China: Another blunder from Ferrari, a masterful race from Mercedes

Courtesy of Michael Potts

An accident at the start

The start saw Hamilton breeze into the lead, leaving the challenge between Vettle and Bottas, with the latter keeping his cool and forcing Vettel to back down only for Leclerc to benefit and get into third.  

By turn 6, all eyes went to the accident that was created by Daniil Kvyat when going side by side with Carlos Sainz and they collided, only to collect Lando Norris at the same time and launching Norris into the air.

Shockingly, they all went on to continue racing, and Kvyat incurring a drive-through penalty and the virtual safety car was activated. That in my opinion only benefited the Mercedes drivers. 

The uncalled-for team orders, in my opinion

Before you get all rallied up, yes Leclerc was not pushing hard, and yes Vettel was faster for a few laps. However, Leclerc started pushing and closing the gap to the Mercedes drivers and was not given much time before the team order came on lap 11.

Although Vettel stated that the team order was fair, I do not agree as I did not feel he had enough to push forward except his ego that he needs to be in the lead. And the result speaks for itself, and honestly, I am happy that he was not able to close the gap. Maybe this will force Ferrari to rethink their ethos of always having a driver no.1 and no.2, a relic from the past that they still stick to.

The undercut that caused problems for Ferrari

Things got worse for Ferrari, when Verstappen pitted on lap 18. Forcing Ferrari to respond to the undercut a lap later, which resulted in Vettel maintaining his position. However, Ferrari were left scratching their heads on how to deal with Leclerc, who pitted on lap 23 and was not able to challenge for a podium finish.

Reminiscent of Ferrari's pit stop at Budapest GP in 2010, Mercedes masterfully pitted both drivers on lap 36, with seconds apart. It is sad to witness the fall of Ferrari from that performance level and I wonder when they will return to that level of strategy execution.  

Battle of best of the rest

With the brutish Verstappen finishing 4th, and the so far unlucky Leclerc finishing 5th followed by Gasly in 6th, it is Riccardo who must be happy to finally manage to finish a race in the points with 7th . The Racing Point of Sergio Perez trying to overtake Riccardo had to settle for 8th, while Raikkonen again proving consistency and masterfulness in timing his overtakings to finish 9th when he started 13th and Albon finishing off the points with 10th.

After thoughts

Ferrari still suffer from their race strategy blunders, and the lack of ability to match the pace of Mercedes. However, they are still in a position to bounce back and get into winning ways again. It is a matter of when they will fix their act.

I feel bad for Haas, after the performance of last year I hoped they would be in position to battle with Red Bull this year. However, this is yet come to pass.

Renault oh Renault, your engine woes still haunt you, and I have a feeling that Riccardo is regretting his decision to leave Red Bull this season.

However, it is Kimi that I see has proven everyone wrong with his decision to move to Alfa Romeo. His experience has benefited the team, and giving them the value of his experience to continue to develop the car, and in time will be able to challenge for better finishes.

We move next to Azerbaijan. The narrow corners will prove challenging and I will be waiting for the safety car, as was the case in previous years, and see how teams will benefit for this.

See you on the 26th of April. Till then, drive safe.

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