Formula 1 News

On-song or gone-wrong? – Chinese Grand Prix

The ugly side of the DRS was on display in China alongside Webber’s woes. Ricciardo and Button shared better fortunes.
Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15th, 2013 (F1plus/J Polychronis).- On-song or gone-wrong? Is a segment provided after the completion of each race weekend. It is predominately dedicated to assess the surprise performances within the field, whether it be for the better or worse. This time around we almost had two Toro Rosso in the same page, given their excellent race pace, but one of them (Vergne) had a small incident that thwarted the possibilities of a stronger finish.  Of Course, sad stories are always present with the Australian driver of Red Bull racing in the centre of it while some comfort was felt on those following McLaren and its number one driver.  

Mark Webber: Gone wrong

Essentially everything that could have possibly gone wrong for Mark Webber in China did. The Australian’s weekend was nothing short of a catastrophe.

The weekend of woe for Webber commenced during qualifying on Saturday. He was an omission for Q3, languishing in a qualifying position of 14th. What compounded the qualifying disappointment for Webber was being unable to supply a one-litre fuel sample upon the session’s completion. This calamity forced him to commence Sunday’s race from pit lane.

Saturday’s events was simply a prelude to the frustrations which occurred on race day. After beginning the race strongly by moving through the field, Webber’s charge was impeded after a collision with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne. Vergne left a small opening, which the Aussie attempted to utilise in an overtaking manoeuvre. This move was proven to be overly ambitious, and resulted in a collision. Despite pitting, most of the damage created was unrepairable. As Webber limped back to the pits, his left-rear tyre fell off in a comedic fashion.  

Furthermore, the consequences of a disastrous weekend, for Webber, are not limited to Shanghai either. The Red Bull driver is facing a three grid-spot penalty in Bahrain for causing a collision.

Daniel Ricciardo: On-song

Before the race weekend, F1plus reported on pressures for Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian was evaluated as facing extreme pressure to out-perform his team-mate, and to fight for a seat at Red Bull Racing. A strong performance was required, and that’s what was delivered in China.

Ricciardo was out-standing in qualifying and the race where he finished in 7th for both. This is now his best finish in a Formula One race which displays a clear sign of improvement. This was obviously something which Ricciardo was pleased with, speaking after the race:

“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."

It was an impressive performance and one which stamped Ricciardo’s authority within the team. Jean-Eric Vergne finished the race in 12th, moving up three places from his grid position. Although Vergne out-scored Ricciardo in points last season, it seems to be only the latter which has provided news-worthy results in the past.

Drag Reduction System (DRS): Gone-wrong

The Drag Reduction System has been a topic of debate in recent years. Ideally, the system is designed to create exciting racing by giving the trailing car an advantage to attempt an over-taking manoeuvre. The Chinese Grand Prix however, did not exhibit the ideal result of the DRS. In fact it highlighted a major drawback in the technical innovation. Quite simply, there was no exciting racing in Shanghai because the DRS failed to deliver.

There was a severe lack of wheel-to-wheel racing. Those who acquired accessibility to the DRS in China, simply breezed past their opponents on the straight, assumed the racing line, then completed the corner as per usual. DRS activists often cite the ease of over-taking and the unjust reward as reasons why the system should be scrapped. The Chinese Grand Prix was a major source of evidence to those anti-DRS. Over-taking was simple, and worst of all, it was boring. The race was certainly a low point in the short history of DRS.  

Jenson Button: On-song

Compared to the first two races of the season, Jenson Button’s 5th place finish was a surprise. Button placed in 9th position in Australia and then 17th in Malaysia in what has been an abysmal start to the season for McLaren Mercedes. Although it’s certain that McLaren will not be content with anything outside of the podium, China was one step in the right direction.

It’s far from all smiles though at McLaren, Sergio Perez was incapable of claiming a points finish. This is what makes Button’s performance more impressive, perhaps. The only thing that could have made his start of season worse would have been trailing a fresh-faced new arrival. Although, this does not appear to be an immediate threat to Button. Considering the improvement in China, perhaps the Briton’s name will become more prominent in future races. 

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