F1 Race Review: Chinese GP 2009

Another rainy race with all the necessary surprises! For Force India fans, this was a race where Sutil could have scored 3 points, shed the null record and genuinely get ahead of a historically great Ferrari. Sutil sadly crashed out five laps to go, dé•jà vu Monaco 2008. The day’s hero though was winner Sebastian Vettel, the ‘Baby Schumi’. Webber joined to make it a Red Bull 1-2. And, Button kept his podium run going for third time in a row.

The FIA verdict removed doubt on the double-decker diffusers used by Brawn, Toyota & Williams that seemed to give them an edge. While the three could breathe easier, others got back to drawing boards with Ferrari saying that the decision will mean ‘fundamental’ changes. McLaren played early-bird and got a revised aero; but that was just enough for Lewis. A ‘zero’ Ferrari on the other hand dropped off KERS to boost performance!

Among other developments, the paddock will now miss Ron Dennis as the McLaren Boss. Well, given his slimy repute, some would actually be too pleased with his absence. All said and done, the man’s genius of elevating himself from being a humble mechanic to a multimillionaire with McLaren is undeniable! He is behind the team’s 7 constructors’ and 10 drivers’ titles and 162 wins including those by Prost, Senna, Hakkinen & Lewis.

Shanghai Saturday threw its own surprises with Brawns not being runaway hits as it was in the first two races. Adrian Newey designed fast but fragile Red Bulls finally seemed to show some pace with Vettel’s pole and Webber’s P3. McLaren made it to Q3 for the first time with Lewis bagging a P9 and for Ferrari, Massa lost it out in Q2 itself. Fernando Alonso made his mark with his P2 running light. Brawns on the other ran heavy.

The drenched race started behind the safety car for nearly five laps. At full speed, cars were seen running off tracks but overtaking maneuvers by Lewis on many and by Webber on Button were impressive. In the end, with questions on reliability, Red Bull has finally won a race, that too a 1-2 in their fifth F1 season. It’s another story that they were overshadowed by ‘junior’ Toro Rosso at Monza last year, courtesy the talented Vettel.

The Bulls were followed by the Brawns, Button and Barrichello and then came the McLarens of Heikki and Lewis. Timo Glock and debutante Buemi took the final points. The stars featured nowhere: Kimi finished tenth, BMWs twelfth and thirteenth and Felipe retiring with an electrical failure. The day could have almost belonged to Sutil, had he hung on for five more laps and bagged 3 points from a back of the grid small team.

As far as Championship standings go, Button leads with 21 followed by teammate Barrichello at 15. Vettel springs from nowhere into third with a 10 and Glock is fourth with a 10 too. For the teams, Brawn leads with 36 followed by Red bull at 19.5, 18 points courtesy China; Toyota is close behind at 18.5. Big name McLaren just has 8. Ferrari at 0 after three races is seems like a repeat of 1992! So long until the next race at Bahrain!