durable tyres and less pit stops

As usual very nice analysis james


When the day comes that a car outside of the first 2 rows wins a race, then come and talk to me about how these changes are helping the sport. DRS/Tyres/KERS are all a smoke screen.


I don’t normally post because on such a (typically) well informed board my thoughts are normally on screen from someone else before I’ve had them. However, I have a thought on the 2011 rule changes that hasn’t been expressed yet.

There has been lots of uncertainty on strategy and thus excitement in the first 3 races. The vast majority of this uncertainty is due to the tyres.

When the teams get a fuller understanding of the tyres does anyone else think we’re just going to be back to all the teams running the same strategy (whether that is an optimum 2 or 3 stops on a given circuit)?

I guess I’m arguing that the only reason the first 3 races have been so exciting is that all the teams are frantically trying to get to grips with the new rules and tyres.

What do people think?

If you agree I guess this suggests that we should change the rules every year to keep the teams guessing at the start of every season!



Drop the DRS immediately as its aweful to watch a car go past another when they are configured by the FIA – the driver is entirely irrelevant.

I used to get a real buzz watching a driver overtake another – with DRS there is a numbness – there is ZERO emotion watching a FIA configured car go past a handicapped car.

Hell, why does the FIA not just automatically kill the engine in the car infront for 5 secs in a designated zone? No need for dangerous wings…?

The only saving grace was the soft tire compounds… this is the only factor that made the race interesting. The real fix is still to have less aero…


still think this new formula makes passing far too predictable in tyre wear situations. in many cases as soon as a car on newer tyres began to catch one ahead on older ones it was obvious he was going to get past.

late in the race when hamilton began to catch vettel, it was clear that vettel wasn’t going to win the race because he had nothing to fight back with.

the thrill of watching a racing battle is that you dont know the outcome, watching one car catch another knowing full well hes going to get by is no fun.

every single pass i saw with cars on tyres at different stages of wear at shanghai was predictable, was more a matter of where would the pass happen than would the pass happen.

if every race is going to be anything like this then sorry, im not intrested.

ive been watching f1 for 47 years, i’ve been to hundreds of races around the world, i love f1, its been a huge part of my life in that time & i’ve loved every second of every race untill now.

i dont want to leave f1 behind but i loathe what its become so much i may end up having to.


Not James and not an answer, more of an opinion, but I think that some of the incidents in a race that get people exercised and wanting penalties handed out are things that are covered in the drivers’ briefing. Each track has its peculiarities and what’s acceptable at one track, such being side by side exiting the pits, is not at another. Perhaps in this case the drivers were told the pit lane line was only in force after the intersection with the track line.


I think this race had elements of everything that made it stand out. A battling Webber from 18th place, both McLarens jumping Vettel, Hamilton’s excellent overtakes, Rosberg and Schumacher in better positions.

But also it cannot be underestimated the effect of DRS on the long run down into turn 14. Most of the action happened here and the strategic placing of DRS here helped an awful lot.

The ultimate test is on the boring circuits such as Hungary and Barcelona. If F1 can be entertaining here then its job done. While im still slightly baffled by the race strategy and find it tricky to follow certain drivers positions and pit stops, you cannot complain about the action on track.

Top stuff. Also one minor gripe, why does the race director switch from battles on track to show a car in the pits. Surely a split or mini screen is all that is needed for pitstops so you can show both the overtaking and the important pit stops. The race director is critical to the entertainment factor of the race and pulling away from the action to show a stationary car or pitstop can be really frustrating.


I read on another forum that jut over half the overtaking moves in the race happened in locations other than turn 14.


It would be worth trying a race without DRS to see what happens. FIA always maintained they would have open mind about the advice, so why not having Turkey for example without it. With KERS and especially this year’s tyres I have an impression DRS is not really needed to spice up the show and the races would not be much worse without it. After all this is the bit that most find to be unsatisfactory (read fake) way of providing overtaking.


The races are way more interesting now.

If you can tell me you are not glued to the telecast and on the edge of your seat you need to do something else. DRS and KERS and all that technical crap which seems to upset the hardcore is attracting viewers full stop.

Hello… we have overtaking now and sh*t loads of it. The teams are busier, the drivers are busier, the fans are busier.

The people with the hardest job are the broadcasters and commentators trying to feed us all the info in a meaningful way.

With regards to China, the racing up front was as interesting as the race down the field at various times.

What a year it is and will continue to be !

I expect to see more coverage of drivers up and down the positions within the race. This means more advertising for the lower ranked teams and at least a little more TV time for them and their fans.


Yes, This race is fun. One thing is come from the tyre.

But if Vettel didn’t lost the 1st place at the start, he could possibly runaway from McLaren and make the gap then the tyre strategy would be difference

If Vettel get 1st on the first lap, he might still win the race and Lewis might not stop him winning.

ps: I am Lewis and McLaren fan

Tyre and KERS is Fair artificial for the race because anyway driver have to involve on how to manage their tyre and when to use KERS, everyone have the same thing.

But for DRS, I don’t think it fair technology for racing, one can use it but another one in front can’t use it without defending tool. One driver have to loss the place without doing anything wrong just because the car behind has DRS, I don’ t think it fair at all.

Suppose the one has loss the win to DRS in the last corner, so he was beaten by the other driver or was beaten by DRS, and the winner win by his own ability or win by DRS.

How the winner can be proud if he win by the DRS.


It looks like we have found the magic number for the DRS, 750 metres. The FIA have now got to make sure that this remains the same for every race from now on if possible.


Hello James,

One more question 🙂

God, I just cant stop asking so many questions to James.

I regularly saw drivers going over the white line on the pit exit but none of them were taken into consideration by the FIA.

Are there only certain regions of the white line at the pit exit that a driver is not allowed to touch?


They mentioned this on the BBC, its only the white line from the exit of the pit lane whereas the line they were crossing was from within the pitlane.


Hello James,

2 questions.

1) Strange that neither of the races saw a Safety car incident. Could it be because the drivers are more focussed on working on the tyres than taking undue risks for position?

2) On Star Sports, I think Steve was mentioning something about the DRS being ineffective if the engine is limited by the revv limiter and something to do with gearing ratios as well.

I appreciate if you can clarify these.


You are right, we should have had at least one safety car by now. I don’t think you can say the drivers aren’t taking risks for position. Look how many passes there have been.

What he was probably saying was that they moved the DRS zone. It ends at the same place, but it was reduced from 900 to 752m. Given that gear ratios had to be decided on Friday night, the concern was that the cars would get bogged down early in the race when they were heavy.


Don’t read too much into the absence of SC so far. It’s like years where it’s exceptionally hot or freezing, it just happens.

There’s no reason why incidents shouldn’t happen and it’s only a matter of time


I agree, three dry races does not a trend make.


I realize in advance I’m going to catch a lot of flak for this, so I will strt by saying of all the English speaking boards about F1, yours consistently is the best in terms of minimizing fanboy garbage and trolling.
That being said, I want to really challenge you to think if the widespread appreciation of this weekends race was ecause it was actually better than the previous two or wasnit because of two of the three faces we saw on the podium today. Most importantly the top step.
I’m an RBR/ Vettel fan, and I loved the race, in spite if the outcome but I also thought Malaysia and Australia were equally as thrilling. My wife is eagerly awaiting the european/ American schedule so I actually sleep at night, because I have gotten so pumped up the last three races I can’t go back to sleep and sundays are a writeoff on productivity as a result.
Back to my original point, I feel for the most part like discussion is reasonable, but I’m a little bit skeptical that on a race that I saw as not particularly different other than who won ad suddenly all the pirelli critics and DRS haters suddenly are 90% satisfied. Call me cynical but I’ll wager the last 10% would have turned if button had been in Vettel’s place. Ready to be flamed now, but ask yourself if the satisfaction ratings for china would be so high if Vettel had passed Hamilton on newer tires and with the latter being unable to defend. I’m perhaps too negative but highly doubt the response would be anywhere near 90%… rant off


It’s also exciting that someone (*anyone*) other than Vettel won. No-one wants a season of constant dominance by one driver/team.

e.g. if Rosberg/Massa etc won it would have been fantastic.


I am not 4 McLaren and less for Hamilton. Other contributors remind me of that too often.

But I am sorry to go against you but this race was the best in an already exceptional start to the season. I’ll give you my reasons for that :

From a pure racing point of view it is the 1st time that the winner was decided so late in the race and by an ontrack overtaking move. In the other races places were swapped this way after the last pit stops but it wasn’t for the lead and that makes a huge difference.

The 2nd point is that the difference between 2 or 3 pit-stops wasn’t obvious and we were thrilled till the end seeing the drama unfold and knowing who got it wrong from who got it right and that included racing for win, podium and points

The other point is that no matter how good is racing ontrack, if a team or a driver manage to build a huge lead the championship looses its appeal and the stakes of each GrandPrix become less interesting. That’s why I hoped that Vettel doesn’t win yesterday and thankfully he did for no mistake of his but for the wrong strategy.

Third point, as you mentioned, this blog is full of Ham/McLaren fans for whom Ham victory added to the entertainement and to the appeal which is understandable.


I hear what you are saying about the nationalities involved but as always there is a bigger picture here. I get a sense that the racing is more widely considered entertaining now. I know from my TV days that there are many millions of people who are well disposed towards the sport, but who in recent years didn’t watch it more than a few times a season. They will watch more often now, because it’s really fun to watch. It will pull in the casual viewer in a way it wasn’t doing during the years on Bridgestone tyres



I do agree with you to a point coz living in the UK but not being british born there are a lot of “brilliance” related stories (& commentary) if Ham / Button wins but “must have car trouble” excuses when Vettel is lapping faster than them or wins the race. But, there is a lot of support and money from the UK going into F1 so the British media would have an interest in keeping the fan base growing & the investment in the sport. I cringed alot when the commentators announced Ham to be driver of the day & most other neutral supporters gave it to Webber. Unfortunately for Vettel or other drivers fans, if Ham / But win, the ratings will go up regardless of how good the actual race was.

Going back to racing though, I think the race format is much more interesting & entertaining than the past few years. However, my concern is that pole position is now not important at all and the shift from qualifying being all important to racing being all important has swung too much the other way. The top teams will only need to be in the top 4-6 grid positions to be in with a chance of winning. To do this they save a set of options for the race & use their primes in the second / third stint saving a brand new pair of options for when the track is rubbered in & the fuel load is low.

Monaco & Hungaroring will tell if quali is important or not. I think that if a driver wins from 5th or lower then quali has lost its importance & viewer numbers will reduce on a saturday. This links back to the first point of investment & if only a one day event Bernie & his merry men will have to re-visit the tyre situation – but, in my opinion, only to tweak it to bring quali back in to the equation.


Just a thought, but listening to your point and agreeing about qualification too and demonstrated by Webber.

What about if they changed the rules so that everyone uses one type of type compound for qualification, its possible tho given this weekend that teams will just use the prime tyre for qualification.


Gimmicks have made this 40 year fan turn off the no longer sport. I suppose if the rules required that drivers had to change their own tires it would approach the reality shows that F1 seems to be striving for. But all this artificial stuff has as much interest as watching a roulette wheel choose winners. Driving skill is no longer required. I am glad to have been able to watch Clark, Senna and a few other real drivers.

Hamiltons win accounted for much of the favorable vote from China not the farce of a race.


Thank you SantaFe, well articulated and I feel exactly the same as a fan of 15 years.


So you sat through a season or 3 of computer driven Williams’ annihilating the greatest driver who ever lived but this is all a step too far? In ’93 you couldn’t lock tyres up, spin wheels off the line (or bog the engine down.) To pass another driver the car was raised at the rear (removing diffuser from the airflow) by a button at the same time as an extra bit of power/RPM was released, I would suspect a decent clubman driver could get a sight closer to Prost in an FW15 than he could to Vettel in an RB7.


You’ll be back


DRS is not completely fool proof yet I guess. When Alonso braked his DRS did not shut, he and Ferrari will receive sluggings I’m sure. By the time DRS is perfected rules will change again and we’ll be thrown off once more.

KERS is only good if teams carry a reliable system. Newey does not like it at all and likewise.

It’s entertaining while drivers tip toe around with worn-out tyres. Almost a wet race effect. It’s quite comical to me. “Ok ok pass me now, but watch it when I’m on fresh rubber I’m gonna get ya”.

But China’s overtaking wasn’t as rampant as Malaysia.

Rules should stay for at least two years. Didn’t FIA scream about cost savings.


Have to admit I’m slowly warming to 2011 regs. For TV viewers, in recent seasons you could watch opening 5 laps and the last 5 laps, go do something else and you wouldn’t have missed much in between. This season its back to

I’m starting to think its TV broadcasters that need to catch up with the regs now – they need to have constant race update feeds running on the bottom (include driver positions; gap times; current tyres; number of stops; predicted lap next stop, etc.) also need to have some kind of split screen action when there are multiple scraps going on or maybe have F1’s live feed of the circuit map showing realtime positions of each car…unfortunately it might start looking like a videogame but that’s where this new technology is heading anyway…

Webber’s post-race throwaway comment about saving tyres for the race by not bothering to qualify is not as ridiculous as it seems for the RB7…

Its seems the new regs appear to work on Tilke tracks…how will the Pirellis super soft and softs work on the street circuits? I’m optimistic that there might be some usual overtaking at Monaco this year…


Overtaking at Monaco? Now that would be heavenly!

I can’t wait.


One of the most exciting ‘dry’ races i’ve seen in my 16yrs watching F1. Unpredicatability at its best made all the more exciting having the F1 live timings to hand on my PC seeing how the 3 stopping strategies could be faster than the two stoppers.

Post race Mark Webber said (along the lines of) he wasn’t sure he liked this type of racing… as a viewer it was the ‘raciest’ i’ve ever seen him. And Hamilton, i’m not his greatest fan but it was great to see him triumph in this manner. Thank you Pirelli


I was so excited by the race I watched the last ten laps stood up. Lewis catching Vettel was reminiscent of him catching Glock in Brazil to take the championship. However, I can’t quite explain why but I am not convinced by the tyre situation. I think one thing is for sure unless you are chasing statistics as they say Vettel does I don’t think there will be the clamour to get pole in the future. Lewis has set a precedent of getting close enough to the front whilst still preserving an extra set of tyres.


There’s this the old saying: “This is the second worst thing that could happen. Everything else is tied for first.”


James, Have I wronged you so deeply.

You apprear not to want to accept my electronic contributions…I know I may have sent a post that contained some words that your mods felt duty bound to remove, but does that warrant removing me completely from the debate..?

Thanking you in advance



Whilst China was clearly far better than the processional racing served up in recent times, I still don’t think that passing cars on shot tyres with drivers unable to offer any defence is really overtaking in the true F1 tradition.

In previous years, cars were able to overtake even at tracks such as the Hungaroring (e.g. Nigel Mansell) without being forced to run tyres which are designed to fall apart after 15 minutes (surely the exact opposite of what a tyre is supposed to do?).

Failure to limit the influence of aerodynamics and subsequent huge team expenditure on wind tunnels has led to a situation where cars cannot follow each other and slipstream without “Wacky Races” style gimmicks, they also now make it less likely that teams and the FIA will agree on any drastic measures that would address this. The Overtaking Working Group should be reconstituted with the mandate of truly enabling the possibility of overtaking by means of driver skill without button pushing or disposable tyres.


Thank you for your opinion. I agree.


>>still don’t think that passing cars on shot tyres with drivers unable to offer any defence is really overtaking <>Failure to limit the influence of aerodynamics <>The Overtaking Working Group should be reconstituted with the mandate of truly enabling the possibility of overtaking <<

Pure Fantasyland, Dude. The OWG, full of ppl a lot smarter than you and me, failed miserably, year after year.


You obviously don’t understand why a top team would not want to compete more fairly with the lower team… think money… and you will be enlightened on why the overtaking is fail in F1.

Fairer racing would allow low end teams to compete more effectively if they manage to get a good driver…

This is the root cause of F1’s sickness.


I spotted the DRS popping up on Alonso’s car too and doubtless millions of other fans did too.


James, I was one of the 90%. I believe that we saw very exciting racing and it was somehow easier to follow, as patterns in strategy begin to become established.

I am a fan of the new Pirelli tyre.

I do feel that the DRS is potentially unnecessary, as I believe that the vast majority of overtaking moves that we saw were a result of relative tyre degradation. Equally, I believe that KERS is not much more than a PR gimmick that has only contributed to race results due to occasional unreliability issues.

So, while I belong to the 90% that enjoyed the race, I am not pro everything.

However, when teams know more about the tyres, they will be able to optimise their strategies and, so, a pit-stop pattern will emerge (to an extent, we saw a pattern yesterday). More drivers will be on the better strategy and this will reduce, or even negate the advantage of getting it right. DRS may play a bigger role then (and may also be further optimised).



There is a key difference between DRS and tyres in terms of making races artifical.

DRS is artificiall in that the lead driver is largely defenceless – this removes the skill of defensive driving. Remember a few seasons back when Alonso fended off Schumi for many laps – it was great stuff. This skill is now lost.

Tyre degradation isn’t artificial to me – a chasing driver doesn’t have an unfair advantage, like with DRS.

So I enjoyed the racing generated by tyres, but not the artificial overtakes generated by DRS.

Given that the tyres are making the bigger contribution to overtaking, I would like to see DRS dropped now so that the FIA can determine whether the tyre specs are enough to generate the type of show we all want to see.

My guess is that DRS is unnecessary.


We need more overtake not more defence.


Absolutely brilliant Grand Prix – one of the best i’ve seen.

Loving F1 at the moment reminds me of the epic racing we saw back in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Some awesome driving from loads of different drivers in particular many the perceived ‘number 2’ drivers proving a point i.e Massa, Webber and Schumacher.

Red Bull will need to get on top of their KERS issues sooner rather than later otherwise they will start to be at the mercy of the Mclarens.

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