2017 Chinese Grand Prix Review: Kimi Raikkonen & Ferrari

Shanghai was the scene of the second round of 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship. The major talking points were:

  • Sebastian Vettel’s questionable starting position
  • The first ever implementation of the standing start procedure after circulating for a few laps behind the safety car in damp conditions
  • Kimi Raikkonen and his relationship with Ferrari, with his team’s refusal to pit him at least five laps earlier for his second tyre stop. It almost certainly costed him P3 and the sight of Sergio Marchionne and Maurizio Arrivabene calling for talks over his form was extremely unpalatable
  • Valtteri Bottas’ laughable spin behind the second safety car
  • Antonio Giovinazzi crashing twice: first in Q1 and second on lap 4 in the race
  • Ferrari SF70H’s optimum operating range clearly being in hotter, sunny conditions
  • FIA succeeding in their criterion of implementing racing which consisted of higher quality, instead of higher quantity, of overtakes, particularly in the non-DRS zone around Turn 6
  • The late race Red Bull battle between hard-chargers Max Verstappen & Daniel Ricciardo
  • A dominant, composed drive from Lewis Hamilton
  • Kevin Magnussen’s surprise result of P8.

2017 Chinese Grand Prix Team-Mates Wars/ Winners & Losers

In F1 the first driver you must beat is your team-mate.

FERRARI

Sebastian Vettel (P2) 2-0

Drove as well as ever, although might have had a realistic chance to win if Ferrari had called Kimi to pull over earlier. WINNER 9/10

Kimi Raikkonen (P5) 0-2 DRIVER OF THE DAY

Screwed over by his strategists, who should have pitted him at least five laps earlier for his 2nd pit stop. Drove valiantly under the circumstances. WINNER 9/10

MERCEDES

Lewis Hamilton (P1) 2-0

Won pole and won the race easily. WINNER 9/10

Valtteri Bottas (P6) 0-2 REJECT OF THE DAY

A poor start was exacerbated by the Finn embarrassingly spinning during a safety car period. His fightback was staunch, but his race was one of damage limitation. LOSER 3/10

RED BULL

Daniel Ricciardo (P4) 2-0

After two tricky initial stints, a tweak to his front wing allowed the Aussie to catch his young team-mate, but to no avail. WINNER 7/10

Max Verstappen (P3) 0-2

A wet start saw the Dutchman fly through the field in the opening laps, so his starting spot of P16 proved irrelevant. WINNER 7/10

FORCE INDIA

Sergio Perez (P9) 2-0 WINNER 7/10

Esteban Ocon (P10) 0-2 WINNER 7/10

WILLIAMS

Felipe Massa (P14) 2-0

In spite of a strong qualifying position of P6, the veteran struggled for pace. Williams appear to have a chassis that has raw pace, but is lacking drivability. LOSER 4/10

Lance Stroll (RET, Collision) 0-2

The young French-Canadian has a lot to learn in F1 and it showed on lap 1, when he collided with Sergio Perez. His immediate retirement left him plenty to reflect on weekend where despite breaking Q3 for the first time, his qualifying pace eroded over the hour paradoxically. Remains half a second slower than Massa. LOSER 3/10

MCLAREN

Fernando Alonso (RET, Driveshaft) 2-0

Retaining a sunny disposition, the grizzled Spaniard drove in his words, “Even better than Melbourne”, but once again his tools failed him. WINNER 9/10

Stoffel Vandoorne (RET, Fuel Pressure) 0-2

Wasn’t able to show his full potential with an early departure from the race. With an ill-handling chassis and unresponsive power unit, the young Belgian still trails Alonso half a second per lap. LOSER 4/10

TORO ROSSO

Carlos Sainz (P7) 2-1

A dodgy start on slicks was exacerbated by a spin, where his recovery saw him tag the outer barrier. Luckily his suspension remained intact, so his determined drive to P7 proved his status as a star of the future. WINNER 8/10

Daniil Kvyat (RET, Hydraulics) 1-2

Early retirement meant the Russian had no chance. Outqualifying Sainz and breaking Q3 is move in the right direction. LOSER 5/10

HAAS

Romain Grosjean (P11) 1-1

Never looked comfortable all weekend. LOSER 4.5/10

Kevin Magnussen (P8) 1-1

An exemplary performance from the mercurial Dane. WINNER 7.5/10

RENAULT

Nico Hulkenberg (P12) 2-0

A brilliant performance in qualifying was scuppered by poor strategy. LOSER 5/10

Jolyon Palmer (P13) 0-2

Considering the fact that the Briton is almost a second slower per lap than Hulkenberg, it can be viewed as a positive he finished one positioned behind the German. LOSER 5/10

SAUBER

Marcus Ericsson (P15) (1-1 vs. GIO)

Meh. LOSER 4/10

Antonio Giovinazzi (RET, Crash) (1-1 vs. ERI)

Crash once and you’ve made a mistake, but crash twice and you’re careless. Not a good way to entice opportunities for a race seat in the coming future. LOSER 3/10

Chinese Grand Prix Winners & Losers

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes (P1)

An impeccable performance from start to finish. Every driver who has won the first three races of a season has become world champion and Nico Rosberg’s win streak extends to six Grands Prix. What made Rosberg’s path to victory was his use of soft compounds to achieve his pole lap, allowing him to build a sizeable lead by his first pit stop on lap 20. He also achieved the fastest lap for the medium compound runs and the second fastest lap on the softs.

Winners

Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull (P3)

The young Russian drove a composed race en route to P3, despite complaints towards the end of the race via radio. He dealt with Vettel’s post race confrontation over the first corner incident in an incredibly mature and admirable manner. After all, Kvyat took a fair opportunity down the inside of turn 1 and never made contact with Vettel, so therefore cannot be held culpable for the German hitting his Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull (P4)

The foxy Australian arguably drove an even better race than his young Russian team-mate, retaining an immeasurable level of panache after his early puncture. It sadly robbed viewers of a tasty fight between Ricciardo and Rosberg for the victory, but the Honey Badger’s overtakes on Massa and Hamilton was impressive regardless.

Felipe Massa, Williams (P6)

A steady and solid drive from the Brazilian veteran.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (P7)

The Briton did the best he could in trying circumstances, after incurring a five grid drop for his gearbox change, followed by his early exit from yesterday’s qualifying due to power unit issues. Whilst his high flying team-mate Rosberg continues his domination at the front of the grid, Hamilton demonstrated Mercedes’ acute handling deficiencies when following the dirty air of other cars. Damage limitation was the end result for Hamilton.

REJECT OF THE RACE

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari (P2)

Seb’s pathetic attempt to attach the blame towards Kyvat was childish and desperate. In hindsight, Vettel could have slowed down further when the Russian attempted his dive in turn 1, but Vettel could have too avoided dramatically steering left and smashing Raikkonen’s rear end. What is said during Ferrari’s post-race debrief will be a harbinger of Ferrari’s title challenge.

Losers

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (P5)

In true Iceman style, Kimi refused to designate blame onto his rivals for the turn 1 incident, but one could opine his friendship with Vettel could hold the Finn back severely in his title challenge. Now is the time for Kimi to be counted and not back down against the Scuderia hierarchy.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams (P10)

The highly touted successor to Kimi’s seat at Ferrari drove another anonymous race.

Force India (Perez, P11 & Hulkenberg, P15)

Another underwhelming weekend for the Silverstone-based squad. Pre-season testing proved to be a huge false dawn.

Felipe Nasr, Sauber (P20)

What has happened to this Brazilian hotshot? Nasr completely dominated Ericsson for the majority of last season, but this season he appears to have been caught cold by Sauber’s underfunded C35 chassis.

Jolyon Palmer, Renault (P22)

In what was only the fourth Grand Prix to have all its starters reach the chequered flag in F1 history (excluding 2005 United States Grand Prix), Palmer had a catastrophically bad weekend. The 25 year old Briton earns the dubious honour of joining Hans Hermann & Narain Karthikeyan (who has achieved this twice) of finishing last in a race with no retirements or withdrawals. To make matters worse, Palmer finished behind Rio Haryanto, who had been highly touted at the start of the season to be one of the worst drivers in F1 history. Very worrying indeed.

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DRIVERS/TEAMS OF THE DAY TALLY

Romain Grosjean X2 (Australia & Bahrain)

Haas X1 (Australia)

Nico Rosberg X1 (China)

REJECTS OF THE DAY TALLY

F1 authorities X1 (Australia)

Williams X1 (Bahrain)

Sebastian Vettel X1 (China)