The 1000th World Championship event threw up some intriguing storylines, with Ferrari once again failing to make an impression on Mercedes while getting embroiled in intra-driver politics, while there were weekend-defining shunts for both Toro Rosso drivers. Our experts Will Buxton, Lawrence Barretto and Mark Hughes provide the answers to the questions you had after the Chinese Grand Prix.
Harsh on Kvyat?
Sam Barker (via F1's YouTube community)
Why did Kvyat get a drive through penalty? It looked like a racing incident, or at least he was just a little bit at fault. A 5-10 second penalty perhaps?
LAWRENCE BARRETTO SAYS...
Hi Sam. Incidents on the first lap of a Grand Prix are among the trickiest for the stewards to investigate because the field is as close as it will ever be during the race and contact is more likely. Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost felt the decision of a drive-through penalty was too harsh, as did Daniil Kvyat, and the general feeling in the paddock echoed that. But as the stewards said in their report, Kvyat “lost control of his car” and was “wholly at fault, causing a collision” with the McLarens of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. If you allow your car to get out of control, you must accept a penalty is coming and let’s not forget that his actions ruined both McLaren drivers’ races where they had the potential to score points. A five- or 10-second penalty could be considered too lenient because of that.
ONBOARD: See Norris and Sainz's view of their Lap 1 clash with Kvyat
Schumacher/Barrichello dynamic returning to Ferrari?
Curtis Fry (via F1's YouTube community)
Does Ferrari sacrificing Charles so early in the season signify another Schumacher - Barichello type situation where he'll never have a chance to challenge Seb?
WILL BUXTON SAYS...
Hi Curtis. I think we are a way off that yet. Thankfully. While the call from the Scuderia looked like a third instance of the team favouring Seb over Charles, in reality there was little to choose between the two drivers on race day and the guy behind is always going to think he can go faster.
But the fact that Max Verstappen was able to finish ahead of Leclerc raises the question of why the team is making such decisions. For me, it falls into a comparison with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton at McLaren. Charles Leclerc is the clear future of the team and the sport. And he’s ready now.
It’s the unabashed pace of the youngster against the established star that’s giving the team a headache. You don’t want to subjugate Leclerc lest you dampen his fire and negatively influence his progression, whilst at the same time you have to aim to maintain team harmony with the team’s supposed lead driver.
McLaren got that quite wrong a decade ago and lost both championships because of it...
How Ferrari’s Chinese Grand Prix driver switch played out
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MARK HUGHES SAYS...
Hi Vlady. Assuming that you're asking why Ferrari didn't split the drivers' strategies in Q2 - both Vettel and Leclerc having made it through the segment on the medium tyre - if they had run one of them on the soft, that driver would have been at a strategic disadvantage. There is almost always one prime strategy that is clearly better than the alternative and if you split it, then you are placing one driver at a disadvantage over the other before the race has even begun. Not only would this create internal tensions, but it would also put the disadvantaged car on the back foot against the opposition. The team is pretty much obliged to give both drivers the maximum chance and then to manage any resultant difficulties as they arise.
Vijayakrishnan Nair (via F1's YouTube community)
Out of the remaining races, where do you think Ferrari will be able to peg back the advantage Mercedes have?
LAWRENCE BARRETTO SAYS...
Hi Vijayakrishnan. Encouragingly for the Tifosi, the upcoming race in Azerbaijan should offer Ferrari an immediate chance to hit back and stop Mercedes’ unbeaten start to the season. You’ll be able to read more about why in a feature we’ll publish on Monday…
Beyond that, Spain’s Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya should be a happy hunting ground for Ferrari, considering their impressive form in pre-season testing that provided evidence the SF90 is at one with the circuit’s unique smooth and dirty surface.
Albon’s costly mistake
Bobwentfishing (via F1's YouTube community)
What are the procedures after an accident like Albon’s?
MARK HUGHES SAYS…
Hi Bob. If the data logger on the car has recorded an impact of over 15g lateral or 20g vertical for over 5 milliseconds, the medical car will be deployed. Later on, the driver would have to undergo a medical check.
Meanwhile, the team must make a call on whether the car can be repaired in time for the next session or whether it will be necessary to rebuild the car around the spare survival cell (the tub). Because the tub was damaged in the crash, it was decided to rebuild the car around the new tub – which entails removing the undamaged components from the crashed car and fitting them to the new one.
ALL THE ANGLES: Albon’s big FP3 shunt in China
In this case, it was decided to fit a new gearbox as the risk of damage to the old one was high. Rebuilding the car around a new tub entails by regulation having to start the race from the pit lane, so the theoretical five-place grid penalty for the new gearbox is not relevant. The work must be completed two hours before race start.
The team then provides the FIA with a declaration that it has self-scrutineered the newly built-up car. This relates to a procedure new for this year whereby the FIA no longer signs for each car having been scrutineered but the team instead provides the FIA with a signed statement that each of the FIA-defined requirements have been met. Obviously, this has to happen again with the building of a replacement car around a new tub.
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