Wednesday, 13 April 2011

China, don't mention the disidents

So then, with barely enough time to draw breath and wash the champagne out of the race suits. The team have upped sticks and moved to the Shanghai International Circuit in China for the 3rd race of the year.

With such a tight turn around between races there is very little change the teams can make to the cars for this race. Obviously Renault will be flying a new car out for Petrov, but for the teams at the back of the grid such as HRT and Virgin, just getting a car to the race is an effort.

So there are unlikely to be any new aero bits or mechanical updates from any of the teams here, which in reality, means that the cars are going to be in the same spec as they were in Malaysia. That’s not to say the big boys won’t be sending the odd drawing office assistant out with a new rear wing element or exhaust manifold as hand luggage, but new floors and engine covers will have to wait for the return to Europe and the Turkish GP.

China can throw up the odd interesting race, especially if it rains. Last year Buttons smooth style on a slippery track helped him to his second win and the first McLaren 1-2 of the season. Vettel got the pole in the dry, but rain on race day left the Redbulls struggling.

Based on Malaysia which is a similar sort of circuit to China, the long fast straight and between sweeping corners is going to suit the Redbulls and McLarens. Button looks like he could be the one to take the challenge to Vettel on circuits where conserving tires is going to be at a premium, whilst Alonso and Hamilton will race the back sides off their cars.

I think the Redbull have the stronger long run pace, where the McLaren can’t stay as fast for as long on the harder tires. Meanwhile the Ferrari seems to have a problem with tire management full stop, they can’t seem to get the hard tires to work in qualifying which means they’re using up soft sets to make it into Q3. This leaves them with less option in the race and they’ve having to come back from further down the grid which in turn works the tires harder.

Renault look like their whizzy little start software has lost none of its zip with Heidfeld in the car. A blinding start last week from both of the Renaults set them up for two top ten finished until Petrov forgot where he was and though he was at Aintree not Sepang

Petrov takes the chair comfortable.

Can Renault do it again and get another podium? I don’t see why not, as long as they can get into Q3 they should be able to move up the order when the red lights go out.

Of course Renaults gain is Mercedes loss. They got both cars home in Malaysia, but they were an awfully long way back when you think how much money has been thrown at the team so far. There has been a lot of discussion of late over Schumacher and “What in the name of Stirling Mosses underpants is he doing coming back. The mans a fool !” Personally I didn’t think he’s a fool for coming back. Yeah he’s in a midfield dog of a car that doesn’t look like it’s going to go any faster any time soon. But he’s still out there giving it the beans and trying to drive other cars off the road. He’s lost none of that vim and vigour of old. Sure he’s missing the endless testing and win whatever the cost from the Ferrari days. And I can’t see an 8th world championship anytime soon. But He’s still got a smile when he gets out of the car, he doesn’t bad mouth the team or other drivers. So I guess he’s just doing it because it’s an enjoyable thing to do. Also it’s not like the old days when there was a 40% chance that someone would die during the race. It’s far far safer than it was 30 years ago when Lauda and Prost came back after a break.

As I said, I respect Schumacher for what he’s done, I still don’t like him as a person but I have no problem at all with him being there.

Williams still need to get their act together. What was a promising design and direction looks like it’s turned into an utter failure. That and the fact the firing of Hulkenburg for Malder what’s name is looking more and more like the stupid move everyone said it was.

Force India, two races two points from the rookie. Good stuff.

Torro Rosso, looked fast, then didn’t, rubbish drivers still.

Lotus are making noises about a new diffuser, when they should be talking about firing Trulli.

Virgin are being very quite

And Liuzzi is saying the HRT is still going to blow Virgin away at the next race.

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