Tidying up all the odds and ends from the Shanghai paddock after qualifying on Saturday, Michael Lamonato brings you his end-of-day notebook.

– Ferrari locked out the front row for the second time in succession for the first time in the hybrid era, with Sebastian Vettel pipping Kimi Raikkonen in the final sector of their final laps.

– Sauber's Charles Leclerc almost lost control of the car when he ran wide out of the last turn in the final minutes of Q1. It was reminiscent of a similar error made by Antonio Giovinazzi this time last year save that the Monegasque driver saved it.

- The incident did however bring out yellow flags that ruined Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson's qualifying lap, also resulting in a penalty for the Swede after he failed to slow down enough in response. Ericsson received a five-place grid penalty that has no effect given he qualified last, and also picked up three penalty points on his FIA Super Licence.

– For the third race in a row McLaren was the slowest Renault-powered team, with both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne failing to outqualify any of the Renault or Red Bull Racing drivers (in Bahrain both started ahead of Max Verstappen, but the Dutchman failed to set a Q2 time after crashing in Q1).

– Mercedes and Ferrari had their drivers qualify in Q2 on the soft-compound tyre, meaning all four will start the race on the yellow-striped compound. Both Red Bull Racing drivers will start from the third row of the grid on the ultrasofts, which will set up a fascinating strategic battle for the podium.

– The midfield will similarly be pitted against itself on tyres, with both Force India’s Sergio Perez and Haas’s Romain Grosjean starting on the ultrasoft in the top 10 but their respective teammate Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen starting from P12 and P11 with free tyre choice.

– Adding in an extra twist, Pirelli has predicted a one-stop ultrasoft-medium strategy to be the fastest way to finish the race, with a two-stop ultrasoft-ultrasoft-medium strategy coming in a close second. The one-stop soft-medium strategy apparently more favoured before qualifying is ranked third-quickest.

– Earlier in the day, Daniel Ricciardo’s car was up on jacks at the start of FP3 with concerns for the gearbox, but the problem was rectified to send him out just before the halfway mark.

– That was the least of his problems, however, as after just three laps his Renault-powered RB14 suffered a spectacular power unit failure triggered by the turbocharger. The Australian had already taken his second control electronics and energy store — the maximum allowed for the season — and had now taken a new internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H (maximum of three per driver) and his final MGU-K.

– Making matters worse for Red Bull Racing, Max Verstappen complained of losing speed every time he pushed the engine towards the limiter. He said over team radio that it was a similar problem to one he experienced in Azerbaijan last year, where he retired from the race with a power unit failure. It didn’t

– Further woe for Renault: both works cars installed new MGU-H units during FP3, meaning Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg have only one new MGU-H each for the rest of the season before attracting penalties.

– Drivers running wide thanks to the blustery conditions risked getting onto the astroturf, which was still soaked from the overnight thunderstorm. Lewis Hamilton was a high-profile example, completing a number of pirouettes at turn 10, badly flat-spotting his tyres.

– Kevin Magnussen had rear brake problems (that old Haas chestnut) during FP3.  Flames spurted from his rear wheels after he spun on some wet astroturf, and he was required to return to the pit for extinguishing.

– On Friday Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene told the FIA press conference that it was up to the team’s chairman, Sergio Marchionne, to comment on Liberty Media’s proposed changes for 2021, and Saturday started with the AFP quoting Italian media reports that Marchionne told shareholders his threat to quit the sport was still live. “We are working with Liberty Media to find acceptable solutions,” Marchionne said.

Comments

Loading Comments...