It's been quiet on the rankings front this past week, the technological difficulties in China mean social networks have been used slightly less than normal. There was still time for some video insight, including a sweet little message from Esteban Gutiérrez and some odd but fun singing from Nico Rosberg. There was also a lot of cake in China, but I opted to hand out points for the champagne instead.
Lewis Hamilton turned his pole position into a dominant victory, leading the way with a comfortable gap to the rest of the field and crossing the line 18 seconds clear by the time the chequered flag dropped. Speaking of which, the flag was waved a lap too soon, meaning the FIA had to count back the finish two laps earlier, but only one position changed at the rear of the field.
It's that time once again, your chance to deliver the verdict on the race just gone. This time, the Chinese Grand Prix stands up for scrutiny, after what was an interesting, if not classic weekend. Coming straight after what was a surprisingly good Bahrain race, China had its work cut out for it. The race was the final one before a brief rest and then return to Europe for the next leg of the season, but did it tide us over nicely? Cast your vote now.
Mercedes have extended their lead to almost 100 points now, with the fight for second place very tight. Red Bull have jumped Force India for second now, but there are only five points separating 2nd to 4th. The gap to McLaren is sizeable as the Woking team continue to try and catch up. Williams are likely to be disappointed they couldn't increase their points haul by a big margin this weekend, but they're still so far ahead of where they were this time last year, that it's really nothing to be sad about.
The FIA's new World Endurance Championship kicks off at Silverstone, with plenty of famous names and faces getting back in their cars, or trying the sport anew. Mark Webber is one of the key figures for this first race, as Porsche make their big comeback and the Australian driver makes his post-F1 racing debut. We'll also get to see how Audi get on without Allan McNish, and cheer on little Anthony Davidson, and perhaps even Lucas di Grassis. Six hours of racing awaits, so sit down, grab a glass, and enjoy!
Nico Rosberg keeps a tenuous lead on the championship, as he finished on the podium but came second to Lewis Hamilton. The difference is down to just four points. Meanwhile, the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso catches up and moves into third. McLaren's difficult day sees them lose places, whilst Sebastian Vettel moves up to fifth. Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas sit on equal points.
Lewis Hamilton didn't put a foot wrong during the Chinese Grand Prix, except for one tiny little off, that saw him turn pole position into his third consecutive race victory. Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso had a good race with a podium result, after a collision with Felipe Massa at the first corner. The Williams driver suffered a hefty pit lane problem as well, which pushed him down the order.
The Chinese Grand Prix was never going to deliver the same as Bahrain did, but after a wet qualifying, race day dawned dry and overcast. Mercedes had the upper hand, as they have done so far this season, but there were battles up and down the field to keep us entertained as the laps unfolded.
The battle between Mercedes and Red Bull continues to rage, as they secured the top four grid slots. Behind them, Williams impressed with their wet condition performance, whilst Nico Hülkenberg scraped into the top ten. Romain Grosjean has all of the Lotus hopes in his hands, starting tenth, with Pastor Maldonado all the way at the rear of the field. After the last race in Bahrain delivered an absolute storming afternoon of action, we're expecting great things from China. Hopefully, the Shanghai International Circuit can deliver.
Pastor Maldonado failed to set a lap time during qualifying due to a problem with the power unit in his Lotus. The stewards have given him permission to start the race, leaving him last on the grid. On the one hand, that's bad news for the Venezuelan, but on the other hand, it counter-acts the penalty handed to him in Bahrain.
Qualifying in China began with the news that Pastor Maldonado wouldn’t be taking part. The Lotus driver had stopped during final practice with a sensor issue and engine leak, and it wasn’t fixed in time for him to qualify. That left Gutiérrez as the other driver dropping out along with the four regular backmarker drivers in the first session.
Lewis Hamilton was almost untouchable throughout the entire qualifying session but the same cannot be said for his Mercedes teammate. Nico Rosberg ended up fourth fastest, after spinning on his final flying lap, and allowing both the Red Bull drivers ahead of him.
Three out of the four qualifying sessions we've seen so far this year have been wet, with Shanghai delivering a damp Saturday. The choice was between intermediate and wet tyres throughout, with no sign of anyone breaking out the slicks. Pastor Maldonado's struggles carried over from Friday to Saturday, but the rest of the field ran unhindered.
Mercedes still have the edge, clearly, but we saw a chink in the armour as practice didn't go all their way. Hamilton had some reliability trouble, and other drivers showed good pace too. Meanwhile, Maldonado has had a pretty shocking time in China so far, and needs a good qualifying result to prove that he does deserve his seat in F1, when so many others think perhaps he doesn't. With rain in the air, let's hope for a great qualifying session to decide pole position!
The wet conditions saw Daniel Ricciardo go fastest, as many drivers opted to reduce their running - saving tyres and reliability for qualifying. For Pastor Maldonado, the weekend of horror continued. He kept clear of the walls this time, but stopped out on track with a sensor problem. Jean-Éric Vergne also had a problem, complaining of an engine problem.
Pastor Maldonado had a very difficult Friday at the Shanghai International Circuit, spinning off track in both practice sessions, and ending his day with the Lotus car embedded in the wall at the pit entry. Or, as trackside operations boss Alan Permane put it, he “had a little mishap.” In the first session, he ran wide off track during the outlap as he was adjusting something on the steering wheel.
Pastor Maldonado continued his poor form in the second practice session in Shanghai, with a wobble off track, a significant lock-up on both front tyres, and then a crash in the pit lane. He ended up in the wall at the pit lane entry, ending his session early.
On a drizzly day in Shanghai, Fernando Alonso posted the fastest lap time to impress the new Ferrari team principal. He was challenged all the way by Mercedes, although only Nico Rosberg saw the end of the session, as Lewis Hamilton's running was cut short by a suspension problem.
Three practice sessions await our drivers in Shanghai, with rain scheduled for most of them. Red Bull are trying to move on from their fuel sensor disappointment, Mercedes are managing their domination. Williams and Force India want to capitalise on their engine supremacy and get the most from these early races. Ferrari will be dealing with the fallout from Stefano Domenicali's departure, whilst Lotus are still floundering. Caterham and Marussia want to beat each other. Sauber and Toro Rosso want desperately not to be the last of the competitive teams. Practice is where the fun starts, so stay tuned!
Formula One this year is the Hamilton versus Rosberg show, and whilst the Mercedes domination is a concern, we've got a heck of a battle between these two stars. Their teammate track fight in Bahrain captivated F1 fans across the globe and was the icing on what was already a brilliant race cake. Now it's up to China to continue that trend and deliver something even better. No pressure!