The Chinese Grand Prix…Live on Twitter

Posted: April 16, 2012 by thevillainf1 in 2012 Grand Prix reviews - Live on twitter

I’m going to try and do something a little different from all the other race reviews you read on F1 blogs and make a pseudo review highlighting the major themes I identified in the race by using the live tweets made for and by the backmarkers F1 crowd during the Grand Prix. I’m not using tweets from the big shots or teams (unless they’re hilarious, dumb, or essential to telling the GP’s story) but tweets made by you and me, the backmarkersF1 crowd. Twitter has made it easy to engage between simple F1 fans like us, so why not reconstruct the race through our tweets?

Let me kick this off by saying: what a race!! What a season we have gotten ourselves into in 2012! It’s the best of 2010 and 2011 combined:

For the third race in a row we saw a different winner, with the only consistency being Lewis Hamilton who’s secured the third step on the podium every time. Rosberg’s maiden victory in Shanghai could not be laden with more fun and historical stats. Nico is the third son of a former F1 driver to win a GP after Villeneuve and Hill – and both his predecessors went on to win a championship- He grabbed his 1st pole and his 1st 1 st place finish in his 111th Grand Prix, It was Mercedes’ first win as a manufacturer since Fangio in 1955.

This win must have made statistics nuts jizz in their pants! It could have been even better had Schumacher’s pitcrew not made that mistake as judging by the Mercedes pace this was his best shot yet to get that much desired comeback podium. While it is difficult to say what would have happened, he did not seem to be able to hold on to Rosberg in the first stint, so it’s doubtful he would have made it past his teammate for the win. He clearly wasn’t driving slower to preserve his tyres as unusually (being the lead driver normally Rosberg had pit priority) he pitted before his teammate. Nonetheless this retirement was only a small damper on Norbert Haug’s enthusiasm, who must have started feeling the pressure from HQ after 2 lackluster years having taken over the 2009 constructors champion.

Judging by our very own backmarkersF1 predictions post very few people  were expecting the Mercs to do good in the race after a 1-2 in qualifying (considering Lewis’ grid penalty), with the car having struggled immensely on Sundays during the first two GPs.

Slowly but surely it started to sink in that Rosberg was not just going to fall back into the clutches of the chasing pack, as he was in fact even steadily building his lead over his teammate and the Mclaren of Button. On lap 10 he had already eked out a 6 second gap and showed no sign of tyre woes, even as his competitors started pitting –reacting to Webber’s very aggressive early pit stop on lap 8 – Rosberg stayed out the longest of all the top drivers. I could barely believe it: the car known for the past 2 seasons for munching up its tyres was staying out the longest and staying on a very strong pace. “Brawn has done it” was flashing through my mind.

While Rosberg drove fantastically and it was great to see the Mercs finally get on top of their tyre issues, the stars did align perfectly for Rosberg. His teammate got eliminated early on after the pistop error – something yours truly was quick to note I might add. While early on in the race, nobody managed to threaten Schumacher’s lollipop man and right rear mechanic for the  Backmarkers F1 ‘Facepalm of the Race’ title.

The early stop by Red Bull forced the other guys in the chasing pack to react and stop earlier than they probably intended, creating a nice buffer for Rosberg and the Brawn strategists who kept a a cool head by sticking to the two stopper despite some vehement disagreement from a few tweeps.

This clashed with the strategy of other 2 stoppers further back like Massa and Perez, who subsequently seriously held up the chasing pack as they came charging back through on fresher tyres. Ferrari especially finally found a use for Felipe Massa as Nando’s roadblock as he easily (and perfectly understandably) let Nando past while badly holding up the likes of Hamilton before his first pitstop.

The same happened as Massa had come in on his second stop when he made us all forget about Trulli and create the ‘Massa train’ , further cementing Rosberg’s victory by holding up a pack of like 8 cars and allowing Rosberg to get a full pitstop ahead, one of the largest gaps we’ve seen in recent F1 history. For a car with slow top speed  reportedly one of its biggest weaknesses, the Ferrari held up remarkably well in the DRS zone as it took people a few laps to pass roadblock Felipe.

Once they had cleared Massa, a struggling Raikkonen tried to stay ahead of the pack for a while until his tyres fell of the proverbial cliff everybody keeps talking about but which we rarely see. This may have sent some alrm bells going off in Vettelµs cockpit, another 2 stopper.

The constant bickering in the pack also made sure that Rosberg did not need to push very hard as everybody was losing time dicing it out behind him. Rosberg was all but guaranteed victory when his final remaining challenger Button saw Mclaren make yet another pit error (seriously they need to get this sorted as the amount of errors at the Mclaren pits is unacceptable for a top team) which dropped him into the Felipe train which he would have otherwise cleared comfortably to go chase after Nico.

Indeed in many ways it was a perfect storm for Rosberg, but that does not take anything away from a well deserved victory. You make your own luck in F1, and had he not opened up that gap in the first stint he would not have been in the comfortable position which allowed him to ignore Webbo’s early stop whereas others couldn’t for fear of the undercut. All this led to a dominant first win for a Mercedes, and I doubt many people in the paddock and fans at home would have taken it away from ‘Britney’.

To top it all off, we saw Vettel suffer late in the race as Button, Hamilton and Webbo cruised past him. For  Mark it must have been a wonderful feeling to put the ‘maintain the gap’ ghosts behind him as he took his teammate on the inside of the hairpin in the dying moments of the race.

Does this win now  mean Mercedes has suddenly become a serious title challenger? I think it’s a good possibility, however the field is so tightly matched this year that it is still anybody’s championship. If we disregard Rosberg’s alien quali lap which put him half a second ahead of the rest, the top ten is covered by a second. That used to be the gap from p1 to p4! At one point in q2 the gap from P1 to p16 was a mere second, meaning the slightest of errors could leave you in the drop zone, which is exactly what happened to Vettel.

While last year Felipe could sort of hide his abysmal performances with the Ferrari’s huge pace advantage over its nearest competitor Mercedes, nowadays what would have been his usual 6th on the grid right behind his teammate can easily become 11th or lower, 5 or more spots behind Nando which is exactly what’s happening nowadays. The 3 tenths he is slower than Alonso may satisfy Felipe and Smedley, but in this field three tenths can be  the difference between getting into Q1 or dropping out in Q3.

We should also not forget how important finding the tyres’ sweet spot is this year. We saw a Ferrari on top while the Sauber was the fastest car in Malaysia, in Australia the Mclaren’s were untouchable and in China a Mercedes ran away with it.. I guess that does mean Rosberg – and Schumacher who’s been driving well but has been horribly unlucky- do have a shot at this year’s WDC but so do the Mclarens, Red Bulls, Lotuses, even Saubers…and never disregard Nando! The Mclaren still looks like overall the fastest and  most consistent package so I would not bet against a Mclaren title, but they need to stay on their toes if they are to clinch that coveted WDC for one of their drivers. Which one? That’s food for another post…..

  1. Anonymous says:

    “I guess that does mean Rosberg – and Schumacher who’s been driving well but has been horribly unlucky- do have a shot at this year’s WDC but so do the Mclarens, Red Bulls, Lotuses, even Saubers…and never disregard Nando!”

    Nando is the hyper-talent right now, he’s at his very best (I think twitter has made him happier xD), and he’s 8 points away on a car in which Massa has 0, so he’s probably the most deserving driver right now to be up there! 😉
    Only Hamilton, Webber and Nando have scored points in all 3 races, so they seem to be the consistent bunch, especially Hamilton’s 3-3-3 and Webbo’s 4-4-4! Alonso has to find the consistency he can right now, and then, after Barcelona, get into a good rythm. He’s got the talent, and the speed, can he please get the car!? xD
    Massa’s 18th in the WDC, the last guy before the backmarkers, and the only one without a point (excluding the bm’s), drop him, please.

  2. Interesting twist on the traditional review format, So far I’ve watched the race three times and can’t get enough, some superb overtakes and defensive driving. I think Rosberg can get better and better after this confidence boost and if Schumi can get some luck they could well finish ahead of Red Bull in the constructors championship.

  3. David says:

    Is there a podcast coming? A china review/bahrain preview. I love your podcasts!

  4. Matt Ruda says:

    Prepare yourselves. A new podcast is coming….

    in about 48 hours. It should of been out tonight, but I had to delay it because academic shit came up. Should have it recorded tomorrow, released Wednesday.

  5. Anonymous says:

    it was the right front wheel, not the right rear wheel which was not screwed on……you can see it clearly, I gues yours truly saw that immediately but just typed it wrong….LOL

  6. Gerdt says:

    Great take on reviewing a race.

  7. I really like this style of recapping a race. You could add more tweets concerning the whole weekend (practice, quali) if there are any good ones out there.

    Looking forward to the Bahrain GP edition!

  8. […] The Chinese Grand Prix…Live on Twitter […]

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