China race analysis - Red Bull find their wings at last 20 Apr 2009
With Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button fourth and fifth on the grid, both with heavily fuelled cars, Brawn had looked set for another victory in Shangai. That was until the dark clouds arrived, changing the whole complexion of the Chinese Grand Prix before it had even started.
Brawn - nor anyone else - had any answer to the sheer class of Sebastien Vettel and the Red Bull. In the atrocious conditions Adrian Neweys latest creation - boasting only a single diffuser - was unstoppable. With a revised diffuser on the way, the RB5 must now be considered a serious title contender
Sebastian Vettel, P1
Mark Webber, P2
The sheer class of the Red Bull RB5 was more and more apparent as the race developed, and it became clear that in the wet it generated the right sort of tyre temperatures to keep Vettel and Webber happy. The German certainly benefited from the safety car start, without which the outcome might have been closer, but Webber provided much of the entertainment in his fight with Button. Vettels only major problem was an inadvertent attack by Buemi, who got caught out under the second safety car when Vettel slowed for a white car he believed to be Barrichello, which turned out to be the damaged Trulli. Its been a long road for Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz since he came into F1 with Sauber and then bought Jaguar Racing, and his one-two victory was richly deserved.
Jenson Button, P3
Rubens Barrichello, P4
For a while Brawn looked good for a third consecutive victory, especially as the Red Bulls were running on a short fuel strategy. But it soon became clear that the BGP001s dry road advantage of being kind to its tyres was a serious handicap when it came to generating decent temperatures in the wet. Both Button and Barrichello struggled like mad, but third and fourth places kept them at the head of both championships.
Heikki Kovalainen, P5
Lewis Hamilton, P6
Kovalainen was McLarens lead driver, and his fifth place finish was well deserved after a canny single-stop strategy and some peerless driving enabled him to make significant progress. Hamilton was fantastic in the early stages and he climbed as high as fourth, but his push-on style took its toll on his tyres. Subsequently he admitted to making too many mistakes, but his was a typically determined run that netted sixth, helping to give McLaren seven valuable points.
Timo Glock, P7
Jarno Trulli, Retired lap 18, accident with Kubica
A bump with Heidfeld on lap 13 delayed Glock, but despite a few off-course moments the German charged his way up to seventh place in the closing stages to add to Toyotas constructors championship score. Trulli fell back quickly after the start, and was taken out when Kubica aquaplaned heavily into the back of his TF109 on lap 18.
Sebastien Buemi, P8
Sebastien Bourdais, P11
Buemi drove another excellent race and stayed cool under heavy pressure from the likes of Alonso. He also passed Raikkonen and Hamilton! He was also lucky to get away with his heavy shunt into Vettel when they came across a slowing Trulli while running under the safety car. Thankfully the Toro Rosso is a strong car and so is the Red Bull. All he needed was a new front wing on the STR4. Bourdais had a couple of spins which prevented him from finishing better than 11th.
Fernando Alonso, P9
Nelson Piquet, P16
As expected, Alonso was the first to refuel, on lap seven before the safety car had even come in! That dropped the Spaniard to the back of the field and he spent the afternoon trying to recover ground. His pressure on Buemi paid off and he was in contention for minor points when he spun late in the race and had to be content with ninth. Piquet had a terrible afternoon, two big spins each requiring a new nose. He finished an unhappy 16th.
Kimi Raikkonen, P10
Felipe Massa, Retired on lap 21, electrical
Ferrari went home without any points for the third race in succession, but they were unlucky this time. Massa drove really hard in the opening stages and had climbed to a promising third place by the 21st lap when his F60 simply ground to a halt with an electronic failure. Raikkonen fared a little worse in the initial going but was fourth by the time of his first stop on lap 27. Unfortunately that dropped him down the field, and he was never able to recover to better than 10th.
Nick Heidfeld, P12
Robert Kubica, P13
Heidfeld made a good start but soon ran wide on the lake in Turn 16 and lost places. Then he had a collision with Glock in Turn 14 on lap 13 which damaged his car. Later still, he was hit by one of Sutils wheels when the Force India driver crashed on lap 51 and lost four places in rapid succession. Kubica had that shunt with Trulli on lap 18, and later had to stop for another front wing when the replacement worked loose and lost him downforce. Altogether, a day to forget for BMW Sauber.
Giancarlo Fisichella, P14
Adrian Sutil, P17, Retired lap 51, accident damage
Fisichella was Vijay Mallyas sole finisher in 14th after numerous excursions as his Bridgestones grained. Sutil gambled on an early fuel stop on lap four and another on 19 and had worked ahead of Hamilton for sixth within sight of the finish before losing it on lap 51 and crashing heavily enough to remove both front wheels.
Nico Rosberg, P15
Kazuki Nakajima, Retired lap 44, transmission
Yet again, Williams showed great potential and came away with zero. Rosberg complained of water drops on his visor which made visibility even more difficult in the tricky conditions. With 15 laps to go he desperately tried intermediates, but that gamble was negated when it began to rain again. Nakajimas afternoon of spinning or running off-course was brought to an end by transmission problems.