F1: Vettil No.1 – Chinese Grand Prix April 20, 2009Posted by Kunal Janu in Cricket.
Tags: chinese grand prix, force india, formula one, race 3, rain, redbull racing, results, rules, sebastian vettil, shangai, vijay mallay, wet
April 19 2009, Shangai, China: The long wait is finally over for Red Bull Racing. After four years and 75 Grands Prix in the pinnacle of motor sport, the England-based outfit scored their maiden victory at the rain-soaked Chinese GP on Sunday. Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel of Germany led Red Bull to a sizzling triumph at the waterlogged Shanghai International Circuit. Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber made it a 1-2 finish for the Austrian energy drink backed team thus ending the domination of early-season sensation Brawn GP.
Jenson button however continues to lead the championships with 21 points and 2 race wins behind it’s back. Brawn GP continues to lead the constructors championship after race 3. Jenson finished third and teammate Barichello finished fourth. The McLaren team showed some signs of improvement as Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton finished fifth and sixth respectively. The ferrari’s continued to disappoint as this season becomes the worst ever for the Ferari since 1984. Ferrari is the only team along with Force India yet to register championship points.
Sebastian Vettil did only 10 laps as against 20 from his team mate during qualifying to finish fastest. The top position changed hands one after the other as the drivers crossed the start finish line. If Hamilton would lead, It would be Button follwoing up 100th of a second faster followed by Webber and then followed by vettil, every single driver going past the others by 100th of a second. So exciting was the qualifying that the top 10 positions were only separated by 1 second. Ferrari continued to have a bad qualifying session as Massa not even making it to Q3. Raikkonen finished at a dismal 8th with Hamilton in 9th. Fernando Alonso finished a surprise second in qualifying.
The drivers and the teams were welcomed by torrential rains in Shangai. The track was wet and the start had to happen behind the safety car. Vettil continued on his way to victory as he continued to lap one second faster every single lap. Fernando alonso pitted behind the safety car and was forced to rejoin the race at the last position. The young Vettel, know for his exploits in wet conditions, was flawless in his second career victory. After eight laps behind the safety car, Vettel got away to a clean start, while the pack of drivers behind him struggled with poor visibility due to the spray off the tyres. The 56-lap race saw one more safety car period when BMW driver Robert Kubica hit Toyota’s Jarno Trulli from behind.
Ferrari’s Fillipe Massa, running third came to a stand still because of a mechanical failure in the car, ending his race in complete disappointement and disgust. Kimi Raikkonen was the only man from Ferrari fighting for his dear life with Hamilton for the fifth spot. Hamilton went past kimi twice but lost the spot back to him trying to build a gap between the 2. A routine pit stop saw Kimi at 12 place from where he struggled to get past any drivers. A disappointing race for the Ferrari’s.
For Force India, the Shanghai race was a yet another case of so near yet to so far. Adrian Sutil was just six laps from scoring the team’s first championship points. But a disaster robbed Force India’s of their joy. Sutil, with Hamilton breathing down his neck, went off the track in the 50th lap. He shunted the VJM02 on to a side wall as both front tires broke off the car. An aggressive strategy and error-free drive saw the German running sixth at the closing stages of the race. Sutil pitted and refuelled as early as lap four under the first safety car period and then again on lap 19, allowing him to move steadily up the field. He made it into top-eight when Sebastian Buemi went into the pits for his last stop. A log jam developed behind him, as Nick Heidfeld, Timo Glock and Fernando Alonso chased Sutil as the battle for the last two points scoring positions intensified.
Hamilton had a moment of madness as he spun around, but kept it together, dropping a place letting Sutil climb into a dream sixth spot. Sutil’s teammate Giancarlo Fisichella finished 14th (a lap behind the winner). Team boss Vijay Mallya was all praise for Sutil’s brave drive in the treacherous conditions. “The team is very proud of Sutil. He has yet again proved that he has a genuine flair in the wet and came desperately close to scoring those elusive points.
Adrian Sutil seemsto have a jinx of falling at the final hurdle. He had a fantastic race in the wet in Monaco last year, but an over-aggressive Kimi Raikkonen spoiled his potential fourth-place finish by ramming the Force India car from behind. The misfortune continued at the Chinese GP on Sunday. Sutil looked set to register Force India’s first-ever points, only to be cruelly denied sixth place barely minutes from the chequered flag when his car crashed out of control.
“I had prepared myself for a hard race and that’s exactly what it was,” he said later. “We took a risk with the strategy with a very early stop, and it was a long way to go with one set of tyres. Then it started to rain again and it was very hard to keep the car on the circuit. “Sometimes even in a straight line in fourth or fifth gear I was struggling with aquaplaning, and I was very lucky to keep the car on the circuit for so long,” he said.
Sutil said the team should be proud of this race. “It was a risk to go on one-stop, because I stopped very early. I was very light at the beginning and then under the safety car we went into the pits and just filled it up. With six laps to go I hit another patch of water and ended up in the wall. It was very disappointing,” he said.
Sutil said it was fun to race wheel-to-wheel with world champion Lewis Hamilton, his former teammate at F3. “I made a good pass on Kovalainen when he went out of the pits, so I could take his position.Then I was behind Lewis, and in the end he was behind me. It was nice to just race the guys in the front there. We had really good pace, so that was promising,” he concluded.
The new regulations are already making this season exciting. Teams like the red bulls and Brawn GP lead the championship tables. Don’t be surprised If Ferrari’s and McLaren’s continue to struggle.
Official Race timing at: Formula One