Its all Bull in Shanghai

Diagram of the Shanghai International Circuit ...
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The revitalised entertainment that is Formula One continued today in Shanghai with a superb 1-2 from the Red Bull-Renault team. Sebastian Vettel drove a superb race in very wet conditions to take the win in a new car. Having nabbed pole position and despite a rear shunt from rookie Sebastian Buemi in the Torro Rosso, Vettel continues to show that he is a driver to watch, with blossoming talent now proved in the lake-like conditions of the Chinese circuit. Great to see Mark Webber on the podium in 2nd place, with Brawn GP completing the train of rising teams as Jensen Button and Rubens Barrichello came in 3rd and 4th respectively. Jensen maintains a useful 11 point lead in the Drivers’ Championship but it is very early in the season to be making predictions on the eventual winner.

McLaren crept back into the competition with a steady 5th from Heikki Kovalainen and a racing 6th from reigning champ Lewis Hamilton. Lewis drove a determined race considering the conditions, and recovered well from several excursions, the like of which claimed many other drivers. McLaren’s relief came across in the post-race interviews, with Martin Whitmarsh having the refreshing challenge of answering questions on the race and the car, as opposed to tricks and politics.

Ferrari are yet to score with apparent electrical failure claiming Massa, and Räikkönen out of the points due to the continued mediocre performance of this season’s chassis from Maranello. Judging from his qualifying performance, veteran Alonso cannot be discounted. Another tactical faux-pas saw him take a pit stop too late in the first of 2 safety car cycles, and left too much to do to move back up the field, whilst teammate Piquet’s lack of confidence continued in his apparent poor form.

The future of the season has to be down to technical developments of the cars. Sure – this may always be the case in the modern sport but 2009 is definitely the season for the manufacturers to win or lose the championship. Not to take too much away from Button and Vettel, conditions so far have largely eliminated any advantage due to pure skill. All the teams – including Red Bull – are developing like mad following the FIA confirmation of the legality of diffuser technology which gave the apparent advantage to Brawn.

But who cares !? Despite more water than a swim meet, the initial races have proved to be mesmerising. The dry conditions in the next round in Bahrain will be extremely interesting and may give more of a guide to who has the best chance this season. FOCA and the FIA must be very pleased with how it is all going in these cash-strapped times.

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