2019 Chinese Grand Prix.

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Swami, Apr 11, 2019.

  1. Swami

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    F1 heads to Shanghai this weekend for what officially marks the 1000th Grand Prix in history.

    Ferrari under pressure to respond to their Bahrain reliability woes for Charles Leclerc.

    Swami
     
  2. Swami

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    Chinese GP, F1's 1,000th race: Vettel top in first practice
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    By Andrew Benson

    Chief F1 writer



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    Listen to second practice from 06:55 BST on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra
    Sebastian Vettel set the pace in first practice as Ferrari hinted they could be the team to beat at the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend.

    Vettel finished the first session 0.207 seconds ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton - but the German was running harder tyres which should be slower.

    Team-mate Charles Leclerc was third ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.


    Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas was fifth ahead of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo and Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly.

    As in Bahrain two weeks ago, Ferrari's advantage over Mercedes appeared mainly to be on the straights.

    Bottas heads into the weekend as the championship leader, after a win in the season-opening race in Australia and a second behind Hamilton in Bahrain.

    But Hamilton's win in the desert came against the run of play after Leclerc, who had dominated the weekend, suffered an engine problem in the closing laps.

    There remains uncertainty about the shape of the competitive picture, after two races of which Mercedes and Ferrari have dominated one each.

    In theory, there is at least 0.5secs between the tyre compounds, so for Vettel to be 0.2secs quicker than Hamilton despite using a one grade harder tyre appears to bode well for Ferrari.

    And the internal dynamics at the Italian team are a major talking point - Vettel needs to bounce back in China to protect his position as nominal team leader after Leclerc's impressive performance in Bahrain.

    The session was relatively incident-free on a sunny day in smoggy Shanghai, although Racing Point's Lance Stroll had a spin out of the final corner early in the session.

    But the Canadian was an impressive ninth, just behind Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat and ahead of the Haas cars of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen.

    Swami
     
  3. Swami

    Swami Soap Chat Hero

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    Chinese GP, F1's 1,000th race: Bottas fastest in practice
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    By Andrew Benson

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    Final practice and qualifying is live on 5 live Sports Extra from 03:55 BST on Saturday
    Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas headed Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by just 0.027 seconds in second practice at the Chinese Grand Prix.

    Max Verstappen's Red Bull was third fastest, 0.221secs off the pace despite running wide at the final corner.

    Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes was fourth, 0.707secs off, while Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren's Carlos Sainz made it five teams in the top six.


    Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was seventh after problems on his quick laps.

    Leclerc split the McLarens, with British rookie Lando Norris eighth, ahead of Renault's Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull's Pierre Gasly.

    Vettel's 0.801secs advantage over his team-mate was exactly what the German needed after the Bahrain Grand Prix, where Leclerc dominated and was on course for a maiden victory before suffering engine problems late in the race.

    Leclerc's performance in Bahrain raised questions about Ferrari's policy of favouring Vettel in marginal calls at the start of the season.

    But team boss Mattia Binotto on Friday reiterated that Vettel remained the team's priority, saying: "If there is any 50-50 situation where we need to take a decision, the advantage would have been given to Sebastian simply because Sebastian has got most of the experience with the team in F1."

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    To mark the 1,000th race, several drivers have changed their helmet designs. Daniel Ricciardo's is a tribute to the first Australian winner and three-time world champion Sir Jack Brabham
    Leclerc aborted his first quick lap on the qualifying simulation runs and when he did finally try again after a number of slow laps he was not able to approach Vettel's pace.

    Leclerc also ran into problems later in the session - he was unable to do his race-simulation run because of a problem with the cooling system.

    It is the third consecutive race in which the engine at Ferrari has caused a concern of one kind or another.

    Before Bahrain, Ferrari had to run their engine at a lower performance level in the first race in Australia because of unspecified problems.

    And Ferrari changed the control electronics on their cars for this race to try to prevent a repeat of the short circuit in an injection control unit that caused Leclerc's problems in Bahrain. Teams can use only two control electronics boxes for an entire season, so Ferrari have now used up their allocation.

    Mercedes felt they were on the back foot after Vettel headed the first practice session, but Bottas was able to usurp the German at the top of the times in the second session, when teams come close to simulating qualifying conditions.

    And Bottas also appeared to have a slight performance advantage in the race runs later in the session.

    However, both Mercedes drivers had pretty much identical spins early in the session, when rounding the interconnected Turns One and Two just after exiting the pits.

    Hamilton said: "It was quite cold out there, which makes it difficult for the tyres. I was struggling with the car, so we've got work to do, particularly on my side as Valtteri looked much more comfortable.

    "It is nice to see how close it is between us, Red Bull and Ferrari."

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    Hamilton spun at Turn 2 almost at exactly the same time his team-mate did
    Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who was 17th fastest, suffered a front wing failure during the second session, when the right-hand side of the wing broke at the point where the central mandated neutral section meets the outer parts that teams can manipulate for aerodynamic effect.

    Off track, a number of teams are already running into reliability issues with engines.

    Renault have fitted updated MGU-K units - the part of the hybrid system that recovers energy from the rear axle - to both factory cars of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo as well as to the McLaren of Lando Norris, after the other McLaren driver Carlos Sainz had one in Bahrain.

    This is because of repeated failures in the new design of MGU-K that was introduced for this season.

    And Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat has become the first Honda driver to take new engine parts - he has a new internal combustion engine, turbo, MGU-K and MGU-H (the hybrid part attached to the turbo) after a failure in first practice.

    Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Norris, Sainz and Kvyat are as a result likely to run into grid penalties later in the season as each driver is restricted to just three engines, turbos and MGU-Hs and two MGU-Ks and control electronics per season.

    Swami
     
  4. Swami

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    Chinese GP, F1's 1,000th race: Valtteri Bottas takes China pole from Lewis Hamilton
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    By Andrew Benson

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    Sunday's 1,000th race is live on the BBC Sport website and 5 live from 07:10 BST
    Valtteri Bottas fended off team-mate Lewis Hamilton in a tight battle for pole position at the Chinese Grand Prix as Mercedes out-paced Ferrari.

    Bottas, the quicker Mercedes driver all weekend in Shanghai, found his advantage cut by Hamilton to just 0.023 seconds as the world champion finally found pace.

    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was third fastest, 0.301secs off the pace, and just 0.017secs quicker than team-mate Charles Leclerc.


    Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly took fifth and sixth places.

    Red Bull looked to have a chance to challenge the Ferraris after the first runs, when Verstappen split Vettel and Leclerc, but a misjudgement meant neither car made it around to start the final laps before the chequered flag fell.

    Vote for your favourite here

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    Thai-Brit driver Alex Albon was unhurt after his Toro Rosso slammed into the wall during final practice
    Bottas on fire
    Bottas, who had had a comfortable lead over Hamilton all weekend, found himself under severe pressure in the top 10 shoot-out.

    The Finn, who leads Hamilton in the championship by one point, was just 0.007secs quicker than the Briton on their first laps.

    It was neck and neck on the second runs, but Bottas managed to improve as Hamilton slipped a little in the final sector of his run and Bottas had his first pole of 2019.

    Sunday's race is at 07:10 BST, live on the BBC Sport website and 5 live.

    Vettel has had the edge on Leclerc in China so far but the Monegasque came agonisingly close to beating him for the second weekend in a row.

    Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has said that Vettel will have priority in "50-50 situations" but has said the two will be allowed to race.

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    Bottas felt he "struggled" in Q3 to get the "perfect lap"
    A right Red Bull mix-up
    It was a lost opportunity for Red Bull as neither car managed to complete a second lap in final qualifying - a problem that also hit Haas.

    The Mercedes drivers were at the head of the line as all the teams went out at the very last minute trying to get the best track conditions. That led to a queue. Vettel's engineer warned him to make up some time but Verstappen and Red Bull were not quick enough to realise the predicament they were in.

    He was urged to hurry up by his engineer, but it was too late.

    Team-mate Gasly was held up behind him and the Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were also caught out.

    That left an open goal for the Renault drivers to take seventh and eighth places and Daniel Ricciardo pipped team-mate Nico Hulkenberg by just 0.004secs.

    Further down the field, it was a sobering day for McLaren, as Carlos Sainz and British rookie Lando Norris could manage only 14th and 15th places, a blow after their positive start to the season.

    British novice George Russell beat Williams team-mate Robert Kubica for the third race in a row and for the first time this season the two Williams cars will not start the race from the back row.

    Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi did not take part in qualifying because of an engine problem and Toro Rosso were not able to repair Alexander Albon's car in time for qualifying after the Anglo-Thai rookie had a heavy crash at the end of final practice.

    Albon, who had looked in with a good chance of making the top 10, said: "I am OK. More angry and disappointed than anything else. It was a big one and silly one. We had a good chance of being in Q3. We had a good car."

    His team-mate Daniil Kvyat had been seventh on his first run in Q2 but failed to improve on his second and missed out on a top 10 place by just 0.022secs.

    Swami
     
  5. Swami

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    Lewis Hamilton wins F1's race 1,000 in China
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    By Andrew Benson

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    Lewis Hamilton took a comfortable victory in the Chinese Grand Prix to hold the championship lead for the first time in 2019.

    The Mercedes driver passed team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who started from pole position, off the line and controlled Formula 1's 1,000th race from there.

    Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel took third, after the team ordered team-mate Charles Leclerc to let him by in the opening laps.


    The decision led to Leclerc losing fourth place to Max Verstappen's Red Bull.

    And Ferrari's young driver - in his third race for the team - questioned the decision over team radio, saying: "But I'm pulling away."

    Ferrari will face questions about the wisdom of their approach to the race - and to team orders in general - but Hamilton was serenely distant from such concerns.

    After taking the lead, Hamilton edged away from Bottas, building a five-second lead before his first pit stop on lap 22.

    Mercedes' decision to bring Bottas in first to protect from Vettel behind dropped the lead to less than two seconds, but Hamilton soon pulled away again to take his second victory in a row.

    It was Hamilton's 75th career victory, and it came on a weekend on which he had struggled throughout practice but pulled a lap out of the bag to grab a front-row spot, which proved the foundation for his win.

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    That's win number 75 for Hamilton: he's the second most successful F1 driver of all time in terms of wins, but still 16 behind Michael Schumacher
    Ferrari team orders controversy hots up
    Ferrari were running third and fourth in the opening laps, with Leclerc ahead of Vettel after passing his team-mate at the first corner, when they made the call to switch drivers.

    Vettel was sitting a second behind Leclerc and appeared to be able to go faster, so Ferrari ordered the Monegasque to let him past.

    The decision was in line with Ferrari's stated policy to favour Vettel in 50-50 situations, as reconfirmed by team boss Mattia Binotto earlier in the weekend. And it was made in an attempt to try to challenge Mercedes. But it triggered a set of circumstances that led to Verstappen beating Leclerc to fourth place.

    Letting Vettel by cost Leclerc time and ensured Verstappen was closer to him. Vettel was unable to pull away - Leclerc sat just as close to his team leader as the German had to him. And he summed up the situation over the radio by saying: "Now what?"

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    Leclerc said over team radio after giving up a place to his team-mate: "I'm losing quite a lot of time, I don't know if you want to know or not"
    It was a perceptive comment. With Verstappen just two seconds back, Red Bull triggered the pit-stop period.

    That guaranteed he would pass Leclerc if he had pitted on the next lap, so Ferrari pitted Vettel to protect his position.

    Vettel kept third - just - and now Ferrari thought about running Leclerc long to give him a tyre advantage later in the race.

    But that did not work either, and Leclerc pitted on lap 22, only five after Verstappen, rejoining now 11 seconds behind the Red Bull solely because of his weaker strategy.

    Leclerc began to catch Verstappen and had the lead down to three seconds within 10 laps only for Red Bull to out-think Ferrari again, bringing Verstappen in for a second stop on lap 34.

    Again, Ferrari had to respond with Vettel - and Mercedes then also did to secure Hamilton and Bottas' positions - and again Leclerc was the loser.

    He was briefly into second place, but Bottas soon passed him and Vettel and Verstappen began to haul him in. Ferrari eventually pitted Leclerc on lap 42 and he rejoined now 14 seconds behind Verstappen - too much of a gap to make up in the remaining 16 laps.

    Could Ferrari have better protected third and fourth if they had left the cars in their initial order? Is the decision to back Vettel for their title assault the right one? These questions will hang over Ferrari for some time to come.

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    The eyes have it: In celebration of the 1,000th race, BBC Sport users voted Jenson Button's spectacular wet comeback at the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix as their greatest ever race
    Battles down the field
    Red Bull's Pierre Gasly took sixth, in a race of his own too slow to keep up with his team-mate and and too fast for everyone else.

    Renault's Daniel Ricciardo took seventh, ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez and Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen.

    The final point was taken by Toro Rosso's Alexander Albon, a fine drive after starting from the pit lane in a car rebuilt after his huge accident in final practice on Saturday.

    Albon had pressure from Haas' Romain Grosjean on the final lap but just managed to hold on.

    McLaren had a dire day. Both cars were hit and damaged by Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat on the first lap.

    Kvyat lost control of his car and it snapped into Carlos Sainz, and then bounced into Lando Norris, who was on the outside of the track. The Russian was given a drive-through penalty for the incident, which he felt was harsh.

    Norris and Kvyat ended up retiring and Sainz finished 14th.

    Driver of the day
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    F1's 1,000th race did not live up to expectations - the lead was never in question and Hamilton was supreme in leading Mercedes' third consecutive one-two at the start of this season. But this award goes to Albon, who drove superbly to take a point from a pit lane start, which will be a boost to his confidence that could have taken a knock after his practice crash
    What happens next?
    Baku in two weeks time. Ferrari might be favoured on the harum-scarum street track, because of its long, long straights. But who would ever bet against Mercedes?

    What they said
    Hamilton: "It has not been the most straightforward of weekends but what a fantastic result for the team.

    "We arrived here not knowing how we would measure against Ferrari - they were so quick in the last race. Valtteri has been quick all weekend and to have a one-two is really special on the 1,000th grand prix. The start was where I could make the difference and after that it is history.

    "It has been so close between us all and I really have no idea how the next race is going to turn out."

    Vettel said: "I felt I could go faster but then it was a bit difficult for me to find a rhythm. I had a couple of wobbles where I could not keep the advantage I was getting."

    Swami
     

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