|Fernando Alonso races to victory|
Fernando Alonso made the most of his Pirelli tires to dominate the Chinese GP, taking his Ferrari to victory in Shanghai. Kimi Raikkonen finished in second place, 10.1 seconds behind, in his Lotus-Renault, followed by pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes, 12.3 seconds behind the winner as Sebastian Vettel's tactics could only give him fourth place, just inches behind Hamilton in a thrilling finish.
For Alonso it was his 31st career win, and his 10th since joining Ferrari. Alonso is now tied for fourth in the all-time wins list with Nigel Mansell.
Jenson Button (35.2s) finished in the McLaren-Mercedes in fifth, followed by Felipe Massa (40.8s) in the second Ferrari in sixth, Daniel Ricciardo (42.6s) in the Toro Rosso-Ferrari was seventh, Paul di Resta (51.0s) in the Force India-Mercedes was eighth, Romain Grosjean (53.4s) in the second Lotus was ninth, and Nico Hulkenberg (56.5s) in the Sauber-Ferrari finished in the final points paying position.
|Hamilton grabs the lead from pole at the start with the two Ferraris of Alonso and Massa right behind|
Teams used two different tire strategies – those who started on softs, pulled ahead for a few laps and then pitted early and dropped into traffic, and those who started on mediums, who then moved to the front, but would face soft tire degradation late in the race.
Vettel left his softs until the final five laps.
But by then, Alonso's strategy had already played out and the Ferrari's shorter stints meant Alonso caught Vettel on track on lap 42 on fresher tires at a time when both had one more stop to go.
|Alonso sets up Hamilton for a pass for the lead, which he did|
Alonso cruised away, knowing Vettel would still have to take on softs.
While the Ferrari was too far ahead by the time Vettel put on his faster soft tires with five laps to go, Vettel still had a shot at Raikkonen's Lotus and Hamilton's Mercedes, which had been battling all race.
The three-time defending champion caught his two rivals at a rate of three seconds per lap after his late pitstop and set fastest lap at 1m36.808s. He started the final lap with Hamilton in sight.
The Mercedes hung on by just 0.2 seconds, with Raikkonen staying just far enough ahead to claim second. One more lap and Vettel would have passed both of them and finished second.
As the lights went out both Ferrari men got great starts with Alonso moving up one place to second and Massa up to third, helped by a slow start from Raikkonen who thus slipped from second on the grid to fourth, while Hamilton maintained his lead from pole. Massa was right on his team-mate’s tail and by lap 4, the two of them were hassling the leading Mercedes. At the start of lap 5, Alonso slipstreamed Hamilton to get by and Massa, determined not to be left behind dived down the inside of the Englishman to be second: a long way to go, but it was now a Ferrari one-two. Hamilton and Rosberg both pitted on lap 6. Gutierrez ran into the back of Sutil on the back straight, with the Mexican retiring on track and the German in the pits.
Alonso and Raikkonen pitted for Prime tires on lap 6, which left Alonso and Hamilton to battle for eleventh. Massa pitted on lap 7, as did Maldonado in the Williams. This slightly later stop for Massa saw him drop down the order more than expected. The lead trio was now Hulkenberg, Vettel and Button, the same three drivers who opted not to set a time in Saturday’s Q3 so as to start on the Medium Pirelli. Throughout the race, there would be “false" leaders as the pit stops ran out of synch between the top 7 on the grid who started on the Soft and the rest of the field who had gone for the Medium. Lap 9 and it was Massa fighting Webber for eleventh, as Alonso now found himself back in sixth ahead of Hamilton and Vergne in the Toro Rosso.
On lap 10, Massa got past Bottas in the Williams to go tenth. One lap later the order was Hulkenberg, Vettel, Button, Perez and Di Resta fifth, all on the Medium all yet to pit. Alonso was the first of those who had made the switch from the Soft to Medium and then came Hamilton seventh, followed by Raikkonen, Vergne, the Frenchman yet to stop, with Massa 10th ahead of Webber who had started his Red Bull from the pits.
Lap 13 and Alonso was in fifth, menacing fourth placed Perez in the McLaren and the Ferrari got past as they crossed the line to start the next lap. Lap 14 and the two leaders, Vettel and Hulkenberg pitted, as did Di Resta. On the same lap, Webber collided with Vergne and the two men had to pit, the Australian for a nose and the Frenchman for a puncture. While this had been going on, Alonso was now second behind Button and Massa was sixth in between Perez and Vettel.
Lap 17 and Webber was out having lost a wheel off his Red Bull. Alonso was 0.6 behind Button but the Englishman seemed to be controlling the gap, as he continued to run on his first set of Medium tires. On lap 19, Vettel managed to pass Massa, who immediately pitted for a fresh set of Mediums. On lap 20, another spurt from the Spanish Ferrari man saw him again close right up to Button, while behind them was another exciting battle as Raikkonen harried third placed Hamilton.
On lap 21, Alonso was leading once more having swept past Button and he immediately pulled out a lead of 1.5 seconds. Hamilton and Raikkonen came into the pit lane together and left in the same order. Last year’s China winner, Rosberg, retired his Mercedes in the pits on lap 22 and Massa was eleventh after his visit to pit lane, behind Raikkonen and ahead of Maldonado. One lap later, Alonso made a second tire change, followed into pit lane by Button making his first tire switch. The Spaniard came out third ahead of Perez, again leaving Vettel and Hulkenberg, out of synch on tire changes, in the top two places, as Massa chased Di Resta’s Force India for seventh spot. Alonso was flying and dispensed with Hulkenberg’s Sauber to go second on lap 26, 3.8 behind Vettel. The gap came down to 2.1 on the next lap, as the Ferrari man set a fastest race lap. The red car continued to close on the purple one, with a one second gap on lap 28 and next time round Alonso swept into the lead once again.
Massa moved up to seventh when Hulkenberg pitted and found he now had Vettel behind him as the German had just pitted. With fresh rubber, the Red Bull was able to pass the F138 with a robust move. Out in front, Alonso had more than 11 seconds in hand over Hamilton, who had Raikkonen and Button behind him, with Vettel now fifth ahead of Hulkenberg and Massa seventh, which became sixth when Raikkonen pitted the Lotus. The threat from Vettel was ever present as he passed Button to go third on lap 36, the same lap that Massa and Hulkenberg came in to change tires, leaving pit lane side by side with the Ferrari just getting its nose ahead as they rejoined the track. Hamilton made his third stop on lap 37, so that Vettel was now second, around 19 seconds behind Alonso. However, they still both had to visit the pits one more time, the Ferrari on lap 41, the Red Bull ten laps later, so that the order between them would switch twice more, before leaving Alonso to manage the race to the flag. When Vettel made his final stop, with just 5 laps remaining, it dropped him down the order, so that Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus came home second with Lewis Hamilton completing the podium for Mercedes. Vettel and Button filled the next two slots, ahead of sixth placed Massa.
The result means that the F1 circus heads to Bahrain for next Sunday’s fourth round of the championship, with Alonso third in the Drivers’ classification, 6 points behind second placed Raikkonen and 9 behind the leader Vettel. Hamilton is fourth, followed 10 points down by Massa.
Sebastian Vettel (4th): "After the last stop, the team told me there was quite a big gap to the cars ahead, but also a big gap behind, so we thought we should go for it in the closing stages. When I came on to the long straight and saw Lewis at the other end turning into the hair pin I thought 'well, that's a bit too far', but obviously we had much more speed on the fresher tires. It was a little bit disappointing to lose out by such a tiny bit; a few corners more and we could have tried something. Nonetheless, our strategy seemed to work today. We knew it would be difficult and that it was crucial to get clean laps, but we didn't in the first stint. I was faster than Nico (Hulkenberg) but if you follow another car you lean on your front tires too much and it was hard to find the right compromise, but overall we can be happy."
Mark Webber (DNF, Wheel): "The start of the race was going okay; we elected to get rid of the soft tire quite quickly and then came back through the field pretty well. Regarding the incident with Jean-Eric, I was coming from a reasonable distance behind, Jean-Eric was really wide, but when we came close to the apex he wanted to hit it, which he is entitled to do, but by then I was committed to the inside and the incident happened. It was a couple of laps before our pit stop window, so I had to come in early. The guys thought the tire was fixed when we left the stop, but it came off on the out lap. We have had a few problems this weekend; I think we could have done something from our start position today, but it wasn't meant to be."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Having opted to start the race on the prime tire, it was always going to be a different race for us compared to the cars ahead of Sebastian. Unfortunately in the first stint, after Sebastian had passed Jenson, Hulkenberg managed to pass both Jenson and Sebastian in the DRS zone, which cost us quite a bit of time. Arguably the time lost then hurt Sebastian at the end of the race – and otherwise I am sure he would have been on the podium. But, nonetheless he drove a very strong race, managing his pace and tires very well to come extremely close to taking the final podium place on the final lap. With Mark, having taken the opportunity to change the car significantly overnight and starting from the pit lame, we elected to stop on the first lap, change his soft tires for the hard ones, and put him into clear air. His pace thereafter was excellent, he was coming back through the field extremely well, but unfortunately an incident with Jean-Eric Vergne caused front wing damage and a puncture. After changing the nose and all four tires, Mark reported a problem with the right rear on the out lap, which had certainly left the pit lane fully torqued up. The right rear then came detached from the car and caused Mark to retire. Until we get the car back, it's not possible to yet conclude the exact cause."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "Shanghai is a tough circuit for the engine, with it getting a full work out on all levels with the combination of straights and low speed corners. Although the result is not ultimately what we would have hoped for coming into the weekend, finishing under half a second from the podium, with the starting positions we had, has to be positive."
Fernando Alonso (1st): "It couldn't have gone better than this today! I hadn't won since Germany and this has a special feeling because it was a tricky race full of action. Along with the second place I got in Australia, this result shows that the car is competitive and that we are working in the right direction to always be in the fight for the podium. For that, I have to thank the team for the huge efforts it has made both here and back in the factory. They have worked so hard to put me in this position from which I can fight with the others on equal terms. We had a good feeling all through the weekend and qualifying third gave us the possibility of fighting for the top places. On top of that, maybe we were owed some good luck. Along with that all the important factors worked perfectly, such as set-up, strategy, calling the pit stops and the stops themselves. All together it produced a win that wasn't easy at the end of a race in which we made the most of our pace and did a good job of managing the tires, which was definitely the most dangerous aspect. With no one dominating the Championship, it makes it extremely interesting, even if we are aware this is only the third race. We are under no illusions and we must continue to concentrate and do all we can to improve still further."
Felipe Massa (6th): "It's difficult to understand exactly what happened today, because the start went very well. I was immediately quick and the car was working perfectly. At the first stop, I fitted the Medium tires and after a few laps I began to suffer with graining on the front. That meant I lost ground to other cars and it was probably down to a problem linked to the track conditions and my driving style. All weekend, I haven't felt comfortable with these tires and in the race, any attempts I made to save them was useless. But for this problem, I would certainly have been in the fight for the podium, but I am still confident because, all the same, I was able to bring home a good points haul which is important in a season that has only just begun."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "I am pleased with the result for the team as a whole today and clearly with winning a race that looked like being a difficult one from many points of view, starting with tire management. After what happened in Malaysia, I am particularly happy to see Fernando on the top step of the podium, because it's the best possible turnaround and it's down to a great job from the guys here at the track and in Maranello. However, I am sorry for Felipe who, because of graining, was unable to make the most of his potential, nor to secure the result he could have aimed for after his great start. This is only the third race and in a few days we will already be back on track to take on another challenge in Bahrain. In this first part of the championship it is harder than ever to come up with an accurate evaluation of the hierarchy in the field: between qualifying and the race we have seen contrasting performances for some teams and therefore we must concentrate very hard on improving the car over the single lap in qualifying, while maintaining the performance level we have seen over the long runs."
Pat Fry: "The great start from both cars was certainly the best way to begin the race. We knew the Mercedes would have a slightly higher degradation than us and the double overtaking move on Hamilton at the start of Lap 5 meant we got into the lead immediately. We also knew that we would rejoin in traffic after the first pit stop, without knowing if we would have been able to overtake the cars that were on the Medium: the move paid off for Fernando with his stop on the sixth lap, while for Felipe, who pitted on lap 7, it was more difficult, especially as he had some graining which meant he was not able to finish any higher. Overall, the F138 showed that it has a good pace and we can take satisfaction from that. Now we must immediately turn the page and concentrate on the race coming up in Bahrain. We are absolutely aware that we still have a lot of work to do on qualifying performance if we want to make the most of our race pace."
Luca di Montezemolo: "I was very confident going into this race and today I am very happy, especially for Domenicali and for everyone in the Scuderia who has worked so hard and so well at the track and in Maranello, as they really deserve this victory. Fernando Alonso drove a great race and Felipe Massa brought home points that are important in the Constructors' classification. Winning in China is very satisfying for Ferrari and it is also a source of great pride in Italian technology. Now we go on, but with our feet firmly on the ground. A thank you to the fans: it was very nice to see so many Ferrari flags in the Shanghai grandstands and to feel so much enthusiasm here in Italy."
Jenson Button (5th): "I'm very happy to have finished fifth today – and the team should be too. The race was always going to be tricky: we weren't quick enough to adopt the same strategy as the others, so we had to run longer than the rest and make two pitstops, rather than three. For us, a two-stopper was the fastest way to the end of the race. It meant I had to let others past me and protect the tires. If we couldn't run to our target lap, it would've destroyed our race. I had to cruise when I'd normally fight the others. It's not the most exciting way to go racing, but we got 10 points today because we did it. We know we still have a lot of work to do to challenge at the front, but we can take a lot of positives away from this weekend."
Sergio Perez (11th): "This was a difficult afternoon for me – there's a lot for us to analyze, and a lot to learn. It wasn't my best weekend in terms of pace, so there's some work to do. Congratulation to Jenson – he drove a fantastic race today. He found a better rhythm and really made the strategy work. I couldn't find a flow throughout the whole race and was struggling with the car. I had a reasonably good first stint and thought we could achieve a good result with the strategy, but then we encountered degradation with the tires and that compromised our pace. We still don't have the speed in the car, but it's been a useful learning weekend for the whole team, we got some useful points on the board, and we head to the next race with a clearer idea of just what we can do."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Jenson drove a brilliantly executed race. He was extremely controlled throughout, completely understood the requirements of the strategists, and withstood the temptation to push when the right thing to do was conserve the tires. Obviously the team had decided to opt for a two-stop strategy – a call that gave both drivers some work to do in the race. They each had to drive in a very controlled way, look after their tires, and be mindful that the result would be determined at flag-fall, not before. That requires a lot of discipline. The fact that we're not yet in a position to realistically finish higher than fifth further highlighted the brilliance of Jenson's drive. It was a long hard race for Sergio today. Starting from 12th, the strategy didn't quite work as well for him, but he did a great job today. He's still learning, and he'll take a lot away from this weekend – all of which will make him come back stronger for the next race in a week's time."
Kimi Raikkonen (2nd): "Second wasn't quite what we wanted, but in the circumstances it was the best that we could manage today. I'm not 100% happy because we didn't win, but it is what it is and second place is a good result after a bad start and the incident with Sergio [Perez]. It was quite difficult out there; obviously the car is not designed like that otherwise we would use it all the time, but I was surprised how good it was still. Of course there were some handling issues which was not ideal, but we just had to try to live with it and we still had pretty okay speed."
Romain Grosjean (9th): "It was a long, tough race and again we not able to make it work quite as well as we wanted. I'm definitely not happy with ninth place; we started P6 and thought we had a good chance to end up within the top five, but unfortunately we could not manage it. I did as much as I could, but I couldn't get the performance I wanted and being in traffic of course affects this. It was good to score some points for the team, but I want more in Bahrain for sure."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "It's a good result for the team today. Kimi showed once more why he's one of the very best drivers in the world by being one of the fastest on track despite sustaining damage to his car. As a team we were able to give him a good strategy allowing us to beat Lewis [Hamilton] and Mercedes in a close battle. Romain had a more difficult day, but he scored points in another race which is positive and we feel he's reached a turning point now where things will start coming together. Without the poor start and without the incident for Kimi then we definitely would have fought for a win today."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "It was an eventful race and good fun too. We had an interesting start with Kimi dropping back, but once we got onto the prime tires things went pretty smoothly. There was no way we could get past Lewis on track; even though we had very similar pace and were even perhaps quicker than him. This meant we had to achieve it during the pit stops which worked perfectly. Kimi lost quite a bit of downforce with his front wing damage, otherwise he should have been able to challenge Fernando [Alonso] for the lead. We lost around 0.25 seconds per lap due to the damage to Kimi's car. It was a more difficult day for Romain who was struggling a little bit with his tires, but overall for the team we had both cars in the points which is great."
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: "A very positive result today for Kimi that gives important points for both championships. Tire usage and degradation has once again proved to be the story of the weekend, and an area we have worked particularly hard on to deliver power smoothly with little wheelspin so the tire life is extended as much as possible. This year's racing is closer than ever so we'll keep pushing in Bahrain to maximize every area we can and stay to the front of the field."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd): "It was a good race for me today and whilst I would have loved the win, I'm really happy with third place and being on the podium for the second race in a row. Fernando and Kimi were just a little bit too fast for us during the race and my tires were shot at the end trying to keep ahead of Sebastian. I could see his car getting bigger and bigger in my mirrors so it was nice to be able to hang on for the third place. The guys did a great job this weekend to get us where we were; on pole and finishing third. We got the absolute most out of the car we had and that's very satisfying. We're not quite there yet in terms of overall pace but everyone is working so hard and I know we can do it."
Nico Rosberg (DNF, Suspension): "The race was tough for me today and with my set-up I had an unexpected level of understeer which made it difficult to drive. After my second pit stop, the feeling got worse and I had one front wheel in the air during the corners. The rear anti-roll bar, which influences the balance of the car, had broken so unfortunately we had to retire the car. It's a shame and I've had a difficult start to the season with two DNFs. But it's good to have the next race in just seven days time so hopefully we can put this result behind us with a strong weekend in Bahrain. It was great for the team to get another podium today."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We didn't quite enjoy the balance with the car today that we were expecting. Clearly the track had moved away from us and perhaps more towards one or two other teams. Certainly we didn't have as good a balance in the race as we had on Friday. With Lewis, we did the best we could with the car we had today and he drove extremely well. We needed to keep the stints as evenly balanced as possible to make sure we had adequate tire life, however, even with that, it became very close with Sebastian at the end. Nico was running with the same issues a few places back when a problem with the rear anti-roll bar meant we had to stop the car. Overall we can be confident that we've made another step forward this weekend, and the fact that we're all a little disappointed with third is a measure of the ambition and expectations of the team."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Well done to Lewis for the second podium finish in the last two races. He drove a very good race, just fending off Sebastian who had reeled him in on his option tires over the last five laps. Starting from pole obviously raises expectations, however we knew that tire management would be very critical for us today. During practice and qualifying, the track conditions suited us better than in the race today and, as a result, the balance of the car changed and wasn't as good for both drivers. Unfortunately Nico had to retire from the race on lap 21 with a broken anti-roll bar and we will analyze the reason for this. We will work hard to make sure that technical problems like the ones Nico experienced do not happen again so that both drivers can score points in the Bahrain Grand Prix next weekend."
Nico Hulkenberg (10th): "It was quite a mixed race with mixed emotions. It was obviously very nice to be leading again, and to be at the front battling with the top teams. I had a reasonable start and some nice battles in the first couple of laps. I was able to gain some positions, but, somehow, towards the end of the race, we were losing or lacking a little bit of pace. Once you are in the lead or second you understandably hope for more. Nevertheless, it might not have been the true picture, as we were racing out of sequence with other people who were starting on soft tires. But anyway, it was quite a good race. I don't think the two issues I had in pit lane made a difference between winning or losing."/p>
Esteban Gutierrez (DNF, Accident): "First of all, I had a good start, and a good first lap. At that point in the race when the accident happened, we had a reasonable speed and were able to keep the pace in order to stay with the group in front. Right before going into the long straight I had Checo (Perez) fighting behind me, and I approached the corner too fast. I was braking at the same place where I usually brake, however, didn't anticipate the loss of downforce and the amount of speed I had. I tried my best to stop, but didn't succeed. It was definitely my fault, and I apologize to Adrian (Sutil) and to his team. It's not a good feeling to finish a race like this, but we have something to encourage us to keep going and to keep pushing. We had a good pace, and let's keep moving forward."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "We are somewhat disappointed with the result, because, based on how the race went for Nico, we feel we could have achieved more. We have to investigate why the performance was not as expected in the final stint. Concerning Esteban, he made a very good start. Unfortunately he lost control of the car under braking which finished his race. So he lost the opportunities which for sure he would have had during the race. For us as a team it's important to see that the technical measures we have taken for this race are right, and we have to continue working in that direction."
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: "After a strong first lap, Esteban's race ended on lap five. Nico's pace in the first three stints looked strong. In the final stint we were not as quick as we wanted to be, and ultimately P10 is where we ended up. We need to review the causes of that once we get the car back. We are looking forward to the race next weekend in Bahrain."
Paul di Resta (8th): "A good result in the end and a strong recovery after a difficult start to the race. I was battling with Nico [Hulkenberg] on the opening lap, but unfortunately there was some contact with Adrian [Sutil] down at the hairpin, which put me on the grass and set us back three or four places. After that I was stuck in the pack, my tires were graining, and I couldn't really make much progress. It wasn't until the third stint that I was in some clean air and the pace of the car was very strong. I was pushing all the way and I knew it would be very close after the final stop with Grosjean and Hulkenberg. But the pit crew did a top job; they kept their nerve and we managed to stay ahead of both of them. If everything had gone to plan I'm sure we could have done an even better job, but it's good to pick up more points and to see our race pace right up there once again."
Adrian Sutil (DNF, Damage): "A very disappointing day for me. Things were going well in the opening laps and then under braking for the final hairpin I got hit from behind as I turned into the corner. I guess Gutierrez missed his braking point and had nowhere to go but into the back of my car. My rear wing was broken and there was no option but to stop. It's always a shame not to finish a race and I had a good chance of scoring more points today. I was on the soft tire and the strategy looked to be shaping up well."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "It's the first time we've scored points in China so it's good to get that monkey off our back and see Paul demonstrate the inherent pace of our car. He was boxed in the pack early on, but the strategy came back to us at the end of the race as Paul put in a fantastic third stint on the medium tires. We left it until the last couple of laps to fit the soft tires, but Paul had done enough in the clean air to keep Grosjean and Hulkenberg behind him. Credit should also go to the pit crew who were exceptional today with some very rapid stops, especially the final one. On the other side of the garage Adrian was the innocent victim of Gutierrez's mistake. There was nothing Adrian could have done to avoid it but it certainly cost us a good chance of getting two cars in the points."
Valtteri Bottas (13th): "The team did a good job with the strategy today and we made the most out of what we had. I think it was the best race I have done this season but we need to find more pace to get closer to the front. I knew it was going to be close with Pastor at the end, so I was pushing hard in my final stint on the medium tires. I was then right behind him on the faster option tires and so able to make a move on the penultimate lap. It was a nice end to the race but we still need to improve so we can race for points."
Pastor Maldonado (14th): "It was a difficult race from the beginning. We lost a lot of time on the option tires in the first stint and we just didn't have the pace. We didn't have a chance to fight for any higher positions and we know we are still far away from where we want to be, but we will keep our focus on improving."
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "We planned to do three stops with both cars today but decided to run one car on the option to start and one to finish, as our main race tire was the prime medium tire. We knew that both strategies, if the drivers weren't caught in traffic, would be very similar as seen by ours cars finishing just 1.6 seconds apart at the end. The option tires were much quicker at the end so Valtteri made a clean move to finish ahead. We got the maximum we could out of the FW35 today, but we know we still need to find more performance, and we will be focusing on this for the next few races."
Laurent Debout, Renault: "It's clear we were not where we would like to be today. Bahrain is a different type of track with lots of different speed corners that should play to the strengths of the Renault RS27 engine so we will work with the guys in Grove to get back to full form as soon as we can."
Daniel Ricciardo (7th): "I am really pleased to score my first points of the season and to confirm the qualifying performance. After yesterday afternoon I kept calm, knowing the real work would begin today. The last time I qualified this well was sixth in Bahrain last year and then I failed to score, so today, I really wanted to show people what I could do, so it's great for me to have had a great race but it's especially good for the team, who have worked so hard for this. Of course, the early pit stop to change the nose affected our plans and towards the end, Massa's Ferrari was looking bigger and bigger ahead of me! So yes, maybe I could have done even better, but for now I'll settle for this seventh place. From the start of the season, we have had many changes in terms of personnel and it takes a while for that to gel and this weekend, it felt like everything clicked into place, after the first two race weekends were a bit up and down, but now I expect us to continue getting stronger from here on."
Jean-Eric Vergne (12th): "I think Mark could not have got through from where he tried and I'm not even sure if he was trying to pass me. Certainly I didn't even know he was there. Unfortunately, the impact put me into a spin and the incident damaged my floor. From then I lost a lot of downforce. It was not a good race from then on, having lost a lot of time and having to drive a damaged car. It's not been a good weekend, as I did not have a smooth time of it from the start. However, as I said yesterday, the pace of the car has improved in the break since Malaysia, as could be seen from what Daniel was able to do today. Therefore I am now looking forward to Bahrain with a positive outlook."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "It was a very interesting race which saw Daniel Ricciardo start from seventh and take the checkered flag in the same position. This encouraging result was built on his good performance in yesterday's qualifying. Unfortunately, on lap 4, Daniel was involved in a collision with Rosberg and he had to pit earlier than planned as there was damage to the left front wing end plate. The pit crew did a good job, changing the nose and tires in 7.2 seconds, which is quite quick. From then on, he produced a very good race, with plenty of overtaking maneuvers. It was unfortunate that Jean-Eric Vergne was involved in an early collision with Webber's Red Bull, especially as it's a particular shame when this happens within the Red Bull "family." All weekend long, the car performed well, with the upgrades we brought here delivering the results we had hoped for and the team also did a good job. Today's points mean we move up to seventh in the Constructors' classification, 7 points behind the sixth placed team. Now there are just a few days until we race again in Bahrain and the plan is to keep this momentum going so that we can bring home more points before starting the European part of the season."
Charles Pic (16th): "For me that was a good race, almost as good as we could have hoped for with our current performance levels and run to a good race strategy. The car felt good right from the start – the setup we went for worked well and I had a decent start on the soft tires and came in just as they were starting to degrade heavily, came out ahead of Bianchi and for two thirds of the race I was pretty comfortably holding 15th place. Unfortunately on my third stop I came out in 16th and didn't quite have enough pace to fight so I finished in 16th, but the fact we were able to keep pace with the Marussia for the whole race and at some points be just out of reach of a Williams is very encouraging for the future. Now we go straight to Bahrain where we hope things will become interesting."
Giedo van der Garde (18th): "That really wasn't a good race for me. I had another very strong start, passing three cars, but almost from the moment the first set of softs started going off I couldn't find any real pace and was struggling for the whole race. After a good Friday it's been a pretty tough weekend for me, but I'm a very positive person and this is all part of the learning curve I knew I'd have for the early season races and I know I have the team on my side to help me progress. We have the chance straight away to get back to the sort of performance we want in Bahrain so we'll look at what we can learn from here and move on to the next race where I'm sure things will improve."
Jules Bianchi (15th): "I am very happy to finish in 15th place today, but it was a tough race and to be honest I was happy to see the checkered flag after quite a difficult final stint holding onto the tires. I got a good start and held position for quite a while before Pic was able to get ahead when we ran a slightly longer first stint. I spent the next two stints making up the time before retaking track position at the third round of pitstops. After that I was running with Maldonado and it was encouraging that I was able to maintain the gap to him for quite some time. Towards the end of the race though I had to focus on the tire management more while ensuring that I kept the gap to Pic behind me. Those final laps seemed to last for an eternity but we got the right result in the end. Overall it was an enjoyable race – certainly my most challenging yet – and I think we have all learned even more about the tires today. I think we have made another good step and it will be important to maintain this in Bahrain before we can then switch focus to what we will bring for Europe."
Max Chilton (17th): "Again, I think we have good reason to focus on the positives today as the race went well for me and the car felt good. I'm pleased that we end our time in China on a stronger note after a few challenges along the way. I didn't get the best start but things improved through the race and that was reflected in my lap time relative to Van Der Garde. So looking at what has been a good race and also the signs from Free Practice earlier in the weekend, it's all starting to come together I think. Importantly, we brought home another good combined result for the Team and demonstrated that we can understand and respond to issues quickly to achieve the right outcome. I hope that we will have an easier time of it in Bahrain so I can make another positive start to the weekend and then have the opportunity to maintain that momentum."
John Booth, Team Principal: "We predicted a challenging race today and it certainly did keep the engineers on their toes and the drivers very keenly focused on what they needed to do to look after the tires. Both Jules and Max did a great job to keep their heads down and drive very strong races, putting up a good fight with the cars around them when they needed to, whilst also keeping one eye on the big picture to ensure the right outcome. In the early part of the race we had to change our strategy slightly by extending our first stint and this allowed Caterham to get ahead when they stopped before us, but we made up that time over the course of the race and regained position. Overall, another good result for the Team and our third two car finish in as many races. The weekend has not been without its difficulties, particularly for Max, but all credit to him for maintaining his characteristically mature and positive demeanor throughout to help us overcome those problems and get ourselves back on track. A short gap before we do it all over again in Bahrain in just seven days' time, when I hope we will achieve an equally positive outcome but with a little less pain along the way."
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Britain||Mercedes GP||56||12.3s|
|4.||Sebastian Vettel||Germany||Red Bull-Renault||56||12.5s|
|7.||Daniel Ricciardo||Australia||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||56||42.6s|
|8.||Paul di Resta||Britain||Force India-Mercedes||56||51.0s|
|12.||Jean-Eric Vergne||France||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||56||1m12.6s|
|15.||Jules Bianchi||France||Marussia-Cosworth||55||1 Lap|
|16.||Charles Pic||France||Caterham-Renault||55||1 Lap|
|17.||Max Chilton||Britain||Marussia-Cosworth||55||1 Lap|
|18.||Giedo van der Garde||Netherlands||Caterham-Renault||55||1 Lap|
|DNF||Nico Rosberg||Germany||Mercedes GP||21||Suspension|
|DNF||Mark Webber||Australia||Red Bull-Renault||15||Wheel|
|DNF||Adrian Sutil||Germany||Force India-Mercedes||5||Damage|
Fastest lap: Vettel, 1m36.808s on Lap 53