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Chinese Grand Prix – Who was your Driver of the Day?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Apr 2013   |  11:11 pm GMT  |  411 comments

The 2013 Chinese Grand Prix delivered an entertaining race which saw a third different winner in three races this season and plenty of impressive performances all the way down the field.

Ferrari’s double world champion Fernando Alonso took an impressive victory, building on a fantastic start to take his 31st career win. Kimi Raikkonen felt he could have challenged for the win in the Lotus had it not been for a glitch at the start and damage to his nose following a collision with McLaren’s Sergio Perez.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton couldn’t match his scintillating qualifying pace in the race but did his best with the car he had and was rewarded with a second successive podium. Reigning world champion Vettel produced a thrilling recovery drive from ninth to take fourth, narrowly missing out on a podium.

McLaren’s Jenson Button took fifth after starting eighth thanks to a good strategy while Daniel Ricciardo scored the best finish of his career with seventh in the Toro Rosso – but who was your Driver of the Day?

Fernando Alonso

A brilliant start was the cornerstone of a dominant drive to a victory. Moved up to second at the start and then passed Hamilton for the lead as the Mercedes driver struggled with his tyres. From there he controlled the race, only losing the lead when he fell out of sync with those who started on the mediums and therefore ran deeper into the race. Found himself behind Vettel after his final stop, but knew the Red Bull had to pit for soft tyres. Even so, the Spaniard passed the German for the lead. Took his 31st career victory and second in China, equalling Nigel Mansell for fourth in the all-time winners list. Closed to within nine points of championship leader Vettel.

Kimi Raikkonen

Recovered from a bad start to finish second and move to within three points of championship leader Vettel. A glitch at the start meant the Finn didn’t get away cleanly, dropping from second to fourth. Moved up to third at the first stops as Felipe Massa dropped back, but then hit the back of Perez who robustly defended his position. Broke the nose of his Lotus as a result, but decided not to pit. Jumped Hamilton at the final stops to move into second where he remained. After the race, he said he could have challenged Alonso for the lead had the team got everything “100%” right.

Lewis Hamilton

Started from pole and though he lacked the race pace to keep the lead, drove well to take third. Made a clean getaway from pole to keep both Ferraris at bay, but quickly found himself in trouble on the soft tyres. Both Ferraris past him before he pitted a lap later. Moved back into second after Massa dropped back. Dropped down the field during the next round of stops, he eventually found himself back in second but lost the position to Raikkonen at the final round of stops. Suffered on his final set of tyres in the last couple of laps but a couple of mistakes by the chasing Vettel saw Hamilton hold onto third.

Sebastian Vettel

Tried a different strategy, starting on the medium tyre, in a bid to bring himself back into the race but agonisingly missed out on a podium. Started from ninth and maintained position in the early stages, but rose up the standings as those on soft tyres ahead of him pitted. Found himself second, behind Nico Hulkenberg but lost time as he struggled to find a way past. Leapfrogged Hulkenberg in the pits and gave chase after Alonso, slowly cutting into his lead. Took the lead when Alonso pitted, but was past by the Spaniard shortly after. Pitted on lap 51, rejoining fourth, 12 seconds behind Hamilton and though he closed the gap to under a second, a couple of small mistakes on the final lap ended his hopes of stealing third.

Jenson Button

Started the race on the medium tyre which allowed him to go deep into the race and even took the lead before eventually finishing fifth. Maintained position at the start and then rose up the field to lead as those on soft tyres pitted. Managed his race well by pushing and then conserving tyres when required. Dropped down the field when he pitted late for softs, but past Massa for fifth which is where he went on to finish.

Daniel Ricciardo

Qualified well and finished seventh – his best result in Formula 1. Made a good start, but dropped out of the points after the first round of stops. Showed good pace from then on in, putting a good pass on his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne at the hairpin. Climbed back into the points and was even catching Massa in the closing stages but ran out of time. Finished seventh for Toro Rosso’s best finish since the 2011 Korean Grand Prix.

So who was your Driver of the Day? Leave a comment at the bottom of this story. 

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1

Late to the party.

Kimi is my DOTD for driving with half of his nose ripped off the car.

2

Alonso.

3

It was a high quality race from most of the top drivers and some others too.

I think driver of the day cannot go to one driver, but to two – Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen. Both were fantastic in their own way. Alonso had a fairly simple win but that was of his own making. Raikkonen in a damaged car was fantastic in taking it to Hammy and securing 2nd place.

An hnourable mention have to go to Jenson Button for absolutely maximising the potential of the McLaren and driving a very tactical race to beat many cars that on paper should have been ahead. Also an honourable mention to Daniel Ricciardo who made a strong case this race to Red Bull main team given now that its look extremely likely Mark Webber will leave Red Bull at the end of the season.

On that note James, any insiders news on the reported 5 year contract Mark signed this weekend to join Porsche in the WEC and Le Mans starting in 2014? It’s basically been reported here in Australia as fact. Porsche have denied it which must mean its true! 🙂

5

My prediction is Hamilton will pull an Alonso 2012, losing out by a few points due to an avoidable crash with Maldonaldo

6

If Vettel made it to the podium, he’d have my vote. As it stands, I’ll give it to Alonso since he had a faultless race. Kimi had a good drive nursing a damaged car.. however, it was his miscalculation that caused it to be damaged in the first place.

7

Vettel, no question. Three races on the championship and the only driver doing the show is Vettel, the race yesterday was boring until the last 5 laps of Seb, if he accept the team orders in Malaysia that would have been a very boring race.

8

don’t see how you can assign a driver of the day……..when all of them are driving well within their limits, to controlled laptimes.

you might as well turn this feature into ‘car of the day’.

thats not just an opinion from a ‘pirelli basher’ , that is what the drivers say they are having to do over the course of a grand prix. Fact.

the drivers are 100% passengers, apart from the racecraft required at the start of the race. They’ve acknowledged as much.

[mod]

9

Let me get this straight.. You think that controlling an 750 hp beast with no antispin, no abs going from 320 to 100 in less than 75 metres, AND be gentle on your tyres does’nt require any racecraft or skill?

10

I don’t understand what your last sentence (which has been moderated out) was about. It was highly offensive and there is no evidence to support what you say

So why say it? I would like you to explain, please

12

ALONSO – driver of the day…. period!

13

My DOD is Fernando for his aparently straightforward race but I wouldnt like forgetting the amazing work carried out by Kimi. I do agree on saying both drivers are in my opinion the really bulls of the competition. I dont forget Louis.

14

Got to be Alonso in that amazingly fast Ferrari, though honourable mention to Vettel for making the last few laps so thrilling.

Hope you’ll be giving us a report of whether Vettel’s strategy was correct for him. I’m doubtful whether qualifying on the softs would have made a difference particularly bearing in mind the brake problem or if pitting for softs a lap earlier would have got him up a spot or two. Personally I think Seb himself had it sussed when he said he lost the chance of second (don’t think the win was ever possible) behind Hulkenberg.

15

Hi James,

Just a thought, at pre-season testing many commentators predictions seem to imply we wouldnt not get the 7 different winners like last year.

Looking at china one can argue Hamilton, Webber and Massa are also in contention therefore it is not out of the question to see 4-5 different winners this season.

Do you think Hamilton/ Mercs can convert a pole into a win?

16

Daniel is my choice of the DOD award this weekend.

given the current rules (which I hugely disagree with) any of the above could EASILY be argued to be DOD, IMHO.

5 elite constructors with 5 WDC drivers holding 8 drivers championships did exactly what I expect them to do – deliver with near brilliance virtually everytime out.

Daniel has quite frankly been a bit of a let down for a year and and a half, and one race does not a superstar make… BUT, as an “almost” rookie, he was nearly perfect and quick all weekend and delivered 3+ positions beyond anything I expected during the race. my hero for a day!

kudos to Jules – kid seems pretty special. I doubt many would think Max belongs in F1 on merit, but I for one am not so down on him. he is laying the groundwork and has an excellent opportunity in getting closer to Jules to show he “belongs” by years’ end… go Marussia!! 🙂

17

JB – DOtD since he drove intelligently to get a better result than the car was up for. Hope McLaren get the car sorted soon to give him a chance to catch up before it’s too late.

18

Alonso gets the nod because had a perfect drive and the victory. But all of the top-4 had great races. They each had challenges to overcome- two of them had front wing challenges that definitely limited their lap times. Vettel made the strategy work as well as he could, but he really should have gotten past Hulkenberg. The time he spent behind him definitely cost him 2nd.

Good drive by Ricciardo. He made Q3 and finished where he started. You can’t ask for much more than that from a Toro Rosso driver. If he can have weekends like this more consistently, me thinks Vettel will have a new teammate next year. Or this could be a “once in a while” thing in his second year like it was with Alguersauri, and Red Bull will coldy cut he and Vergne off and throw in Da Costa and another soon-to-be victim of the ruthless and impatient Red Bull driver development program.

19

I think first

Alonso for a great drive. Then a mention to Kimi for the problem he drove around to a good result.And for Ricciardo for bringing the car home from a great qualifying place to the same race result.

20

Alonso. Kimi effectively damaged his car,he wasn’t at fault but takes some of the blame. I’d rate Hamilton second and I would give Kimi 3rd but, frankly I think Hulkenberg deserves special mention, again. Please get him in the other Ferrari or Red Bull or Lotus.

21

Alonso, no mistakes, when needed he made every pass without drama or delay. He did not lead from the front and just lap backmarkers as some people suggest. Utterly faultless.

22

ALO, near perfect race with speed in hand. Bodes well for Ferrari’s & Alonso’s championship hunt.

Honorable Mention goes to Ricciardo, great result for STR.

23

Probably going against the grain but I thought this was a mighty performance from Vettel considering the alternate strategy and how me just missed out on a podium. Up 5 places from quali wheras Alosno, Kimi and Lewis all qualified within the top 3 and started on the soft compound. Vettel for me.

24

This one was down to the wire between Seb and Lewis. Both had to drive a near perfect last lap to take the prize. Lewis had to hold his nerve as the weakened prey. Seb had to be incisively perfect in his attack. Seb erred in his final swoop for the kill. Lewis lived to run another day. The guile of Lewis evaded the speed and strength of Seb. Lewis is my driver of the day.

25

Perez was the driver of the day…

He’s so funny to watch. He must be taking advice from Button seriously.

26

driver of the day was pirelli. they took away all the drivers’ performance.

still impressed by hamilton’s desperate cries for blue flags.

27

Not a fan, but has to be Alonso. Good to see Ricciardo get a great finish in what is probably a make or break year for him.

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