Formula 1 China 2013


This race is bought to you by Pirelli tyres. Spicing up F1 races since 2012.

No really. If it wasn't for the Pirelli tyres, this race would have been extremely drab and boring. More accurately, it was the choice of tyre compounds that made the difference. Pirelli bought the Soft and the Medium compound tyre to China. Quickly it became clear that the Soft compound wouldn't last all that long, and it was a situation similar to that in Australia, where the Supersoft tyre also degraded quickly.

Hamilton leads Raikkonen

Qualifying was relatively smooth. Until Q3 began. Till the last 3 minutes, no one went out on track. Some didn't. No one wanted to race the race on the Softs as they would barely last a couple of laps on race day. In a thrilling couple of minutes, Alonso, Hamilton, and Raikkonen set blisteringly fast times, all within a second. Lewis got pole position though, by three tenths of a second. Impressive. Although the top 7 all set times, they were on the softer compound. Button, Vettel, and Hulkenberg elected to start on the more durable Medium compound. So they were many different strategies to be played out and many different setups. With the varied pace of the cars, sparks were going to fly. Jules Bianchi once again, outqualified his team-mate by a massive margin of 0.757 seconds.

Sparks did fly, right from the start. Due to a software glitch, Raikkonen selected an incorrect clutch map, and lost two places at the start. Alonso, had a perfect start, and along with Massa they were right on Hamilton's tail, and on lap 5, they both overtook him on the first corner. Webber ran out of fuel in Q2 and started from the pitlane. Then in the race, he collided with Jean Eric Vergne, and smashed his front wing. While pitting for a new wing, his right rear tyre wasn't bolted on properly and his wheel fell off. Too bad he was notified of the defect so he wasn't doing 300 kmph when it happened. Raikkonen damaged his front wing and nose after rear ending Sergio Perez when he tried to overtake him. Kimi went for gap that didn't exist, so it was quite silly. Still, with that awful looking nose, he finished second and managed to preserve his tyres. He lost 0.25 seconds a lap which would later cost him a chance to challenge Alonso for the win. Alonso was in a league of his own. A beautifully timed strategy and brilliant drive ensured him a win. Hulkenberg who started on the medium tyres, switched to the softer compound for his middle stint which meant that he destroyed those tyres as he was still carrying a lot of fuel. Button however only stopped twice(all other stopped thrice) and finished 5th. Impressive with a car which was well off the pace. Sebastian Vettel, this season's new bad boy, like button elected to run the softer tyres toward the end of the race. Vettel saved the softer compound tyres for the last 5 laps of the race, and he had his chance to really push his car. After he switched to the softer compound tyres, he closed a 13 second gap to third placed Hamilton to 0.2 seconds at the chequered flag. Hamilton, meanwhile was battling it out with Kimi throughout the race for 2nd position, and it was a great battle. When Sebastion Vettel came into play in the closing stages, tension ensued till the last lap, where Hamilton was also pushing to catch Kimi who was barely a second ahead of him. On the last lap, backmarkers came into play, adding an extra element in the 3 way battle. Probably the most exciting moment of the race which was pretty action packed. Sutil was rear ended by Esteban, and his rear wing broke and then his brakes caught fire. Rosberg decided to retire with a broken anti-roll bar. Lewis Hamilton finished the Korean GP in 2012 with a broken anti-roll bar. Daniel Ricciardo finished 7th, and there were already rumours of Webber retiring to Le Mans, and Ricciardo taking his seat, or Raikkonen retiring with a final 2014 season with Red Bull.

Drive of the day goes to Alonso for making a very difficult race look easy. Kimi also deserves a mention as he adapted to his damaged car and preserved his tyres while maintaining good pace. A damaged front wing causes imbalance, and with Lotus already suffering understeer and front end grip issues, Kimi handled it all beautifully to clinch 2nd place. Jules Bianchi, who I am now a big fan of, kept his nose clean and finished 15th.

There's no point in criticising Pirelli. They made racing more unpredictable and exciting. It's not the tyres which are to blame/praise for the exciting racing. It's the tyre selection that really mixes things up. That is the reason why toward the end of 2012, conservative tyre choices ensured boring races. I'm pretty sure everyone would like to see Jules Bianchi in a Marussia win rather than Vettel in his Red Bull. If the Pirelli tyres can make it happen, I don't see any reason for complaints.

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