Lewis Hamilton won a thrilling Chinese Grand Prix Sunday, with Sebastien Vettel second and Mark Webber a surprising third in what was a battle of pit strategies and technology.
Hamilton, driving a McLaren-Mercedes, made three pit stops for tires as compared to Vettel's two in his Red Bull-Renault and that was the deciding difference.
For the third straight race, Red Bull had difficulty with the KERS power-boost system and that was another advantage enjoyed by McLaren.
Webber was the driver of the race, driving his Red Bull from his 18th qualifying position to finish on the podium. He passed McLaren's Jenson Button on the last lap for third place.
Button, who earlier in the race pulled a bone-headed move by stopping in the Red Bull pit instead of his own, finished fourth. Other points winners were Nico Rosberg (fifth, Mercedes), Felipe Massa (sixth, Ferrari), Fernando Alonso (seventh, Ferrari), Michael Schumacher (eighth, Mercedes), Vitaly Petrov (ninth, Renault) and Kamui Kobayashi (tenth, Sauber-Ferrari).
Vettel dominates qualifying (filed Sat., April 16)
Gee, what a surprise.
Sebastien Vettel will start from pole for Sunday’s Grand Prix of China for his third straight start from the front in 2011's three races.
The 23-year-old German, driving his Red Bull-Renault racer, who will also be gunning for his third straight win.
His teammate, and one-time chief rival, Mark Webber, continued to solidify his No. 2 position at Red Bull by qualifying 18th. He didn't even make it past the first session.
Not his fault, of course, as his KERS wasn’t working again and the team left him on a hard compound rather than switch to gummier tires when they got down to the short strokes at the end of the first session.
But this would never happen to Vettel and that’s why I say Webber is now definitely the No. 2 guy. Last year, he might have been almost a co-No. 1, but not anymore.
Jenson Button qualified second in his McLaren-Mercedes, just ahead of his teammate, Lewis Hamilton. Nico Rosberg came back to life in his Mercedes for fourth on the grid while Fernando Alonso continued his – and Ferrari’s – mediocre season by qualifying fifth.
Paul Di Resta, the German Touring Car Champion, rewarded the folks at Force India for taking a chance on him by qualifying eighth. Michael Schumacher continued to ruin his legacy by dawdling around to 14th.
Things returned to normal for Nick Heidfeld. After surprising everybody, including himself, with a wonderful third-place podium finish last weekend in Malaysia, the German driver brought his Renault home in 16th qualifying position.
You can watch the Chinese GP live on TSN at 2:55 a.m. or get up in time for the repeat, also on TSN, at 8 a.m. Sunday.
Once upon a time – like, when there was a thing called the Champ Car World Series – Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy were the big stars. "Seabass" and "PT" both won championships. They both won races. They also got pretty annoyed with each other, on occasion.
Well, the two of them had better get the lead out and pretend it's the good, ol' days if they want to stick around the IZOD IndyCar Series because going into Saturday qualifying for the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Bourdais was 23rd quickest out of 27 cars and Tracy was 24th.
Whoa! What happened? Where did the time go?
Okay, after the qualifying dust had settled in California, Bourdais had improved to 19th but Tracy is still back there and dropped a spot, in fact. He'll start 25th on Sunday.
Will Power won the pole, with Ryan Hunter-Reay outside pole and Mike Conway (!!!) third fastest. Alex Tagliani will start ninth while James Hinchcliffe will go to the post 11th. Ryan Briscoe, who was fastest in all the practice sessions, wound up 12th (I guarantee you he was doing a lot of yelling in the Penske compound after qualifying ended.)
Simona de Silvestor will start 18th and Danica Patrick will go off 20th. Ana Beatriz is 26th on the chart.
By the way, Jeff Gordon won the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega, with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. right behind. The last time cars owned by the same organization swept the top four spots in qualifying was in 2005 when Jack Roush-owned cars did it at California Speedway.
They’re back to Siamese-twin, or doggie-style, or whatever-you-want-to-call that two-car tandem racing that we last saw at Daytona. This is when the drivers all talk to each other and make nice in order to team up, which is both insulting and boring.
If you want to, you can watch the Sprint Cup race on Sunday at noon on TSN2. It will be followed by the IndyCar race from Long Beach at 5 p.m., also on TSN2.
P.S. on NASCAR: Kyle Busch won the Nationwide race Saturday.
Canadian woman racer Maryeve Dufault, who ran two races in the 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series last year, has opted to run a season in the ARCA Series in 2011 and certainly got everybody’s attention Saturday morning at Talladega.
After qualifying third on Thursday, for a race that was originally scheduled for Friday afternoon but was put over till Saturday because of rain and tornadoes in Alabama, the Sorel, Que.-based driver was sent to the back of the starting field after her car was found to be illegal during post-qualifying inspection.
So, starting 39th, she ran a great race Saturday and eventually finished 12th behind winner Ty Dillon, who’s a development driver for Richard Childress. Frank Kimmel was second and Bobby Gerhart, third.
Pierre Bourque of Ottawa started 16th and finished 15th. Bourque was in a camera car so got great exposure for his sponsors Revolution Resources, the Fight Network and ESR Toyota.
Milka Duno, who is persona non grata in the IndyCar Series (although don’t be surprised if she shows up at the last minute in Indianapolis), qualified eighth and finished 19th.
James Hyston, who must be a hundred (actually, he’s only 77), started 29th and finished 33rd.
Dufault, by the way, credits a conversation she had with Kurt Busch for giving her the smarts to race on a superspeedway like Talladega. She said he told her all about drafting.
She was obviously a good student. If she could make it up to 12th from 39th, think of what might have been if she’d actually started third. . .