With a final recap from the paddock at the Shanghai International Circuit, here is Michael Lamonato's notebook.

Charles Leclerc was clearly disappointed to have his race compromised by a Ferrari strategy that favoured Sebastian Vettel’s race. The team explained that the Monegasque had been used late in the race to slow down Valtteri Bottas to aid Vettel’s ultimately fruitless chase of second position. Asked if he was satisfied with the explanation, Leclerc delivered a terse, “Yeah. I mean, yeah”.

– Sebastian Vettel was clearly tired of fielding questions about his status inside the team. In response to a question about whether he would feel comfortable winning a title against a marginalised teammate, the German railed against “poor journalism” that takes his answers out of context, though he added: “I’m not a journalist to judge, so you shouldn’t take my judgement personally”.

– Winner Lewis Hamilton said his team’s advantage over Ferrari was unexpected and that he believed the Italian team “just doesn’t look like they’re extracting their full potential”.

– Valtteri Bottas in part blamed his poor start on the thick white start-finish line directly ahead of his grid box causing him too much wheelspin. The Finn said had he expected it to be so slippery, he would’ve lit up his rear tyres on the warm-up lap, but he thought nothing of it at the time.

– Having led the championship for the first time in his career after winning in Melbourne and maintaining that lead in Bahrain, Bottas has now experienced the feeling of losing the championship lead for the first time after falling to six points behind Hamilton. Verstappen is third in the standings, 23 points behind the Finn.

– Mercedes has stolen a 57-point lead over Ferrari just three rounds into the season, with RBR a further 21 points back.

– Mercedes has dropped only two points — the fastest lap points in Bahrain and China — so far this season, the first time any team has taken three one-twos to open a championship year since Williams in 1992, which the British team went on to dominate.

– Ferrari denied there were any reliability or performance concerns with its control electronics unit. Both Ferrari and both Haas cars adopted new CEs ahead of the weekend after Charles Leclerc’s Bahrain failure, but Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo suffered a CE-related problem during qualifying. Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto said he hoped Alfa Romeo would take the new part once the team overcomes “installation issues”.

Daniel Ricciardo scored his first points for Renault after his Red Bull Racing switch during the off-season. The Australian finished seventh after spending much of the race staving off Racing Point’s Sergio Perez.

Nico Hulkenberg in the sister Renault, however, recorded yet another Renault retirement when he pulled into his pit box at the end of lap 16. The problem was unspecified, but the team suspects and MGU-K-related software issue. All Renault-powered teams have already taken the first of their two permissible MGU-K upgrades for the season after both works Renaults retired with related problems late in Bahrain.

Daniil Kvyat was bitterly disappointed to be handed a drive-through penalty for his role in the first-lap crash with both McLaren drivers. The Russian said he spoke to the stewards afterwards and believed they understood that the penalty was too harsh for the incident, which he saw as nothing more than a classic first-lap chain-reaction crash.

– Alex Albon was arguably the star of the race. The Thai driver won driver of the day for rising from his pit-lane start to 10th place, which came after his heavy FP3 crash kept him in his garage for qualifying. His car required a new power unit and gearbox as part of overnight repairs.

– The battle for fastest lap again came into play in the quiet closing stages of the race. Valtteri Bottas held it for much of the race, with Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen all attempting to snatch it from him. In the end it was Pierre Gasly, with the benefit of a set of soft tyres courtesy of a late pit stop, who took home the bonus point.

– Haas had another race to forget, with Guenther Steiner ruing an inability to get heat into the tyres. Steiner admitted that his team had only uncovered the cause of the problem in the post-Bahrain test rather than the cure, which remains a work in progress.
 

Comments

Loading Comments...