During preliminaries and qualifications on Friday and Saturday, the conditions at the Shanghai F1 circuit were quite wet. The rain-soaked track was quite drenched during the Q1 but it had improved by the time Q2 began. Sebastian Vettel was on record stating that the wet weather suited Red Bull better. But when the races began yesterday, dry conditions prevailed at Shanghai. Regardless of unfavorable conditions, Lewis Hamilton secured his third pole position of the 2014 season. It was the 34th time that Hamilton has secured the pole position and in doing so, he surpassed the legendary Briton Jim Clark. While Hamilton is now the new record holder for British drivers, in the international arena, he is still fourth behind three other drivers, who have had more pole positions and they are; Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna and Sebastian Vettel. Of these, only Vettel is active but the way Hamilton has been going in recent times, he poses a threat to the world champion driver.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo has displayed undying spirit this season, what with his now famous disappointment at Melbourne. He has overcome most hurdles and finished second behind Hamilton on the pole with team-mate Vettel close behind. Before the main event, FIA’s full judgment was published, which settled the case about Ricciardo’s fateful ouster from the podium at Melbourne for violating fuel flow regulations. The court pronounced that Ricciardo’s exceeding the fuel-flow limits was not deliberate. The court verdict also added that there were technical issues in the first official race of the season with new engine technology and therefore, Red Bull’s and Ricciardo’s actions were not considered fraudulent. While it would attract no further penalties, the Red Bull team was asked to pay the costs.
Before the Shanghai GP began on Sunday, the final line-up was Hamilton; Ricciardo; Vettel, Rosberg; Alonso, Massa; Bottas, Hulkenberg; Vergne, Grosjean; Raikkonen, Button; Kvyat, Sutil; Magnussen, Perez; Gutierrez, Kobayashi; Bianchi, Ericsson; Chilton and Maldonado.
Mercedes have won all GPs this season and Lewis Hamilton has been in great form. Just as the race began, Hamilton raced away with great momentum and though Vettel got past Ricciardo, he was still many seconds behind Hamilton. Since the weather became drier, Red Bull’s possible wet-condition advantage was effectively nullified. While Vettel was doing his best to close the gap behind Hamilton, he was still quite far behind, as the Briton had created a huge lead. Then Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso overtook Vettel to take the second position. Two drivers suffered on account of machine problems at this stage. Adrian Sutil was forced to leave the track because he had a gear problem and Felipe Massa suffered, as Williams mechanics struggled with fresh tyres on his car. Massa dropped to 21st position as a result and at the end of the race finished 15th. Meanwhile, on lap 17, Hamilton made his pit stop with more than half-a-minute’s lead over Alonso. He was out of pits in a jiffy, and when he joined the circuit back, he was still ahead of Alonso. After the 20th lap, there was a neck to neck battle between Vettel and Rosberg for the third spot and finally Rosberg prevailed. Vettel dropped to fourth place with team-mate Ricciardo not far too far behind. At this point the conflict of interests between Red Bull team managers and their drivers; Vettel and Ricciardo came to the fore for the second time in the 2014 season. Just as Ricciardo and Vettel were locked in battle for the fourth spot, the team management ordered Vettel to make way for Ricciardo at the 25th lap. Vettel was reluctant but he had to oblige. Technology intervention was the cause since both team-mates were on identical medium-compound tyres and they had similar two-stop strategies.
However, there was no stopping Hamilton, who stayed way ahead of the rest of the drivers and won his third consecutive race without any trouble. Also for the third successive race, Nico Rosberg finished second. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took the third spot from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo with team-mate Vettel dropping to the fifth spot. Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was sixth and following him were Williams’ Valtteri Botta, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, Force India’s Sergio Perez and STR-Renault’s Daniil Kvyat to complete the first 10 in the season’s fourth GP.