Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010 Chinese GP: Ferrari & McLaren seek redemption during Bull Run

Red Bull totally dominated the 2010 Malaysian GP with a perfect race which saw Sebastien Vettel winning his first race of the season with teammate Webber coming in 2nd. Red Bull has been strong since the start of the season and seems to have the fastest car but reliability have hit them hard and Vettel was on track to win both the Australian and Bahrain grand prix till reliability issues stalled his progress but they seem to have got everything right when he won at Sepang. Mark Webber is under severe pressure to perform this season as there are rumours of Kimi taking his seat for the 2011 season. SO far he has been a bit shaky this season but if he continues to race as he did in Malaysia, he should be on the hunt for the title very soon.

Ferrari and McLaren had a very bad Malaysian GP which saw them mess up qualifying so badly that the teams failed to get a driver on the podium despite having superior machinery as of now to Mercedes GP. McLaren seem to have an upper hand as we go towards the Chinese GP as their cars looks more suited to the track and could provide stiff challenge to RBR while Ferrari may lead both the championships as of now but with engine reliability as an issue things are not looking as rosy as it was for the team. Massa may lead the drivers’ championship but with the rumour of Kubica joining Alonso in Ferrari for 2011 should be a distraction which is best avoided for his own good.

Mercedes scored its first podium of the year with Rosberg finishing 3rd and though on paper he is just 4 points behind leader Massa, he needs to score as much as points as possible till Barcelona as the team is expected to debut a “B” spec car which is expected to put them on the title hunt firmly. Michael Schumacher’s last win was here but that seem to be a long time back while even rival Alonso might still consider Schumacher as his title rival for 2010, unless Mercedes does something to the car, Schumacher will only be a prop for the team. He may still beat Rosberg to prove a point that he still has it in him.

Renault and Kubica have had 2 amazing race weekends and Renault is looking to catch up with Mercedes during this weekend. Though Kubica is not much behind Massa, but if he continues to drive the way he is doing as of now, he may emerge as a dark horse for the title race this season. Russia’s 1st F1 driver Petrov proved that he is every bit of a racer and it took Hamilton to pull off an unsporting weaving to actually keep Petrov off. He will be looking forward to score his 1st set of points this weekend.

Force India has had its best ever start to the season and the team while it was known as Jordan actually even challenged for the title for a season will be looking to catch up with Renault. So far Force India is well ahead of Williams and STR but it needs both its drivers to score points together to catch up with Renault. The track should favour them and they could even be faster than Mercedes GP this weekend. Force India has to make the most of the conditions and ensure that they get both drivers on points with one of them even having an outside chance of making it to the podium.

Williams and STR are with points and though STR seems like it has caught with Williams during the last race, it is a long season and STR should work really hard to sustain the momentum. Jaime Alguersuari may have ended his points scoring draught but Sebastien Buemi is still considered a better driver and the tussle between these 2 through the season should be interesting. Nico Hulkenberg proved that he has the talent by scoring his 1st F1 point but he needs to beat Rubens Barrichello once again to show that he is the real deal.

Sauber is the only old team yet to score points and the way things are going if they don’t score points they may not even last the season. Pedro de la Rosa is yet to score points while Kamui Kobayashi is just the shadow of the driver we saw he was with Toyota last season. Sauber needs a change in fortune or else it will be only a matter of time when Lotus catches up with them.

It is good to see the new teams making progress and Lotus may be the only team among the lot to have a realistic chance of scoring some points during the season. Still lot of work has to be done but with 2 experienced drivers and a good set-up they can surprise people towards the 2nd half of the season. HRT has done well so far but with Dallara not building a car up to the mark they may lag behind Lotus and even Virgin Racing.

Though RBR seems to have the speed, you cannot discount Ferrari or McLaren while Force India and Renault may surprise a lot of people. Mercedes needs a sound strategy and a miracle drive from Schumacher to pull anything of this race. This was also the venue where Vettel driving for STR during his debut season crashed into Webber during the safety car period while Hamilton got stuck into gravel on his way to pits. So strange things have happened here and 2010 would definitely benefit from another strange race with rains.

Chinese GP Top 10 Predictions

1. Sebastien Vettel
2. Mark Webber
3. Adrian Sutil
4. Lewis Hamilton
5. Fernando Alonso
6. Michael Schumacher
7. Felipe Massa
8. Jenson Button
9. Robert Kubica
10. Vitantonio Liuzzi

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