Sunday, April 18, 2010

Button Masters Weather Again to Win the Chinese Grand Prix

Under threatening skies, the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix underwent final pre-race preparations with Formula 1 teams remaining on slick tires. Completing their warm up lap as the 24 f1 cars filed into grid, drivers Sebastian Vettel and teammate Mark Webber held the front row ahead of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso as well as the Mercedes piloted by Nico Rosberg. As the lights went out, it was the 3rd place Ferrari bypassed the pair of Red Bull-Renaults to lead the field into the first corner. However, upon review of the start, it was revealed that Alonso accelerated before the signal lights went dark. With the Ferrari committing a foul, Alonso was eventually sent to pit road to serve a drive-through penalty. "I made a serious mistake at the start as my reflexes let me down and I left early." Alonso would admit in a post-race interview. With much of the race ahead, Alonso was able to make-up for his uncharacteristic gaffe.

Other than the Ferrari start, the first lap involved some additional drama as Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi locked up his rear brakes slowing for turn 4. The rear of the Force India broke sideways siding collecting the BMW Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi and the Toro Rosso-Ferrari of Sebestien Buemi. Heading wide through the turn, Rubens Barrichello narrowly misses the tingling race cars in his William-Cosworth. Liuzzi cited problems placing heat in the braking system during the pre-race formation lap as contributing to his loss of control.

Photo Credit: Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic

The multiple-car crash on lap 1 drew the safety car allowing teams to switch their slick tire with wet weather Bridgestone rubber. This safety car period ended after four laps with Nico Rosberg leading Jenson Button and the Renault of Robert Kubica. With Rosberg padding to the interval between him and Button through over a dozen laps, Rosberg made a critical misstep on lap 20 spinning his Mercedes GP car in the final corner. While Nico Rosberg recovered, the McLaren-Mercedes of Jenson Button stormed by the slowed factory Mercedes GP racer.

On lap 25, the safety car came out once again as the remaining Toro Rosso-Ferrari of Jaime Alguersuari lost its front nose and wing assembly on track. The race restarted with a last set of pit stops looming for the Formula 1 cars. While Jenson Button would maintain his lead through the cycling as pit stops, the McLaren team went to work on teammate Lewis Hamilton's car. Running third before the stop, Hamilton's stop for intermediate thread tires allowed the McLaren-Mercedes to spring ahead of Nico Rosberg after the round of pit stops were completed.

Through the late laps, both McLaren-Mercedes race cars ran on the edge of control as Button and Hamilton struggled to sink their worn tires into the wet Shanghai track. Once possessing an almost 10 second lead over 2nd place, the interval shrank to 1.5 seconds by the time the McLaren teammate's crossed the start/finish line. Holding on, Jenson Button win in China made him the first multiple winner of the 2010 Formula 1 season.

Coming home 2nd, Lewis Hamilton brought his McLaren-Mercedes to a season-best finish. Complimenting his teammate Button for the victory, Hamilton felt the call for intermediate tires left something on the table. "...I think the whole team deserves this incredible one-two result. I hope the spectators and viewers enjoyed it, too!

Driving another dedicated race in the Mercedes GP team car, Nico Rosberg grabbed his second-straight podium finish in the Chinese Grand Prix. Also interesting to note, Rosberg's placement allows Mercedes-Benz engined car to own the podium for the race.

Photo Credit: Lotus Racing

Despite pitting 5 times through the Chinese Grand Prix including , Fernando Alonso's Ferrari was within striking distance of Mercedes GP car of Nico Rosberg. In fifth, Robert Kubica is still making the most of a growing year for the Renault F1 team. Along with Kubica's run, Renault F1 rookie Vitaly Petrov put together an overall strong effort in his young career finishing 7th and in the points. Driving against some seasoned veterans through the wet Shanghai International Circuit, Petrov passed drivers including Michael Schumacher for position.

As for the Red Bull Racing team, the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix will certainly send the Formula 1 team into a frenzy isolated the mistakes made after starting so promisingly on the front row. Losing the lead off the start, Sebestian Vettel never recovered the top spot and faded to 6th in the final results while Mark Webber could only gain 8th place.

Thanks to the two wins in four races, Jenson Button leaves China with the lead in Formula 1 points. Leading by 10 points, Button is holding off the very consistent Nico Rosberg who in turn is just a single point ahead of both Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

With a three-week break before the 2010 Formula 1 season gears for their first European round with the Spanish Grand Prix, the volcanic ash cloud activity over European skies has some officials concerned with flight arrangements. However, current reports place the likelihood of air travel being interrupted through three weeks as possible but not entirely creditable. Nonetheless, some teams will probably find the trip back to European countries from China could be complicated.

2010 Formula 1
Chinese Grand Prix
Finishing Order

1. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
5. Robert Kubica Renault F1
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
7. Vitaly Petrov Renault
8. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
9. Felipe Massa Ferrari
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
11. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
12. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth
13. Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari
14. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth
15. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth
16. Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth
17. Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth
18. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth
19. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth
20. Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari
21. Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari
22. Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari
23. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes
24. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth

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