Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What We Learned: China 2011

Having watched Sunday's race through a haze of small children and pain medication, I may not be especially coherent.
  • Red Bull isn't invincible: Somehow Vettel found himself unable to fend off Hamilton's McLaren at the end of the race, having wrung the life out of his tires at that point.
  • Qualifying poorly may be a tactical advantage: Too bad that Webber and the team got the qualifying dance wrong, with Webber lining up 18th. But Webber put on a clinic on how to put to good use all the available, unused option tires he had available as a result. Definitely the drive of the day.
  • Strange Strategies: the teams at the front which deviated from the expected two stop race (ie McLaren, Webber, Mercedes) all fared better on balance than the teams that did the expected (which actually is just Vettel and the Ferraris). Massa and Vettel were out front with only a handful to go, but their tires were done and they were powerless to resist those which caught them. In Massa's case, he slid all the way back to 6th, as Hamilton, Webber, Button, and Rosberg all steamed by and was still only 15 seconds back of winner Hamilton at the flag.
  • Alonso brings up the rear again: For the third event in a row, Massa finished the first lap in front of his team leader. Massa seems to be either getting luckier than Alonso is right now -- or he is just better at making his own luck.
  • Another DRS fault for Alonso: While not exactly in his favor, at least it wasn't to his detriment the way it was last week in Malaysia. Ferrari has some work to do with this system still.
  • Faster cars burn more fuel: or so Mercedes has learned with Rosberg's car. Rosberg had to go into serious fuel consumption management during part of the race or would have risked running out.
  • Whither Renault? After impressing at the first two stops, the Renault cars did not impress the way some had expected in China. Time will tell if this is merely a case of the rest of the field developing while Renault stands still, or if the Renault car is going to turn into a specialist for some types of circuits.