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Chinese GP 2015

Mercedes too strong for Ferrari.

The status quo in Formula 1 was restored at the Chinese GP over the weekend as Lewis Hamilton chalked up his 2nd win of 2015, and the 35th of his career. The Mercedes looked impressive again all weekend and really turned the style on in qualifying to easily lock out the front row. Behind them was the winner of the Malaysian GP two weeks ago, Sebastian Vettel and Felipe Massa. Kimi Raikkonen and Valteri Bottas completed the top six. The opening two stints of the race made fascinating viewing for everyone as, once again, Ferrari really kept Mercedes honest throughout; even threatening to undercut Nico Rosberg in 2nd place. Vettel looked like the driver we've witnessed win four World Championships again, with his race craft and pace looking tremendous. With every stint during the race he was able to see both Mercedes cars on the track and got to within 1.5 seconds of Nico Rosberg at one point.

Unfortunately for Ferrari, the Mercedes were a different animal on the prime tyres and were able to pull out a gap during the final stint, much to Mercedes’ relief. The better chassis and amount of down force created by the car would have aided the Mercedes to fend off the fighting Ferraris. If Ferrari can keep developing their car and have ambitions of winning the World Championship this season, I think they can definitely achieve it. It is the strongest line up at the team that I can remember for a while now, especially as Kimi seems a lot happier with the car this season compared to previous. We can't forget that he was in amongst it during the race as well, coming up just behind Vettel. Mercedes will certainly be looking over their shoulders at Ferrari, and will be wanting to do something to extend their advantage over them.

Harmony (at least what was there anyway) seemed stretched at Mercedes yet again during the race. Rosberg seemed very frustrated that Hamilton was going "too slow", and this was backing him into the Ferraris. To add to this, running in the dirty turbulent air of Hamilton was causing Rosberg's tyres to go off quicker. The team even responded by giving Lewis the hurry up, which would have aggravated Lewis to no end. He responded thusly and drove away from Rosberg slightly. With Ferrari coming at Mercedes the way they are, the cold atmosphere between Hamilton and Rosberg which was also apparent last year may damage their charge. Ferrari seem in harmony again and that may give them a psychological advantage over their rivals, but only time will tell.


Wasted Talent

For anybody who has read previous entries, you will know I am a massive fan of Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and McLaren. So to see this year's McLaren battling for 15th, 16th and so on makes for heart crushing viewing. The two drivers deserve so much more than this, and their talent is being wasted in a car that is so far off the pace, only the Manor team are behind them on the grid. Both drivers are now in the twilight of their careers and will not just be wanting to be in F1 to make the numbers up; what is the point? Alonso is a double World Champion and should have won more by now. Button won his World title in 2009 and has been a different driver ever since, showing time and time again that he is a safe set of hands behind the wheel and will get you race victories. Having said this, the team do seem to be going forward, just not at the pace they would want. You can hear the misfires in the slow corners and see the power deficit on the straights, even against the Renault powered teams. Alonso still harbours dreams of another World Championship, but will he get this at McLaren Honda? The way they are going I don't think he will, but I am hopeful (as always) to be proven wrong on this one.

Max Verstappen Shows His Class Again

If Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso are in the twilight of their careers, Max Verstappen is on the other end of the spectrum. It is hard to think that he has only competed in 3 GPs in his career because he drives like a man who has 3 years under his belt. The phrase old head on young shoulders certainly springs to mind, especially considering that he is only 17 years old. Watching him you can clearly see how massively talented he is. Some of the overtaking he did during the race was outstanding, especially at the hairpin on Marcus Ericson, which had me on the edge of my seat. He seems to have that type of self-belief that you saw in Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna during their early days, which isn't a bad sign at all for the young Dutchman. His bravery and speed certainly remind me of the likes of Alonso at Minardi and even Sebastian Vettel when he was driving for Toro Rosso. Martin Brundle for me summed him up perfectly during the race, when he said that he will be driving a World Championship contending car by the time he is 20. If these early performances are anything to go by, he will break many records in F1. Give him the right machinery and I can only imagine what he would be capable of achieving. One thing is for sure, he won't be another Toro Rosso driver who doesn"t go all the way in F1.

Report Courtesy of Simon Gray

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