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China Analysis - Alonso’s ‘Grande Weekend’ 15 Apr 2013

(L to R): Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1, Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F138 crosses the line.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1, Eric Boullier (FRA) Lotus F1 Team Principal, and the Lotus F1 Team celebrate their second position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04 battles with Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04 leads at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9 lost a rear wheel.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 There are several collisions through the field and Kimi Raikkonen damages the front wing of his Lotus as he clips the rear of Sergio Perez's McLaren Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Giedo van der Garde (NDL) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013

It was always clear the 2013 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix was going to be as much about strategy as speed, and the man who found the optimum combination was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. As a fascinating race developed, one by one the Spaniard dropped his main challengers to win by a comfortable 10 seconds. And as Lotus and Mercedes maintained their strong form, defending champions Red Bull were left rueing a weekend when for once they couldn’t seem to get anything right. We take a team-by-team look at Sunday's Shanghai formbook…

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P1
Felipe Massa, P6

Ferrari greeted their winner with the words ‘Grande weekend’, and that perfectly summarised Alonso’s time in China. The F138 qualified well and had great long-run pace, and the Spaniard was relatively unchallenged on his way to his 31st victory. The timely success made up for the disappointment in Malaysia and put him up to third in the points table. Massa was less fortunate. He ran second early on, but once he fell into the midfield he was unable to claw his way back out.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, P2
Romain Grosjean, P9

Raikkonen made a terrible start but fought back and survived a clash with Sergio Perez which damaged the nose of his Lotus. The E21 is a tough car, however, and though the result was more understeer and subsequent tyre damage, he still had the pace to finish a convincing second. Grosjean looked strong early on but, like Massa, suffered once he fell into the upper midfield traffic and could not better ninth.

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, P3
Nico Rosberg, Retired lap 22, broken anti-rollbar

It was a good and bad story for Mercedes. The good was another great performance from Hamilton, who led initially from pole position, and was strong enough to finish on the podium for the second race in succession. The bad was an anti-rollbar failure for Rosberg, which one again denied him the chance of points after a promising start.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P4
Mark Webber, Retired lap 16, lost wheel

It was a similar story at Red Bull, where the tyre strategy chosen in qualifying - running the mediums - compromised Vettel’s race. He defended that on the basis that the RB9 lacked sheer performance, and did his best to make things work. He had a spell in the lead, and was charging in the closing stages after a very late switch to soft rubber. He failed to catch Hamilton for the final podium slot by two-tenths of a second. Webber had a terrible time. He started from the pit lane in an optimised car, and was making progress until he collided with Vergne and damaged his front wing. After the stop to fix that he lost his right-rear wheel, thus failing to finish. Compounding Webber’s miserable day, he gets a three-place grid penalty for Bahrain for his driving misdemeanour and the team were fined 5000 euros for the problem with his wheel.

McLaren
Jenson Button, P5
Sergio Perez, P11

Button had a great run in the revised McLaren MP4-28, and even had a spell in the lead. Like Vettel, he was out of kilter with the others after starting on medium Pirellis. He made them last 23 laps in his first stint, and the next set last 26, before switching to the soft rubber for the final one. Fifth place was a solid result that shows McLaren are making progress. Perez survived the clash with Raikkonen, but his handling was compromised and that prevented him getting involved in the battle for the final points.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, P7
Jean-Eric Vergne, P12

Ricciardo drove a great race to score solid points, starting seventh and finishing seventh. The performance unlocked more of the potential of the STR8, something he put down to personnel changes gelling to produce a positive result. Vergne looked good at times, but lost time in the collision with Webber.

Force India
Paul di Resta, P8
Adrian Sutil, Retired lap 6, hit by Gutierrez

The two Force India drivers collided at the end of the opening lap, losing Di Resta many places. He fought back strongly, however, and a brilliant third stint saw him climb back to a solid eighth place finish, though he was sure it would have been better still without the incident. Sutil looked good for a while, too, until he was assaulted on the fifth lap by Gutierrez.

Sauber
Nico Hulkenberg, P10
Esteban Gutierrez, Retired lap 5, hit Sutil

Hulkenberg was a real star in the early laps, slashing up through the field and passing Vettel. That gave him the lead once all the soft tyre runners had made their first stops, but a delay with his right-rear wheel put him a place down on Vettel when they stopped on the 14th lap, and another pit-lane problem dropped him down to a less than representative 10th-place finish. Gutierrez misjudged his braking for Turn 14 on the fifth lap and collided heavily with Sutil. He gets a five-place grid penalty for that in Bahrain.

Williams
Valtterri Bottas, P13
Pastor Maldonado, P14

Williams had an unhappy time, as changes to the FW35s did not bring about the anticipated step forward in performance.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi, P15
Max Chilton, P17

Once again, Marussia had the upper hand over Caterham, but it was close between Bianchi and the latter’s Charles Pic as they finished only two seconds apart after a race-long battle. Further back, Chilton kept his MR02 ahead of Van der Garde’s Caterham.

Caterham
Charles Pic, P16
Giedo van der Garde, P18

Pic proved that the Caterham is getting closer to the Marussia with a very strong performance which saw him fight Bianchi all the way to the flag, but Van der Garde struggled throughout in his CT03.

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