Button makes tyre call to win damp race
Jenson Button has made yet another correct tyre call on a damp Shangai track. When most changed to inters, the World Champion kept his tyres and went on to win the Chinese GP. Lewis Hamilton helped McLaren secure a 1-2 finish, ahead of Rosberg and Alonso.
Light drizzle worried the teams ahead of the start of the Chinese GP, and it turn out that rain increased during the warmup lap. By that time everybody on the grid was about to start its race with the dry tyres.
As soon as the lights went out Alonso fired away like a canonball in what immediately looked as a jumpstart. He charged around the outside of Vettel to the lead of the race. Webber also managed to make his way past Vettel to take second place.
A the end of the back straight however, Liuzzi lost the rear end of his car and took Buemi and Kobayashi out with his. Both Virgin cars are also not participating anymore. Di Grassi was planned to start from the pitlane, while Glock as stuck on the grid as the team forgot to lower the front of his car, making it unable for him to start.
As a result of this crash, the safety car was deployed and many of cars went in the pits to change to intermediate tyres. Alonso, Hamilton, Webber and Vettel were only few of them that chose to switch, a move that turned out badly for Vettel as he had to queue for a stop behind Webber.
The inters proved efficient immediately, but as they are a softer compound than last year, they quickly wore out. 2 laps later, many are pitting again to change back to the dry tyres.
Fernando Alonso did the same but also server a drive through penalty amidst the fuss for jumping his start.
15 laps into the race, Nico Rosberg is leading the field, ahead of Jenson Button and Robert Kubica. Petrov is fourth. These four have all chosen not to pit in the first lap and look set for a very very strong race result.
Pedro De La Rosa did just the same but was unfortunate to suffer yet another engine failure, rendering all the work useless.
In 5th place is then Michael Schumacher. He did switch to inters but he then switched back to dries one lap earlier than everybody else, hence limiting the damage. Lewis Hamilton is 6th, ahead of Vettel, Webber, Sutil and Alguersuari.
3 laps later Hamilton makes his was past Schumacher after a beautiful fight. Schumacher really put up a great defence by taking the inside line 2 times at the back straight and then carefully negotiating the hairpin. However, what took Hamilton 3 laps takes Vettel just half a lap. The first attempt on the straight is succesful as he basically drove side by side with Schumacher all through the straight and solidly kept the inside of the hairpin.
On lap 19 Button takes the lead from Rosberg. Rosberg went off half a lap earlier due to increased rain and lost his 5 second advantage over Button. The Briton then made use of his McLaren's better top speed to take the lead.
On lap 20 lots of drivers are again stopping, everybody switching to inters again.
One lap later the safety car is out again, as Alguersuari broke his front wing. Basically there was only minor debris on the track, but still that was judged enough to justify neutralising the race.
Behind the SC are now in first place Button, with behind him Rosberg, Kubica, Petrov, Schumacher, Webber, Hamilton, Vettel, Sutil and Alonso. The latter managed to get past his teammate by diving into the pitlane on the inside of Massa, literally pushing his teammate to the outside of the sharp left hander.
The rain has picked up even more and as the safety car left the circuit, Webber went wide in the last corner ahead before the finish line after being pushed to the outside by Hamilton. The trouble really found its origin with Button as he chose to drastically slow down when in preparation fot he race rastart.
5 laps later, Button is still comfortably ahead of Rosberg. Hamilton has moved up to third position by that time, followed by Kubica and Petrov. Alonso is now 6th, ahead of Vettel, Sutil, Schumacher and Massa.
On lap 34 Petrov goes on the throttle too early and spins off the track, allowing Alonso and Vettel to get past easily. The Russian is able to rejoin the track just ahead of Sutil.
One lap later Hamilton is right on the tail of Rosberg, but 3 laps and several passing attempts later Hamilton chooses to pit for new intermediates, just like Webber does. Button follows one lap later as it is clear that the intermediates have worn out completely that threads are non existant. Many of the others follow quickly as they realise they will be unable to continue another 20 laps on the same tyres.
14 more laps of the 56 to go and McLaren looks set for a 1-2 finish. Button is 3 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Hamilton is actually quicker than the leader, and together they are pulling away from the rest of the field.
Vitaly Petrov meanwhile is charging up the field again. After passing Michael Schumacher he is now quickly closing in on Webber, gaining about 2 seconds per lap. With 2 laps to go, Petrov is right under the rear wing of Webber. The Russian Renault driver has managed to keep his inters in much better shape than just about anybody else. Half a lap later, Webber just lacks arguments and loses out to Petrov. Renault is now 5th and 7th, another solid finish.
McLaren though have a brilliant 1-2 finish in the bag, thanks to supreme drives of both their drivers.