With the Chinese Grand Prix, the F1 fraternity moves to the vibrant financial hub of China, Shanghai for the third race in the 2013 calendar. After a three week break, teams head over Shanghai with fresh updates intended to give them an edge over their rivals. Even though it’s been three weeks, the spat over at Red Bull seems to have blown over. Though Sebastian Vettel seems to be singing a different tune now than he was three weeks ago in Sepang, it will be interesting to see how this pans out over the weekend if he gets locked in battle again with his veteran team mate Mark Webber.
The Red Bull saga : Vettel says he will disregard team orders again if needed
Sebastian Vettel today struck a defiant tone by stating that he would disobey team orders again if he was asked to stay behind his team mate.
The reason being that he felt that Webber did not deserve to win. These words are spoken by a man who seems determined to win at all costs and is a far cry from the cherubic, humorous youngster of yesteryear. Vettel left no doubts that there was no love lost between himself and Webber. He maintained that since Webber was not very accommodating to his World Championship plans last year, he saw no reason in supporting him. The triple world champion has a fair point, but one wonders if he should have had this discussion within close doors with his team before Malaysia rather than choosing to disobey them later. Webber chose to shrug off Vettel’s statement and I can surely predict a bitter battle between these two over the course of this season.
McLaren hope for improvement
McLaren have had what seasoned F1 observers would call a slightly familiar start to their 2013 campaign – on the backfoot. The team has traditionally started off badly and gotten steadily better as the season progressed. They would surely be bringing development updates to each race and would have had time to analyze the car’s problems over the past three weeks. Jenson Button was doing pretty well in Sepang until that botched pitstop ruined his chances so things might be looking good for him this weekend. It would also depend on how well the other teams have progressed and how their updates will be working as well.
Alonso happy for Massa’s resurgence
Fernando Alonso would have definitely taken note of Felipe Massa’s recent run of good form. The Brazilian has out qualified his hard charging team mate for the past four races ( harking back to the end 2012) and if he repeats the feat this week, it will be the first time in history that a team mate has managed to out-qualify Alonso five times in a row. Alonso, though he claimed to be happy for Massa’s form, would be wary of the threat as well. He has not reacted well to team mates outgunning him on the race track as we saw in 2007 at McLaren. But Ferrari are a team with a clear number one: Alonso. So how will the team tackle Massa’s resurgence?
Mercedes – Dark Horses yet again
Mercedes had a fantastic Chinese Grand Prix in 2012. Nico Rosberg took the team’s first pole and win (his first too) since 1955 and if Michael Schumacher had not retired due to bad luck, the team might even have had a 1-2. However, with the pace of the Red Bulls this weekend, Mercedes aren’t very confident of repeating their 2012 performance. Rosberg was confident of being in the hunt, and the temperatures are likely to suit the Mercedes as well. The team have made good progress this season were actually keeping tabs on the Red Bulls in Sepang. So a potential podium cannot be ruled out.
Ma Qing Hua – The first Chinese driver to take part in his home race:
Ma Qing Hua will become the first Chinese driver to take part in his home grand prix weekend when he drives in FP1 tomorrow. According to autosport, He will be replacing Caterham driver Charles Pic for the session, but will not be taking part in the race.
The Chinese Grand Prix will be an interesting one in terms of tyre wear and race strategy as is slowly starting to be the case with these Pirelli tyres. Fernando Alonso even stated that qualifying is no longer relevant because of the tyres. Kimi Raikkonen demonstrated this when he won the race from back in the third row. The cooler temperatures of Shanghai will make the tyres behave differently as well. Some teams will struggle to get heat into their tyres whereas some, like say Mercedes, would find the temperature ideally suited for their tyres. With tyre degradation being crucial this year, one cannot predict outcomes this weekend. But to state that there will be tonnes of action is a statement that will not go unwarranted.