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Chinese Grand Prix:

The Grid:

It was an interesting qualifying session as rain always make things more…unique. Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position with banker lap and sublime skill. One could argue that the win in Bahrain and Nico Rosberg’s cooked penultimate lap as well as his spin on the final lap of Q3 qualifying is a sign that the usually unflappable German is, in this case, feeling the pressure of a punishingly consistent Hamilton.

Lewis’s pole made him the new British record holder for pole positions and the 4th on the all-time list. Things were looking up for the champion as long as their dry weather setup for Sunday’s race proved to be effective given Saturday’s wet qualifying session.

The Lights:

Lights out

Another epic start for Felipe Massa in his Mercedes-powered Williams meant that the Brazilian was a moving target for a wheel-bash with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Amazing neither car was seriously damaged and continued the race unfazed. Massa’s teammate faced a similar situation with his good start touching wheels with Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg in a slightly more violent collision but as with his teammate, the Finn and German were able to continue the race.

The Race:

Lewis Hamilton scored his third win in a row—the first time that has happened in his career—and has now equaled the total of Jim Clark and Niki Lauda with 25 victories.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso said his podium finish of 3rd was a bit of a surprise but he wasted no time in dedicating that performance to erstwhile team boss Stefano Domenicali in what could be construed as a nice gesture or a narrative against the rash decision made by Ferrari to replace the affable Italian as team leader. Alonso said:

“Obviously this podium is dedicated to him in a way because probably all the parts from now until July or August are coming from the team working under Stefano, so hopefully we can give some great Sundays at home in front of the TV to Stefano.”

Fair enough. Point taken.

As for Force India, they lost second place in the Constructor’s Championship due to a 6th and 9th place finish for Nico hulkenberg and Sergio Perez respectively but the team still managed to perform well at a track that most likely wasn’t flattering their chassis.

Red Bull seemed to benefit from the wet weather in qualifying but also found pace in the dry. If intra-team battles are roosting at Mercedes between Hamilton and Rosberg, things could be heating up in Red Bull as Sebastian Vettel was, once again, asked to let his quicker teammate by. Vettel complied but not without some reluctance. Daniel Ricciardo has been getting the measure of his 4-time champion teammate since the season began and things may be starting to weigh on the German’s mind.

McLaren were positively throttled this weekend by the competition and it was a sad narrative on the current state of performance for a team who enjoyed such a promising start to the season with two podium finishes in Australia.

Win:

Win

The highlight of the race had to be the resurgence of Ferrari and Red Bull giving some hope that there will be someone to compete with Mercedes for the title. Red Bull’s pace certainly improved and so did Ferrari’s but was it the circuit that flattered the cars? Still, Mercedes was 13mph faster down the straights than both Ferrari and Red Bull and Lewis Hamilton was pulling over 1 second per lap on anyone else in the field.

Lewis’s drive was sublime and his race craft was completely managed and measured. He guarded the car with the right amount of mechanical sympathy and that always helps when you are in such a dominant car. You have time to stretch your legs, run in clean air and measure the performance needed to remain in front. Not to mention his new record as most Poles and 25 victories.

Fail:

Fail

All of those folks castigating F1 critics over the 2014 regulations were making hay in Bahrain but there was a muted silence from those Twitter accounts today as the race produced a rather pedestrian affair. The moral high ground was used to pummel naysayers two weeks ago but silence has been the better part of valor on Sunday in hopes that no one will notice the cars sounded lame and the racing was processional—nothing to see here folks. As we said two weeks ago, the first two races do not a season make and nor does the Bahrain Grand Prix. Time will tell and patience is needed.

Also in the fail category are those who berated Sebastian Vettel for being a marginally talented driver in what is clearly the best car on the grid and that his victories were somewhat hollow affairs given the clear, comprehensive domination of his Red Bull RB..whatever.

At some point this season, you’ll be asked to defend those words when Lewis Hamilton makes chopped liver from the entire field in a car that is twice as dominant as any Red Bull Sebastian ever had. I’m sure somehow things are different now though, right? Somehow this is a true testament to championship driving where Seb’s was just pure luck and a car that nearly drove itself. That old finger of blame always turns upon itself doesn’t it?

WTH?

WTH

The early flag was a real buzz kill as Kamui Kobayashi drove his heart out to put a terrific pass on Jules Bianchi for 17th place only to learn that the race had actually ended two laps ago. No one is asking for a Doctor of Flag-waving but good grief, can we not count to 56?

I was trying to figure out what Lewis was doing on the grid formation lap when he was literally crawling to the start line. I love the idea of getting time and ensuring that his car doesn’t sit on the grid for long while waiting for the Marussia’s to stage but that had to be dangerously close to testing Charlie Whiting’s patience and we know how that goes over these days.

David Hobbs’s tie. Enough said.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • That tie was pretty ridiculous, but then again so was Seb’s helmet. Not sure what theme he was going for there.

    • The helmet changes are getting out of control. It’s so hard to follow what is intended as a fan but I guess it’s really just for him. With 19 new helmets per year, he’ll need a new home just for his helmets.

      • jiji the cat

        The helmets share Helmets motorhome.

      • Maybe leaving all team helmets ‘the top of them, say 2inches around’ free of advertiements, would give us a clear view who is within. f1worldtour.com

        • jiji the cat

          i think the problem is helmet colour. It changes with every race.

  • Rapierman

    I’m a bit puzzled by the lack of laps as well. They say 54 when the World Feed clearly said 56. What the hell happened there?

    Okay, yeah, slightly processional, but you have to hand it to Rosberg battling Vettel for three turns before dropping him. That was a big highlight of the race.

    • UAN

      The chequered flag was shown a lap early to Hamilton (end of lap 55) then he went on to complete lap 56 as did all the other drivers – when he came across on lap 56 the chequered flag was waved again.

      But according to the regulations, if the flag to end the race is waved too soon, they count back to the last lap completed without the waved flag and that becomes the official end of the race. In this case it was lap 54 as the flag was waved at the end of lap 55.

      So on the world feed, they showed 56 laps as that was what was completed as the race unfolded, but after the race (or perhaps during the 56th lap?) Race Control would have made the ruling and the count back to what the positions were at the end of Lap 54.

      It all makes sense – Hamilton said he slowed when he saw it and lost 1 to 1.5 seconds. If this were Bahrain, for instance, Nico could easily have passed him and went on to win — that is if there wasn’t this rule in place. It’s design to prevent a mistake like this from altering the outcome of the race. I know some feel bad for Kamui who based Bianchi at the end, but that’s the difference between 17th and 18th, which is not really too significant, even for those teams in terms of the WCC.

      It was confusing to hear HAM’s talking about the flag as he started the last lap – at first I was wondering if he had a brain fade, being so far out in front – it’s been known to happen in other sports.

      • Rapierman

        It still doesn’t explain why the World Feed said “56 laps” when it clearly wasn’t.

        • rambaldi

          Because they and everyone else thought it was a 56 lap race until told those last 2 didn’t count.

          The regs make sense when you consider massive on track incidents (i.e. Nelson Piquet, Jr. in 2009, although I don’t know the full details of that incident) where the race has run long enough that you don’t want to stop it temporarily (as with that very wet Canada) and you want to stop it immediately, showing the chequered flag to those across the line first. The race results though usually need to be those from before the incident occurred, hence the count back.

  • Brody

    Good day for Lewis fans…..first 3 time winner of the Chinese GP, and the first hat trick of wins for Hamilton, in his F1 career.

  • gsprings

    F1 is not a spec series,so it’s going to be like this sometimes,the so called boring races……

  • For those whom observe, a Happy Easter to you. Families… why alcohol was created :D

    In isolation a fine or par race, not an edge of seat affair like Bahrain. It’s more intriguing for its portensions on speed hierarchy, development, and personnel dynamics than the on track battles; whether that’s bad or good depends on how one sees F1.

    The DRS zones were too long; drivers knew to hold back and blast others down the straights rather than late-brake in Turns 10-11-14; this was IMO the big Shanghai disappointment.

    Dry conditions, mixture of med/high speed corners w/ long-time lateral loading and big straights, this race was a good predictor of car performance:

    -Mercedes has about 1 second on RBR (Nico and Ric fastest laps on L39, racing for position, similar deg). Ferrari at this track about 3-tenths behind the RBR in long run, but in a rear-limited track I’d think more.

    -As hinted, Mclaren’s flyaway-spec chassis is uncompetitive

    -Improved ERS-to-ICE integration showed w/ RBR and especially Ferrari w/ minimal updates. Speaks well for the development season, as relatively few aero upgrades. It’s all in the software, not raw ICE power as many contend.
    *Has Ferrari’s ERS refinement moved it ahead of the Renaults? Still some massive wheelspin, even out of T16 for Alonso/Kimi.

    -The Ferrari still looks poor, washing out its front and changing balance in T1. Great job by Alonso.

    Other Thoughts:

    -The dominant drivers are establishing themselves in intrateam pecking orders
    *Alonso is destroying Raikkonen. There are caveats, bad luck leading to reduced run time for Kimi, but ultimately, Alonso’s displaying once again his well-roundedness.
    *Lewis managing the gap rather than being impatient at the front quite impressive from him Nico has pace, but has Ham beat him psychologically already?
    *Don’t think Ricc is “better” than Vettel per se, but he’s adapted more quickly; kudos.
    *Hulk as normal, but Perez a surpisingly-nice complement.

    -RBR will need to break Merc’s pole record, force Merc into higher energy consumption as it chases the RBR through the corners; if not, the Silver Arrows ERS advantage and resultant averaged power and fuel efficiency will be impossible to overcome as they cruise at the front.

    -Williams still can’t put a complete session together. They’re neck and neck w/ Ferrari/FI as 3rd best, but can’t translate into results. It really is a team sport.

    -For those chastising Vettel/RBR on team orders, I think they handled it perfectly. Ricc has earned his right to team orders. The team had a right to give them. And Vettel had a right to try fighting them as they were on the same strategy. Not pretty, but no fault can be assessed here. Ricciardo didn’t wouldn’t have caught Alonso, and it was the Aussie’s fault he was behind Vettel in the 1st place. All fair play RBR (in this case).

    Really odd they had to remove Merc gearbox to fix a front suspension issue. FRIC?

    Todd, I agree w/ most all your points in this report; just wish you’d assert your observations based on their own merits, “I believe/I think” rather than needing to be “right” and thus feeling slighted with others’ views.

    You don’t need surveys/majorities for your opinions to have value, nor do you need to dismiss others’ views by poking fun at them, as:

    “…those folks castigating F1 critics over the 2014 regulations were making hay in Bahrain but there was a muted silence…today as the race produced a rather pedestrian affair. The moral high ground was used to pummel naysayers two weeks ago but silence has been the better part of valor…in hopes that no one will notice the cars sounded lame and the racing was processional—nothing to see here folks”

    I’ve seen many on F1B sharing, oftentimes getting into enthusiastic debates; it’s wonderful, as some times one side enlightens another, other times they agree to disagree. Most of the belittlement and castigation I see comes from your posts.

    You and I disagree on many points, how we each enjoy the sport, yet can rarely have a fun discussion on what we each value. You make it a battle of who’s right or wrong, rather than accepting the views as distinct-yet-equal, to be shared with energy and enthusiasm. It’s unfortunate.

    Perhaps asking a question to those w/ opposing views, and asserting your own, would make it seem less petty and poorly-argued; as public justification seems so important, I think you’d find more sway with something like:

    “I argued time will tell whether the 2014 regulations would add or detract from the racing. In Shanghai I feel it detracted. Those fans who used Bahrain as an example of how good F1 2014, what did you think of Shanghai? Is a processional race good or bad?”

    Just a suggestion; I enjoy reading your thoughts, at times find the tone petty, defensive, and unpalatable.

    • It’s most likely a personality issue, Jeff. Perhaps my kind of snark isn’t your cup of tea and that’s fine, I do understand that. If you look over the breadth of your posts, I think you’ll find plenty of personal observations, assumptions, accusations and sometimes quite biting comments you’ve made about me personally. I don’t believe I’ve returned the favor but somehow my Op Ed’s and commentary you find very personal. I write for the community, not one single individual.

      I’m not offended by that and I would hope you aren’t offended when I say that the 2014 regulation army used Bahrain to bludgeon those who aren’t that jazzed about the regulations. This included Niki Lauda, Paddy Lowe and a multitude of fans and emails that I get (which you don’t see). IF there is anyone heavy handed here, it may just be the “I told you so’s” after Bahrain. A season makes a season, not two boring races, one exciting race etc. time will tell and I am calling for patience before claiming it good or bad. I think I’m taking a measured, middle ground approach on this and not drawing sides with either camp.

      There is a level of snark here and that’s just our particular idiom (used loosely) but it will not be to everyone’s liking and that’s perfectly fine. There are other F1 blogs that will appeal to every flavor of fan but ours is lucky enough to have many on staff with differing views. MIE doesn’t have an issue with the sound and neither does Paul, I do and so does Adam. You get the point. I think JP does a really good job of inviting opinion and sharing both angles so his work might really appeal to you while mine may not. Perfectly ok and that’s why we have the staff we do…variety. :) As always, I enjoy your posts and appreciate your sharing your opinion even if it does differ from mine, that’s wonderful and that’s what we’re all about. I wouldn’t want you to be singled out or personally attacked by anyone here, especially me. You’re a great part of our community of diverse views of this terrific sport.

    • (Race-relevant commentary in last paragraph; rest is dialogue)

      Fair enough Todd. Like mentioned, I too enjoy reading your posts.

      I don’t think you’re attacking me at all, it’s more a general group I feel, and that irks me. I stop frequenting certain sites because I tire of the juvenile bull. You’re posts are definitely NOT like that, it’s just I know some types who’d want to share (whichever side of an issue), but are dissuaded by what they feel is marginalization, so when I see that on an otherwise great site by a great poster or creator, I feel compelled to confront the issue.

      You’re right, I mentioned about your viewing perceptions, which I regret still; crap form by me. My other criticisms have been about this perceived issue, and one I don’t regret. I guess that’s my unsolicited advice; if something bothers you, state it unapologetically, as your opinion, rather than masking it with snark. The latter forgoes a stance for IMO attempted-swaying of/association with a group. If one has a conviction, show it, rather than debase others to prove a point.

      I’ve gotten a better handle on your humor, which is why I brought it up rather than let it go; no skin off my back, as I know you’re not INTENDING the exclusion.

      It’s harder reading tone over the inter webs anyway. Beers and micheladas in Austin/Canada will settle all out, I’m sure :D

      RACE:

      -Can anyone define if/why Mclaren’s trending downwards? Loss of sponsorship, for many reasons a slow car/poor development, questionable driver performances, split strategies, rotating staff; it all seems as if Mclaren’s lost focus. For those who are Macca fans, is the trend a blip or real, and have some forecast it?

      -Although I don’t rate Vettel as highly on pure speed as Hamilton (but higher on race intelligence), agree there’s perception-inequity between the two. Both are great-enough drivers, both have a personal duty to get in the best car as possible to reward their talents. Excellence reaps excellence; why make excuses just because one appeals more/less personality-wise?

      Congrats Porsche Motorsport and 919 @ Silverstone! Lucky, but a podium’s a podium. I know… wrong motorsport.

      • Completely, tone and nuance can really be missing in text. I try to add some flavor and nuance to get that across but often fall far short of being effective. One thing I hope you do know is that we welcome all views. If there are F1B members who are really excited about the changes in 2014, that’s great! It really is. The jury is still out for me but I would hope most folks at F1B know that this is a safe harbor and while I get cheeky in posts etc, that’s just my voice. Sharing opinion is very important to me and I will always try hard to never make a personal attack even when I disagree. Disagreeing is perfectly fine here. You disagree with me and that’s completely awesome. Just want to make sure your comments aren’t suggesting that opinion isn’t welcome because it most surely is. I may be a bit boorish or bull-headed in my posts but I think people know me and know that I’m just being snarky. :)

    • Tim C

      I enjoy the comments that everyone posts here, that’s one of the reason’s I visit and post at F1B. Just one request . . . if there are serious differences of opinion the could be viewed as personal attacks, please take those offline for discussion. I enjoy healthy debate, but a critique of how someone says something is not really that appealing.

      • That’s my fault; I’d asked about private contact in a post and gotten no response, and didn’t bother figuring out it’s under the “About” section until now. My apologies.

        Reading dirty laundry and moaning sucks; F1 is much cooler than that. Go Chilton! (kidding)

  • Negative Camber,

    Going by Grace recommendation on the last podcast to watch the race on Univision TV, since Spanish is my primary language I decided to give it a try. First, the race coverage is non stop from green lights to podium interviews just like SkyF1 does, except that in a few times of the race the race picture shirks to 3/4 of the size and AutoZone logo shows up on the bottom and the commentator says that ” this non-stop coverage of F1 is brought to you by AutoZone”. That’s it. Which is way better that the ad fest at NBC sports and the little PIP of the race. The only downside of the coverage are commentator themselves, even though I don’t like Hobbs, Matchett and Diffey at NBCS, at Univison they have Milka Duno, famous for her short IndyCar career, or as I called her “Milka Chocolate”. Just like her driving, her comments during the race where erroneous and pointless. But I do like the non-stop coverage, which my solution is to listen the the SkyF1 audio while watching the Univision feed. Thanks Grace for the recommendation and letting me know about Univision broadcast

    • Very interesting Juan. I don’t speak Spanish and I was wondering who they had calling the races. Milka seems a bit of an odd choice but then her nationality makes sense and her appeal to that market. Who are the other members of the team and are they really knowledgable of F1? Do they add some keen insight like Sky Sport F1 does etc?

      • To tell you the truth, there were two other guys with Milka, oddly one didn’t speak much, the other pretty much spent the time talking with Milka and calling the race as it happened. There was some talk about F1 technology, but they were pretty much quoting SkyF1 reports.

        • Interesting. I would love to hear about other broadcasts around the world and the level of detail, who is really good with insight etc. Thanks for letting us know. Milka Chocolate…;)

  • dude

    I think Ricciardo could have made the podium if it wasn’t for being held by the race’s donkey.

    • I wonder if he would have, too. I don’t recall the delta but at one point, wasn’t he closing in of Alonso at around 6 tenths per lap? Had Vettel moved when told, it may have been a different story.

    • He will sooner or later win a race, he is a serious driver that’s for sure, I’m watching his space, f1worldtour.com

    • PM

      He nay have caught alonso but I think the red bull lacked straight line speed to pass the ferrari

  • Some thoughts:

    1) I didn’t think it was a boring race. Sure, Lewis ran away with it once again, and this time Nico was in enough trouble not to challenge him and by the midpoint of the race, there wasn’t anything going on in the upper half of the field anymore in terms of wheel to wheel action, other than Nico fighting his way through the field. But there was still a lot of stuff captivating me, like the battle for third place that ultimately didn’t turn into wheel to wheel action, but it was still fascinating to watch it unfold. Or Nico Hülkenberg chasing Sebastian Vettel.

    2) Speaking of Vettel, in China he was truly outpaced by Ricciardo. And while Marko once again said something along the lines of Vettel having problems with his engine mapping, I think that he might really need some more time to adapt to this years car. That’s also what Niki Lauda figured when he said that Vettel had mastered the blown diffusor and now he has to adjust his driving style while Ricciardo never had the luxury of driving a car like the Red Bull and hence never needed to adapt his style to the blown diffusor in the past.
    It seemed as if Vettel didn’t get his tires to work, which is similar to what Kimi was experiencing. Maybe it also has to do with the cooler temperatures? That’s at least what Ferrari figured regarding Kimi. One more reasons to look forward to Bacelona. Assuming that Red Bull will have a trouble free weekend, the relative performance of Vettel and Ricciardo should give us a much better idea about this team in 2014, as Barcelona is a rather representative track of F1 as a whole.

    3) Furthermore, I found it really interesting to see both Renault and Ferrari improving once again. Maybe if it hadn’t been for the problems at Williams, they could have been up there, but other than that, the Mercedes customer cars don’t seem to have an advantage over Ferrari and Renault anymore. The Renault teams have indeed all done rather well, even Lotus was finally up there…until the gearbox refused to do its job.

    4) Rather shocking was McLaren’s performance. After all the talk about their new chassis for China, I had them down as Red Bull’s #1 competitor for the last podium spot. But once again they were the worst Mercedes team, not being able to gather any points. What is wrong there? McLaren shifted their focus on the 2014 car very early after the disastrous 2013 season, and yet, with all their talent and funds and with a Mercedes engine to boot, they still couldn’t figure out how to build a competitive car. That’s scary…could we see another decline à la Williams after their dominance during the 1990s?

    5) On the other side, there’s the surprise performance of Ferrari…or rather Alonso. What a result after the Bahrain disaster. Also, Hülkenberg once again with a quiet, yet brilliant performance. Chapeau.

    • 4. Were there rumors of a new Mclaren chassis, and did it materialize? I hadn’t seen it. If so, and they still stunk it up in China, Yikes!

      Won’t bother w/ technical details as it’s all conjecture anyway, but it’s rumored the car is a “kit bash” of sorts, suspension department working its concepts, aero its, and so on, and that Mclaren’s operated in this fashion for several years. Has anyone read the same? Seems awfully compartmentalized if true.

      I remember hearing of new side pods from the M. Priestley article and Scarbs, but that’s it, and even those failed to materialize. I saw a few front wing tweaks and more rear wing angle, but that’s it.

      I still question the rear suspension setup. Pushing the trailing wishbone arm that far back and angling it relative to the ground has to hurt mechanical grip. The rumors point to the mushroom/parachutes adding low speed aero grip, but to my aero-dumb mind seem a brute force approach to a delicate systemic issue.

      Perhaps Spain will bring a true B-spec car, new radiator packaging, all new bodywork, maybeeven a new chassis w/ revised rear geometry. Like Ferrari, a competitive Mclaren is a good thing, if only to keep the British press invested.

      • Yeah, there were talks about an updated chassis at McLaren which should have brought better airflow both internally and externally, like for instance by this former McLaren employee who apparently still has close ties and who now has a YouTube F1 channel:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuOKa_VvoIQ

        On the other hand, his main point is the single log exhaust manifold Mercedes has and which gives their teams a significant packaging advantage which the customers didn’t know about. Scarbs however tweeted that while the customer teams didn’t see the exhaust until late in the game, they had the specifications by December of 2013, which should have given them ample time to adjust to. So who really knows.

        On a different note, I forgot to add another point:

        5) Niki Lada driver coach: According to the German TV commentators, Niki really is taking care of Lewis, i.e. in order for Lewis to concentrate on what matters, he ordered him to leave his dogs and most of his entourage at home. And it seems to work: “Lewis, this is Bull****, dogs and rappers don’t belong at the race track!”
        Speaking of Niki, he also did make fun of Christian Horner on German TV after Horner once again said that Mercedes’ advantage was due to their engine. Niki said that if that’s really what Christian thinks, then he’s quite happy because while they do have a PU advantage, there’s a lot more to their success which the others will miss as long as they only focus on the engine.

        Also, regarding #2, I just ran across an interesting article on AMuS, laying out where Vettel loses time on Ricciardo and why that is so. Apparently, Vettel is really good in slow and medium corners provided there are no hard breaking maneuvers. There, he constantly takes tenths out of Ricciardo’s lap times. On the other hand, he loses all that and more under hard breaking. Asked about it, Vettel said that he doesn’t feel comfortable in the car and doesn’t trust it to act consistently. It’s down to the new PU and how it harvests energy under breaking and similarly, how it releases energy under acceleration. Vettel says he doesn’t have a feel for it yet, that he breaks early because of that and that this totally messes up his cornering. He also doesn’t have a feel for how much torque is released by pushing the throttle which hurts him going out of corners. He says that the power he wants released isn’t always there. So Marko is right when he says that a lot is down to engine mapping. But it’s not that Vettel suffers from problems where Ricciardo doesn’t, it’s that Vettel’s driving style doesn’t fit with the current setup, turning Vettel from someone who was extremely soft on tires in 2013 to someone who eats them up in 2014. Again, the similarities to Kimi’s situation are striking. I think they both suffer from similar problems. At the same time, these two drivers are extremely talented, so I think they’ll adapt eventually, still, a lot of work needs to go into engine mapping as well, in order to iron out the kinks, both at Ferrari and Red Bull. This is probably an area where Mercedes and their customers have a big advantage thanks to the massive amount of testing miles they could amass compared to Ferrari and Renault. While Renault was in emergency mode, introducing stop gap measures to get their cars to run at all, Mercedes could fine tune their engine, something the others now have to do under race conditions.

        • I’d seen the Priestley report here on F1B, thanks; commented on the bodywork mods in NC’s race report. If there were rumors of a new Mclaren chassis, they obviously didn’t come true; photos show the same bodywork and as far as I can determine the same radiator packaging. Yes, both FI and Williams brought new bodywork to take advantage of the compact exhaust solution to Shanghai; surprising Mclaren didn’t, particularly as Mr. Priestley forecast it.

          I wish I read German; both Autobild and AMuS articles seem quite in depth, yet much is lost in translation. At the very least, native speakers appear more forthcoming in interviews. In Spanish and Italian media, Alonso is much more expressive than in English (although my Italian is shoddy.)

          Good insight re: Vettel in braking zones; hadn’t noticed it. I recall some pundits saying Vettel’s advantage over Webber was slow corners, where he’d late-brake and square the corner off, trusting the rear grip to keep the rear settled in contrast to Webber’s highest minimum speed/long line approach, it makes sense.

          • Didn’t look like a new McLaren chassis to me either. Since Priestly was told that it was coming, my guess would be that either it was a massive update that needed a new crash test and failed, or it simply didn’t give McLaren the numbers they were hoping for. Either way, it spells bad news for the team.

            The team once again appears to be stagnating. While the rest of the field gets to grips with the new formula and improves as the season unfolds, McLaren fall back.