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Felipe Massa sets the pace in Shanghai
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Apr 2013   |  8:32 am GMT  |  133 comments

Ferrari finished the Friday practice session in first and third places with Felipe Massa setting the fastest time and team mate Alonso third.

The pair were split by the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, with Nico Rosberg fourth ahead of Mark Webber.

It looks like it could be a competitive race, with qualifying certain to be important, but race strategy likely to be the decisive factor, with managing the difference between the soft and medium tyre the key to it.

Mercedes had been the clear pace setters on the medium tyres in the morning and at the start of the second session.

The soft tyre runs, where the fastest lap times were set, were carried out in the first half of the session. The Mercedes went to them early on, when the track was still improving, Rosberg finding almost a second compared to the medium tyres. Others gained up to 1.5 seconds, especially the Ferraris.

Switching to the soft tyres a little later, Felipe Massa did a clean lap, 4/10ths faster than his team mate Alonso. The Spaniard is keen to avoid being outqualified by Massa here, as that would be the fifth time in a row, something that has never happened to him before in his F1 career. Raikkonen split the Ferraris on his soft tyre runs.

Massa in particular looked like his old self on the soft tyre, making the most of the increased grip levels it offers. Later in the session on the medium tyres his lap times were good.

The tyre degradation on the Ferrari also looks encouraging. There were signs from the tyres of Button’s McLaren after its new tyre run that the car was understeering a little, leading to more damage to the left front tyre than some of its rivals. Later in the session Button suffered what he believed to be a delamination of his front left medium tyre later in the session.

Having set their times early, Mercedes concentrated on race preparation; long runs, covering a lot of laps to make sure that they have good data for strategy planning for Sunday’s race. Hamilton did the most laps of anyone, with good medium tyre performance, looking like Mercedes were preparing for a two stop race, as they did last year. Hamilton did 27 laps on a set of mediums.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel complained of vibrations during his long runs and mechanics were seen to grind down the top of his bargeboards, an unusual way of fine tuning the airflow mid-session!

Pirelli say that the data shows that the medium tyre is good for 20 laps in the race, which means that the race could be done in two stops, but it will be touch and go, while the soft is much faster relative to the medium than Pirelli was expecting.

With an advantage on soft of up to 1.5 seconds per lap over the medium, it will make the first stint on Sunday very interesting and will add to the spice of the race strategies. The moment when a set of new mediums is faster than a used set of softs will be crucial to establish.

Max Chilton had a frustrating session; the Marussia driver stopped out on track early on and although he managed to get out later in the session, he stopped again with fluid leaking from the back of the car.

Sergio Perez had an off in the morning, crashing at the pit lane entry in the McLaren due to low front tyre temperature at the end of a long run and he was off track again in the afternoon, although without damage.

* Tonight is the deadline for entries to our unique performance driving competition, involving Ferrari reserve driver Giancarlo Fisichella in London. Don’t miss your chance to win one of the three places on the event!

CHINESE GRAND PRIX, Shanghai, Free Practice 2

1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m35.340s 32 Laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m35.492s + 0.152s 32
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m35.755s + 0.415s 30
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m35.819s + 0.479s 35
5. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m36.092s + 0.752s 31
6. Jenson Button McLaren 1m36.432s + 1.092s 29
7. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m36.496s + 1.156s 39
8. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m36.514s + 1.174s 32
9. Paul di Resta Force India 1m36.595s + 1.255s 33
10. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m36.791s + 1.451s 27
11. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m36.940s + 1.600s 16
12. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m36.963s + 1.623s 31
13. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m37.103s + 1.763s 22
14. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m37.206s + 1.866s 39
15. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m38.127s + 2.787s 34
16. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m38.185s + 2.845s 18
17. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m38.211s + 2.871s 32
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m38.276s + 2.936s 34
19. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m38.725s + 3.385s 29
20. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m39.271s + 3.931s 21
21. Charles Pic Caterham 1m39.814s + 4.474s 27
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1m43.227s + 7.887s 5

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My dear James, I am very surprised that the continued and lamentable pit stop strategy at Ferrari overseen by Domenicale and Smedley which have now reached risible proportions, has not received more official scrutiny and comment. How can a driver who has devasting pace and laptimes in both Practise and Qualifying, lead the actual race – then be told to pit to come out in around 8th place? Certainly costly errors do occasionally occur, but surely not as a matter of course in every F1 GP to the detriment of one particular driver? Best wishes, Rhuairi


They under fueled Webber car by 750mls.

RBR claim the Bowser was the problem.

What, no flow sensor on the bowser ?

No Flow sensor or Level sensor in the car !

They have hundreds of sensors on the car and high tech fuel bowsers but no Flow or Level sensors on the car.

Give me a break !


Maybe it is time for a rule change. Allow Q3 drivers a one-off set of qualifying tires, and then allow the choice to start the race on whichever tire compound they want.

The fans will get to see the best drivers not having to protect their tires in qualifying for the race. Plus the extra tires will make a Q3 spot more valuable, instead of starting 11th being a potentially better starting position than someone in 7th-to-10th.

Maybe the Pirelli tires have gone a step too far, but they are only doing what was asked of them. I think as many people would be complaining if ‘race distance tires’ returned and the only overtaking that occurred was in the pit-stops.


Good idea.

Didn’t they have quali specific tyres back in the day? (I might be wrong)



Would it work as the soft tyres seem to last 6-8 laps on Sunday:

Any top team driver sets his fastest lap in Q3 on soft as his 1st try, then sets a time on medium during the final one to start on it so he can go med-med-soft. Seems he is gonna be in the clean air & leading after lap 6-8, so he can take care of his tyres and go deep and in the last stint he ll be the fastest on the softs.


It’s not the tires you end Q3 on, you must start with the ones you set your fastest time with.


Hi James,

The first race in Melbourne indicated the Lotus was good on its tyres but in China it seems to be a different story and the Ferrari has had better tyre wear.

What could be the reason behind this?

Thank you


Someone, please give Maldonado a hug!

That guy must be suffering anger management issues with the number of times the Williams developed a mind of its own and took to the grass. Any dude in such shoes could do with some fatherly type love and reassuring.


These tyres are simply horrid, Pirelli are starting to go way too far.

Its no longer about racing, Its no longer about racing hard, Its become a tyre conservation formula where everyone just runs around well off the limit because if they dare try & push the tyres fall off a cliff.

Pirelli’s fans say ‘tyre management has always been a part of f1′ & that is true, However at no point in the history of F1 has it ever been anywhere close to as important as it is today.

At no point in F1′s history has the biggest story before, during & after a race weekend been tyres yet today all you ever hear about is tyres & is starting to get ridiculous.

Its no wonder you hear drivers talk about F1 racing been less physical today because there all driving around to a lap delta at 70-80% the limit & that is zero fun to watch & has to me zero entertainment value.


This is a fair argument. I have one for the other side.

I think the new tires have been a nice spark on the engineering side. F1 has been attacking almost every area of innovation for the longest time, and there needed to be something to get the creative minds going again. Enter the new tires, which require having a fundamentally strong balance and mechanical grip in the race car to make the tires last. It’s one thing to have a car with a ton of downforce like Red Bull does that allows Vettel to slay the car in the corners, but if you don’t have the balance right, you’re going to destroy the tires in the race. So the challenge is to find a solution in which the car has very strong fundamental balance that can be honed aerodynamically over the year. Enter the hydrolic suspension system that Lotus and Merc have, which could carry them to winning two of the first three races. And they’re doing it not by just managing the tires, but by having a strong race car with very good balance that minimizes slide and preserves the tires. F1 needs to do more things to get innovation going again.


What’s with Massa constantly outperforming Alonso lately?


It’s called talent – something he’s always had, he just lacked the confidence & belief fr a (long) while. Now he’s got all three again & it’s looking good 🙂


Everybody wants to see Felipe qualify ahead of his much advantaged teammate, I am already buying shares in pram toy companies in the Asturias region.

Otherwise, for the rest, it looks like a great race weekend, Lewis pole and win, or can Rozzer pip him this weekend ?



Would a Medium, Medium, Soft work here?


Yes as long as you can get far enough on first set of meds


James do you think will have tyre deg which is so bad could some drivers could really gamble and come in to change to mediums on the end of lap 1?


Sorry pressed submit too early.

But what I mean is that a lighter car will be easier on his tyres, and thus potentially go further on the same set of soft, in particularly when you safe a new set of softs.


Last night on the US broadcast (yeah I stayed up to watch it live)Paul Hembery was extremely defensive about the tires. This was during a Will Buxton interview. I think will mistakenly said P1 when talking about P2 and Paul informed him there was no tire degradation in P1.

Do you guys across the pond get the Buxton part of the feed or is he only for us in the US?


Yeah, only US. Used to be Canada as well (when the Varsha/Diffey/Hobbs/Matchett/Buxton crew used to be with Speed), but discovered just before the season started that NBC Sports has not been granted a license to broadcast in Canada!

I miss them!!!

Funny story about F1 on NBC … they have a transcript up on their website of a conference call they had, to talk about the upcoming F1 and IndyCar seasons. Well, the person who did the shorthand for it, mustn’t have heard David Hobbs right, as everywhere he’s talking about McLaren, the shorthand is ‘the Clan’! haha As far as accents go, Hobbs is dead easy to understand. Maybe a bit rougher than Matchett’s, but still easy to understand. Should get that Geordie from the Alan Partridge bit on there!! 😀


Can’t speak for the UK or Europe, but in Australia I’ve never heard of him – I suspect he’s US only 🙂


Tyres seem to be THE DECIDING FACTOR in F1 this year. Tyre management has always been part of F1 but this might be a bit too much. May be the harder compounds should last much longer and be much slower than the softer compounds (i’m thinking 2 secs between compounds). Just throwing out ideas for those who may want to see quali type laps (only catch is they will be on a much slower tyre).


But then the ‘option’ tires are really no option at all.

I don’t mind tires that degrade. But ones that make drivers drive significantly slower than the car can go are not good for F1.


I have to say, it’s good to see Massa getting back in to his old form. Also, it must be expected now because Bianchi hasn’t been mentioned much even though he has again blown away his teammate and the caterhams. Not sure if Chilton is just not there yet and Marussia have a better car than caterham OR if Bianchi is just that darn good.


This race is all going to be about performance on the prime tyre, because the option tyre will be used in Q2 & Q3, and the first few laps of the race then there’ll be gone. The crossover point where the option tyre falls away beyond the point where the new prime will be faster is something all the teams will want to know, and I suspect Mercedes will have a good handle on that now.


Toto Wolff told the German daily, “Die Welt” that Paddy Lowe will replace Ross Brawn. What now for Mercedes?


I don’t know but Ross Brawn is quickly becoming one of my favorites in F1. No nonsense, pragmatic, and quiet smart. I have been watching as much Youtube on F1 as I can find and the Merc series on F1 with Nico and Ross are pretty interesting.

Ross Brawn and Vettel at Mcleran?


A few wins perhaps?

Val from montreal

Im so happy Mercedes F1 never saw a dime out of my pockets !! Never purchased a T-shirt from them and no other memorabilia either… NOTHING !

However , my RED BULL team jacket and Kimi Raikkonen LOTUS cap have been already ordered and are well on their way to my home …

Ross Brawn and the hiring of 791 was the best thing that ever happened to Brackley – and they managed nothing worth talking about …

Good riddance Mercedes F1 !


Shanghai 2007 on sky F1 today. Brilliant race, action, drama. Who showed real class, and still do?


Also stood out: great combination of James Allen and Martin Brundle. Fine commentary that added lots to the experience.

Sadly JA not commentating Sunday, but I’m looking forward to the same drivers giving us a treat.


It could be an interesting time for a team like Mercedes to try screwing Q3 and start on the mediums. I read some driver comments that the soft tires last really only one lap. If you go for a bonzai run in Q3 on softs, then you’ll be starting the race on cooked tires. By lap 5 or so, the degradation could be so bad that the medium runners start matching the times or exceeding them. The degradation will be even worse with a fully-fulled car at the start. Frankly, I don’t see how a team can do a race in two stops unless the rubbering in of the track has a big effect between now and Sunday. If a team starts on mediums and does, they can pop in at the end for a fresh set of softs and take advantage of quicker tires to do a strong run at the end while not having as much degradation with a lighter car and more rubbered-in track.

It could be an interesting tactic to maybe split the strategies of Hamilton and Rosberg. I would give Rosberg the softs in Q3, as he is a little better at managing tires and could finesse the softs in the first run. I’d give Hamilton the mediums, as he is better at warming the tires and getting a quick lap. He could maybe get a decent spot out of it, given that based on qualifying times so far, Mercedes seems to have enough of a step over the likes of McLaren, Force India, Sauber, etc. who would be gunning at the lower half of the top-10 to mitigate the loss of time on the medium.


I should clarify something. There is a way to do this race in two stops, and it requires starting the race on mediums from a Q3 grid slot. The idea is to stay in range of the soft runners as their tires fade- and, hopefully, get some time back in the death laps. Then get your driver out front in clean air (which will help tire management) and continue the run until lap 17- maybe a couple of laps early, but you’ve lost one lap from qualifying, and it’s good to give your driver a couple of extra laps of life on the first run to go for it and get as much time as possible. Plus, this will give the driver 10 laps on fresh mediums to gain time on the front runners on worn mediums. Go until lap 37, and switch to softs. Use a rubbered-in track and a lighter car to get more life out of the tires and gain time at the end with a faster tire on worn and slower medium tire cars.

Given the pace advantage that Mercedes has on the mediums, I would seriously consider putting one of their drivers on this strategy.


You should apply for Sam Michaels position, if even if it falls vacant 🙂

Scuderia McLaren

Forza Ferrari / Forza Felipe.

This loyal tsifosi has his fingers crossed.

At this point, I’d take a Ferrari win by either driver. They have not stood on top since Germany last year mid season!


If the soft tire is as fragile as it looks then all who want to get into Q3 will use up all they have.

I’m just wondering does it matter where Kimi qualifies if he can save another set of softs and of hards?


Only if the tyre management is also in perfect order..


F1 cars are doing laps 4-5 seconds slower than GP2 cars.

Thanks Pirelli and their supporters.


According to Wikipedia the lap record for a GP2 car around Shanghai is 146.470 by Kamui 2008. So yes some are slower!


Fastest race lap in last year’s GP was 1:39.960, also by Kobayashi.

So F1 cars are a good 6 seconds quicker.


sorry meant to say the gp2 are slower.


Are they? (Serious question, I don’t follow GP2)

That would be a worrying star given that the less durable tires are supposed to be faster…


The times for race trim in FP1 and 2 were around 5 seconds slower than GP2 cars go in the race.


Huh? What are you using to compare? GP2 is not racing in Shanghai this weekend. The only support racing is Porsche Carrera Cup Asia.

I don’t like how extreme the Pirelli’s have gone (a great comment I saw was someone saying “Anybody can win on Sunday as long as they dont try too hard”), but making up ‘facts’ won’t help anyone’s cause.


Pirelli are making a joke of F1! Is there a way to signup for an online petition to FIA/F1 against these tyres?

Bring Back Murray

Where did you get than information from Lol?

That can’t be right, surely?

If so that’s taking the mickey – its not F1 any more!


Is this true!? This is unacceptable for sure. For the pinnacle of motorsports…

Tornillo Amarillo

Tyre strategy: could it be 1st pit-stop in lap 3 or 4? Ridiculous!

May be midfield teams (Perez) could take advantage and got a podium.

Tornillo Amarillo

James, what is your hunch if Massa is P2 and Alonso P3 for example, there will be team orders at the end to change positions?


Why? Massa leads Alonso in the table. Anyway with 2 DRS places I don’t think overtaking will be an issue.

I can see a time when Alonso overtakes legitimately and Massa defends like usual against him and wipes them both out.

I think back to Nurburgring 2007 or Singapore 2008, there’s been underlying tension there ever since..


They might use some pit stop strategy to put Alonso in a position to win the points or the race. Unless Ferrari wants to ridicule RB by telling Alonso to keep calm and let Massa win. that would be a big slap in the face to RB. But I don´t think they are going to do that


Will be fascinating to see. One would expect so, that may well have been the basis of FM’s renewal the last few years.

It’s early in the season, but FA is some way behind Vettel at the moment after the Malaysia mistake


I would encourage Massa to go for one year of glory rather than accepting decades of second rate classification


Its fascinating how some fans focus so much on the Alonso/Massa pairing and are under the assumption that Massa is moving over for Alonso almost every race! Facts tells quite a different story.

So far this season Ferrari as not use team order while Mercedes and Redbull have very publicly used them. The focus should be on them.


I would prefer if they let Alonso pass.. but for the sport and mainly for Massa peace of mind it would be better if they let Massa take the victory. Also I think Massa would deserve it, after his huge struggle over the past 2,3 years..

The best thing would be if this situation would not happen at all, and Alonso is way a head at 1st place, with Massa at least 4 sec. behind. XD


I’d say it’s far too early to justify that kind of call, particularly if Massa is genuinely quicker than Alonso this weekend. Irrespective of whether they’d prefer Alonso to be leading the title charge, they need Massa to be performing strongly in the other car to take points off his rivals and for the constructors’ championship. Shooting his confidence by getting him to move aside in the third race would be utterly counterproductive.


Every time i think on track battle potential between Felipe and Fernando, i remember a decisive showing at the Nurburgring in ’07

No team order potential then and Fernando’s fighter spirit prevailed. He’ll deliver the goods, if he has to.


The fact that the MP4-22 had a shorter wheelbase, and therefore was more sure-footed in wet weather, probably had something to do with it as well. Prior to the rain, Massa was leading and pulling away. Nonetheless, Alonso would certainly be up for a fight if need be.


Good Massa, like the scout that he is. Going out front to check the track for the cavalry. Cause tommorow, the cavalry will come and destroy the opposition 🙂


Works both ways, Vettel only did 27 laps today, I’m sure Webbers car grabbed some good baseline data over 35 laps.


Gonna be a great race. Can’t wait.


cheese tyres


Lol! Did anyone see the slow mo with Kimi’s wheels throwing off loaves of tyre?


Yes the softs were appalling. Some cars were struggling to do 5 or 6 laps . With some drivers sacrificing grid positions for race strategy the starting line up should be intriguing. As for Marussia why on did they send Chilton back out without fixing a problem? It baffled me


They thought they had a leak from a joint in oil line and replaced it but it turned out to be a crack in the oil reservoir which they missed 1st time round.


Go Filipe, go!

I doubt you will b allowed to out-qualify your team mate, but I wish you well.

Mercedes look VERY strong.

I think it likely teams (reads Red Bull) will strap on the latest AD toys and go very well in qualifying, though race may be slightly different.

Strange the differential between Raikkonen and Grosjean; Lotus look strong; I expect their race pace to be good.

Ferrari look strong on both soft one lap and quite reasonable on medium multi-lap.

McLaren: still tough sloughing.

Force India interesting nipping at the tails of the front group in intense intra-team battle.

Sauber fallen off the radar.

Williams, oh my!

Expect the unexpected!


“I doubt you will b allowed to out-qualify your team mate”

I’m shaking my head in disbelief.. not be “allowed” to out-qualify!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Apart from the fact the he did it twice in the first 2 races, it fascinating to read that kind of non sense..

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