Chinese Grand Prix 2013 in Shanghai Preview

by SteveRogerson

After a three-week break, Formula One racing resumes for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on Sunday 14 April 2013.

The row at Red Bull after Sebastian Vettel disobeyed team orders to win the Malaysian Grand Prix is still the major talking point as the Formula One racing teams prepare for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on Sunday 14 April 2013.
McLaren will be hoping for a better performance after their drivers struggled with the new design in the opening two races. And Ferrari and Mercedes will both be looking to build on a satisfactory start to the season.

Looking guilty: Did Sebastian Vettel deserve the champagne in Malaysia?
Looking guilty: Did Sebastian Vettel deserve the champagne in Malaysia?
Photo from Mercedes

Many Formula One racing fans, including supporters of Red Bull, believe world champion Sebastian Vettel should not be taking part in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on Sunday 14 April 2013. His behaviour in Malaysia in ignoring team orders and overtaking his team mate Mark Webber (who had turned his engine down following the team orders) to win the Malaysian Grand Prix was disgraceful by anybody’s standards. That his Red Bull team have failed to issue any punishment at all has angered many in Formula One.

Many felt that a one-race suspension would be fair, and some thought that even worse was deserved. But the slap on the wrist, which is all he got, brings into serious doubt the role of management at Red Bull. Is it the driver rather the bosses now pulling the strings?

The row has overshadowed the fact that it was a Red Bull one-two in Sepang, elevating them to the top of the constructors championship and Vettel to the top of the drivers championship.

Compare, though, Vettel’s behaviour with that of Nico Rosberg at Mercedes. He too was clearly frustrated at having to follow his team mate Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages when he knew he had the power to overtake. But team orders were issued and Rosberg obeyed. Hamilton was suitably sheepish about his podium place in the pre-race interviews. Vettel should take a lesson from Rosberg in how to behave when you are part of a team.

Felipe Massa had a creditable fifth for Ferrari and the Lotus pair of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Räikkönen took the next two places followed by Nico Hulkenberg scoring his first points for Sauber. Toro Rosso also got their first point of the season when Jean-Eric Vergne came in tenth.

Though Malaysia was another bad day for a struggling McLaren team, with Sergio Perez finishing ninth and Jenson Button not finishing at all, there were signs of improved performance and Button would probably have finished in the top five if not for a disastrous pit stop. The team’s engineers have used the three-week break to work on the car and the noises coming from the drivers suggest that we may see a revitalised McLaren in Shanghai.


Chinese Grand Prix

Fuel is a major issue on this very fast circuit and it is unlikely that any of the top cars will be able to fuel to the end at full race speed, thus expect to see some conservative driving as they try to make it last. Soft and medium tyres have been allocated for this race, and most teams appeared happy with that selection until first practice when they found the soft tyre disintegrated after only a few laps.

Overtaking has been a problem in the past but the use of kers and DRS on the two long straights have solved that to a degree, though it is still difficult to get within the one second limit at the DRS trigger point. The opening wiggly bend can cause difficulties at the start as they all try to navigate it two and three abreast.

Nico Rosberg won this race last year.


News From the Pitlane

Force India has extended its relationship with Mercedes-Benz and will thus continue to use its powertrains for 2014 and beyond. From 2014, all cars will switch to 1.6-litre V6 turbo engines. Because of the switch to V6, the engine makers have convinced the FIA for an extra pre-season test for 2014. This will probably be in January ahead of the three scheduled tests in February.

On the opening day of the New York International Auto Show, Infiniti announced Sebastian Vettel had been appointed director of performance for the premium automotive brand. This announcement extends Vettel’s relationship with Infiniti, which formally began in 2011. In this capacity, Vettel already has played a role in developing Infiniti’s vehicle line-up, starting with the Infiniti FX Vettel Edition and most recently with the all-new Infiniti Q50.


Standings After Two Grands Prix

Constructors: 1. Red Bull 66, 2. Lotus 40, 3. Ferrari 40, 4. Mercedes 37, 5. Force India 10, 6. Sauber 4, 7. McLaren 4. 8. Toro Rosso 1.

Drivers: 1. Sebastian Vettel 40, 2. Kimi Räikkönen 31, 3. Mark Webber 26, 4. Lewis Hamilton 25, 5. Felipe Massa 22, 6. Fernado Alonso 18, 7. Nico Rosberg 12, 9. Romain Grosjean 9, 9. Adrian Sutil 6, 10. Paul di Resta 4, 11. Nico Hulkenberg 4, 12. Sergio Perez 2, 13. Jenson Button 2, 14. Jean-Eric Vergne 1.

Updated: 04/12/2013, SteveRogerson
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