Tuesday 20 February 2018 / 11:05 AM


The second Formula 1 event of the year was at the fast Shanghai track in China. The track sports the longest straight of all the F1 circuits with some very tricky slow sections, which ensures all cars get benefits at some point on the track.

Both practice sessions on Day 1 were heavily impacted by a combination of low lying cloud, smog and rain which prevented a medical helicopter from landing at the nearby Shanghai airport. This meant that the safety requirements could not be met and therefore no racing could take place until this could be rectified. In the end 20 minutes of driving in Free Practice 1 was completed, however Practice 2 was completely abandoned.

Lewis Hamilton led calls to ensure all three practice sessions could be run, but that was refused due to the fact the third race is scheduled for just days’ time. On Saturday, all of Practice session 3 was completed.

Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein was again absent due to a neck injury he sustained in January, which had kept him out of the Australian Grand Prix. Antonio Giovinazzi took his place once again.

Qualifying produced a few surprises. Max Verstappen’s Red Bull had engine misfiring problems. These were rectified just in time for him to set a few hot laps. With a hot lap and a sighter lap, which was two seconds off the pace, he began his hot lap, but before he could finish, Giovinazzi crashed which brought out the yellow flags, ending everyone’s session.

Verstappen’s time saw him qualify in 19th place and miss Q2 and Q3. Romain Grosjean and Jolyon Palmer were both penalised for not slowing down and pulling out of their hot laps, which saw them cop a five grid place penalty each.

The Ferraris dominated Q2 with Kimi Raikkonen breaking Michael Schumacher’s fastest lap record from 2004. His record lasted until the end of Q3 when he was one of four drivers to better the record. Hamilton claimed pole from Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Raikkonen.

While the rain had gone and the track was almost complete dry, there were still a few damp spots on the main straight. Giovinazzi caught one of these and crashed into the wall ending his race early. Hamilton led the race from the start but found himself being reined in over the closing stages of the race by Vettel.

Bottas had an embarrassing departure from the track while trying to warm his tyres under the safety car, which saw him lose several places. He fought back valiantly to finish in sixth place. Raikkonen had issues with his power unit but completed his race, unable to get past the Red Bulls.

Verstappen has continued to improve his racecraft and is fast becoming one of the best defenders and also the hardest to defend against. He ran third with his team mate Daniel Ricciardo finishing less than a second behind him. It was a stunning performance from Verstappen who started at 16th on the grid.

Esteban Ocon finished in 10th place again, another good result given he started 17th on the grid.

Final Standings (Top 10)

1 – Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 – Vettel (Ferrari)
3 – Verstappen (Red Bull)
4 – Ricciardo (Red Bull)
5 – Raikkonen (Ferrari)
6 – Bottas (Mercedes)
7 – Sainz (Toro Rosso)
8 – Magnussen (Haas)
9 – Perez (Force India)
10 – Ocon (Force India)

Drivers Championship

=1 – Vettel – 43
=1 – Hamilton – 43
3 – Verstappen – 25
4 – Bottas – 23
5 – Raikkonen – 22
6 – Ricciardo – 12
7 – Sainz – 10
=8 – Massa – 8
=8 – Perez – 8
10 – Magnussen – 4
=11 – Kvyat – 2
=11 – Ocon – 2

Constructors Championship

1 – Mercedes – 66
2 – Ferrari – 65
3 – Red Bull – 37
4 – Toro Rosso – 12
5 – Force India – 10
6 – Williams – 8
7 – Haas – 4

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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