Kimi Raikkonen ‘nose’ what he’s doing at 2013 Chinese Grand Prix

Chinese GP 2013 (7)An exciting race at the Chinese Grand Prix saw Kimi Raikkonen come in second place behind Fernando Alonso and ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Reigning champion Sebastian Vettel couldn’t make it to a podium finish as he was outraced by Hamilton in a steady fashion towards the end

Constant turns and twists tested the mettle of drivers and strategy used by them to negate tyre wear and tear. Alonso and Raikkonen who started the race with soft tyres made and early stops unlike Vettel who came in with only five laps to go. This strategy employed by the Infiniti Red Bull team allowed Vettel to determinedly fight for a third place finish but alas it wasn’t to be so, as Hamilton cut ahead to clinch the spot.

Mark Webber didn’t have much luck as after starting out from the pit lane the front wing of his car was damaged when he tried to overtake Jean-Eric Vergne. He returned to the pits but was forced to retire after his right rear wheel came off. Sebastian Vettel leads the drivers’ championship table with Kimi Raikkonen only 3 points behind the leader. On the team front, Infiniti Red Bull Racing leads with Ferrari and Lotus behind the in the constructors’ title countdown at present. Romain Grosjean ensured the 2nd Lotus F1 Team finished in 9th place. Race day saw Renault engined teams take home 32 points.

Williams F1 Team drivers Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas finish in 13th, and 14th place with a time difference of 1.6 secs between both racers. It was a 3 stop race strategy for the team with Pastor starting on the soft option tyre and Valtteri starting on the prime, and the option for his last run. Caterham-Renault had a close battle with the Marussia team. Charles Pic finished in 16th, and Giedo van der Garde in 18th, while Marussias drivers of Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton finishing in 15th and 17th place.

Car 1 Sebastian Vettel, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 9th said, “After the last stop, the team told me there was quite a big gap to the cars ahead, but also a big gap behind, so we thought we should go for it in the closing stages. When I came on to the long straight and saw Lewis at the other end turning into the hair pin I thought ‘well, that’s a bit too far’, but obviously we had much more speed on the fresher tyres. It was a little bit disappointing to lose out by such a tiny bit; a few corners more and we could have tried something. Nonetheless, our strategy seemed to work today. We knew it would be difficult and that it was crucial to get clean laps, but we didn’t in the first stint. I was faster than Nico (Hulkenberg) but if you follow another car you lean on your front tyres too much and it was hard to find the right compromise, but overall we can be happy.”

Car 2 Mark Webber, Finish Position: DNF, Start Position: Pit lane said, “The start of the race was going okay; we elected to get rid of the soft tyre quite quickly and then came back through the field pretty well. Regarding the incident with Jean-Eric, I was coming from a reasonable distance behind, Jean-Eric was really wide, but when we came close to the apex he wanted to hit it, which he is entitled to do, but by then I was committed to the inside and the incident happened. It was a couple of laps before our pit stop window, so I had to come in early. The guys thought the tyre was fixed when we left the stop, but it came off on the out lap. We have had a few problems this weekend; I think we could have done something from our start position today, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal said, “Having opted to start the race on the prime tyre, it was always going to be a different race for us compared to the cars ahead of Sebastian. Unfortunately in the first stint, after Sebastian had passed Jenson, Hulkenberg managed to pass both Jenson and Sebastian in the DRS zone, which cost us quite a bit of time. Arguably the time lost then hurt Sebastian at the end of the race – and otherwise I am sure he would have been on the podium. But, nonetheless he drove a very strong race, managing his pace and tyres very well to come extremely close to taking the final podium place on the final lap. With Mark, having taken the opportunity to change the car significantly overnight and starting from the pit lame, we elected to stop on the first lap, change his soft tyres for the hard ones, and put him into clear air. His pace thereafter was excellent, he was coming back through the field extremely well, but unfortunately an incident with Jean-Eric Vergne caused front wing damage and a puncture. After changing the nose and all four tyres, Mark reported a problem with the right rear on the out lap, which had certainly left the pit lane fully torqued up. The right rear then came detached from the car and caused Mark to retire. Until we get the car back, it’s not possible to yet conclude the exact cause.”

Thierry Salvi, Renault said, “Shanghai is a tough circuit for the engine, with it getting a full work out on all levels with the combination of straights and low speed corners. Although the result is not ultimately what we would have hoped for coming into the weekend, finishing under half a second from the podium, with the starting positions we had, has to be positive.”