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Chinese Grand Prix

Formula 1 season 2014

Circuit information
CircuitShanghai International Circuit
TimezoneGMT +08:00
Race debut2004
Length5.451 km
Distance305.066 km
Line offset0.190 km

Following the fantastic race in Bahrain, the Chinese Grand Prix had a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite deliver, as the Mercedes domination continued, and the fight was muted in the midfield. We saw a return to form for Ferrari, and yet more inter-team shenanigans at Red Bull. Felipe Massa also found himself at the rear of the field after a lengthy pit stop, resulting in a disappointing finish for the Brazilian.

Event overview

Qualifying in China was wet, the third of four Saturdays that have delivered damp conditions for our drivers. There had been little running in final practice, so the grip levels were low. Pastor Maldonado couldn’t take part in the session, having stopped out on track during FP3. The mechanics had removed the engine and located a sensor problem, uncovering an oil leak at the same time. The Venezuelan had already crashed in both the Friday sessions, and was facing a five place grid drop from a Bahrain incident. He was given permission to race despite not qualifying, but was at the rear of the field.

Lotus teammate, Romain Grosjean, put on a good show, qualifying in the top ten for the first time this year. There were no major surprises in the first session, with Esteban Gutiérrez the non-backmarker to drop out in Q1. In the second, neither McLaren driver had the pace to make the cut but it was more of a shock to see Kimi Räikkönen finishing in 11th, also missing out on a place in that final session.

The fight for pole was initially between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, with the latter setting the early benchmark. Nico Rosberg couldn’t match his teammate’s pace and then spun on his final lap to ruin any chance at pole position. Hamilton secured the top spot, with two Red Bulls behind him – Ricciardo ahead of Vettel – then Rosberg and Alonso picking up best of the rest position.

Sunday’s weather cleared up considerably, although it was still overcast on occasion. During the formation lap, Rosberg was informed the team weren’t getting telemetry from the car, and during the race he was asked to feedback numbers from the dashboard on the steering wheel to the pit wall. That is, until he said it was annoying him to keep doing it. Valtteri Bottas also had a telemetry issue on his Williams.

When the race started, Felipe Massa zipped forward off the line, found himself with nowhere to go so jinked to the left, only to bounce off Fernando Alonso’s tyre. Neither car was damaged. At the front, Hamilton retained his lead as Alonso moved forward away from Massa and got ahead of Ricciardo, who in turn had dropped back behind Vettel.

Meanwhile, Sutil had problems with his power unit, dropping to the back of the field and eventually retiring from the race. Romain Grosjean was the only other retirement, a disappointment for the team as he was running reasonably well in ninth before the gearbox gave out. Felipe Massa was a big casualty in the race, but managed to get to the end. The Williams driver came in for his first pit stop of the afternoon and was held up for almost a minute as the tyres stubbornly refused to behave. He rejoined right at the back of the pack.

Alonso managed to jump Vettel in the pit stops, moving into second place. He couldn’t get anywhere near Hamilton, however, as the Brit was storming ahead pulling out as much of a lead as possible, whilst still being relatively light on fuel. Rosberg moved passed Vettel, leaving the Red Bull driver in the clutches of his teammate. The German was warned over the radio that Daniel Ricciardo was faster and should be let through, to which Vettel responded “Tough luck.” After an explanation over their differing tyre strategies, he eventually conceded the position.

Vettel was in for yet more angst just a few laps later when Kamui Kobayashi, in the bright green Caterham, unlapped himself but failed to move ahead sufficiently, holding the Red Bull driver up. Eventually, he dived into the pit lane for his second stop of the day, removing himself from the awkward position.

On a fresh set of tyres, Rosberg easily dispatched Fernando Alonso for second place. The Ferrari driver faced a late charge from Daniel Ricciardo as well, but was able to hold off the Australian to finish third. Lewis Hamilton took a dominant victory, but was in some confusion at the end of the race.

As he crossed the line to start the final lap, he spotted the chequered flag, and queried it with the pit wall. The racing continued for that final tour of the circuit, but later, the FIA confirmed that the end-of-race signal had been shown one lap too early. The regulations state that if the chequered flag is waved too soon, the results have to be counted from the lap before the signal was shown. That meant a count-back to lap 54.

As it happened, only one driver was affected. Kamui Kobayashi had overtaken Jules Bianchi to be the lead driver in the backmarker battle, but that was lost once the countback took place.

Session timetable
DateDaySessionTimeLocal time
18 AprFridayFree Practice 103:00
GMT +01:00
GMT +08:00
Free Practice 207:00
GMT +01:00
GMT +08:00
19 AprSaturdayFree Practice 304:00
GMT +01:00
GMT +08:00
GMT +01:00
GMT +08:00
20 AprSundayGrand Prix08:00
GMT +01:00
GMT +08:00

All content in the series China 2014