Formula One : Shanghai Surprise

Formula One was reborn today in Shanghai, with fans arguably being treated to a spectacle not seen since the Turbo Era – a race. Fantastically entertaining and beyond the usual treat of a race between two drivers, the pack was let loose and it was anyone’s guess during the middle period as to where this race was going.

Rosberg continued his climb up the batting order as the Mercedes improves; young Nico ahead of team grand master Schumacher and even looking like a race winner during the third quarter. His pass on Massa at lap 29 was a thing of beauty – and against an almost-World Champion who is back at the top of his game, despite the lacklustre Ferrari.

Having missed the qualifying, I had written off Mark Webber, starting in 18th, but it is so easy to forget the drive that the Aussie battler brings to the Red Bull, despite unreliable KERS and a dwindling advantage in sheer top-end speed over the McLarens and Mercedes. A cracking scrap through the field and then a wonderful little to and fro with Rosberg on lap 52 brought Webber to 4th with 2 laps to go and challenging Button. With fresher tyres and the scariest pit radio message ever to Jensen that Mark was behind him and faster, the inevitable happened. The storming Red Bull driver took Button just before the entrance to the final lap, assisted by the complex activation rules of the DRS system. Possibly one of the formula one performances of recent years, Webber deservedly joined his teammate on the podium, behind Hamilton.

McLaren can be quite pleased despite a pit gaff from Button which saw him lose the lead, having had a dream start with both cars leapfrogging Red Bull in decisive style. Lewis had to race his teammate and we were treated to a passing manoeuvre which was fairly chaste (presumably under team orders not to take each other out) but exciting nonetheless.

So despite looking a little ragged, Red Bull still managed to get both cars on the podium after a herculean drive by Mark Webber. Lewis Hamilton worked extremely hard to come back at the better form of his teammate, and with his race start in doubt from a flooded engine, his mental game is showing a real maturity not always evident in earlier seasons.

The challenge came to the TV coverage too with the BBC conceding defeat early on in the battle for keeping tabs on where the race was going. This takes nothing away from the BBC’s performance which is refreshed this season by dropping the lame Legard in favour of Coulthard working with old lag Brundle in the commentary box. Great stuff and hard to fault the work done by Auntie or even the local TV coordinators in trying to keep the coverage pointed at the key points of interest – there were so many.

Keep an eye out for newcomer Brit Paul Di Resta who is showing great promise with Force India and showing the incumbent Adrian Sutil how its done.

Wonderful. What a season to look forwards to.