Vettel leads Red Bull Racing to maiden one-two victory in China

Sebastian Vettel started from pole position at Monza last year, and won. The young German again started from the top spot and after nearly two hours of error-free perfection in the tricky wet conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit, Vettel led home team-mate Mark Webber to a fantastic one-two result for Red Bull Racing.

This was a superb result by the drivers and the Milton Keynes-based team. After competing in five seasons in Formula One, to finish in the top two podium positions and not forgetting securing its first pole, is a remarkable achievement. Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz and team principal Christian Horner, plus chief designer Adrian Newey should be proud of this performance.

Championship leader Jenson Button was unable to challenge the ‘charging’ Red Bulls in China and could only manage third, ahead of his Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello – who incidentally set the quickest lap of the race.

And continuing the team formation finish, McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen was relieved to have completed a racing lap after two early exits in Australia and Malaysia. The Finn finished ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who had an eventful race in the sister car, running off the track and spinning several times.

The race began after eight laps under the safety car period due to the wet and windy conditions. When DTM ace Bernd Maylander pulled his Mercedes-Benz safety car back to the pits, the Red Bulls led until their first refuelling stops, with Webber in on lap 14 followed by Vettel a lap later.

That put series leader Jenson Button into the lead after the Briton passed his Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello on the eleventh lap. Behind them, there was an exciting battle in the mid-field with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on the move.

The world champion climbed up to fifth spot but then spun down to tenth on lap 11. If Lewis wanted to score some decent amount of points, he needed to work his way up again. By the time the safety car made its second appearance (on lap 18), the McLaren driver was back up to eighth.

The safety car was called out due to an accident involving the BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica slamming hard into the back of Jarno Trulli’s Toyota. It seems Trulli was being extra caution in the final corner and the unsighted Kubica had no room to avoid the slow moving car. Amazingly, the BMW was able to continue despite the heavy damage and with two changes to the front wing, the Polish driver went on to finish P13. Not so for Trulli, who was forced to retire.

But while the slow and broken Toyota was making its slow trip back to the pit lane, Formula One rookie Sebastien Buemi ran into the back of Vettel, damaging his Toro Rosso’s front wing. The Swiss was unable to see due to the spray, but somehow his crash didn’t cause a double retirement for the energy-drink sponsored teams.

While running under the safety car, the Ferrari of Felipe Massa was forced to stop after the F60 encounter a mechanical problem, resulting in no drive. It was another disappointing end for the Brazilian with zero points after three races.

Vettel now headed the field as the racing resumed and the speed in that leading Red Bull was astonishing. The German pulled out 4.3 seconds on the first green lap alone, then proceeded to stroll away around one to two seconds per lap throughout the middle stint of the 56-lap race. Button was unable to respond and came under heavy pressure from Mark Webber.

The Australian grabbed second when Button missed his braking point and ran wide at the hairpin on lap 28. Now it was a Red Bull one-two, but Button snatched second back two laps later when Webber ran wide in the final corner on a track slippier than a skating rink!

Not to be outdone, Webber snatched the place back within a lap with a terrific around-the-outside manoeuvre at turns 7 and 8. Even Button was shocked to see the Red Bull being able to pass him in this sequence of corners.

Vettel made his final pit stop five laps earlier than Button, and rejoined right behind the Brawn GP. With Jenson still needing to pit again, Vettel was virtually assured of the victory from that moment, but still made certain of it by out-braking Button into the hairpin on lap 40.

It was a perfect overtaking manoeuvre, reminiscent of fellow countryman Michael Schumacher in his heyday.

Button pitted on lap 42 and dropped down to third, and for the first time this season Brawn GP did not look like the pacesetter.

That was Adrian Newey’s RB5 design, powered by the Renault engine. Vettel and Webber had no trouble reeling off the remaining laps to a great triumph as Button finished in a distant third.

Both McLarens finished, Heikki Kovalainen heading Hamilton. The Finn made no mistakes, but Lewis had several off track moments on his way to sixth. Behind the world champion, Toyota’s Timo Glock fought his way back up to seventh for Toyota (after starting from the pit lane after a gearbox penalty) ahead of the again impressive Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi, who withstood a lot of pressure in difficult conditions to take the final championship point.

As for Fernando Alonso, who started the Chinese Grand Prix second on the grid, the Renault driver was disappointed to finish in ninth. The opening eight laps behind the safety car ruined his race strategy and it was an uphill struggle for the Spaniard.

At least he was more competitive than the other world champion, as Kimi Raikkonen had a miserable afternoon in the Ferrari. The Iceman struggled in the wet conditions and came home in tenth.

With two non-finishes in China, Ferrari are having their worst start in Formula One season since 1981 as Raikkonen and Massa failed to score for the third race in a row.

The defending constructors’ champions reacted to their non-scores in Australia and Malaysia by shifting Luca Baldisserri off the pit wall and promoting Chris Dyer in his place. They also decided not the use their KERS this weekend.

But it didn’t stop the rot. Felipe Massa had a strong start to the race, making up places in the early stages, but came to a halt on lap 20 with a car problem.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, never really figured – losing a lot of places in the opening laps and finishing in tenth, ahead of the double spinner Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso).

The unlucky Adrian Sutil was again denied a points finish, after aquaplaning into the barriers with only five laps to go… It ended another exemplary wet weather drive from the German, and denying Force India its first ever points.

Kazuki Nakajima made several errors in the Grand Prix and was forced to retire in the pits, while his Williams team-mate Nico Rosberg fared less well after a late gamble on intermediate tyres failed to pay off. Rosberg went on to finish in a poor 15th position.

As for Nelson Piquet Jr, this was another disastrous day. His Renault required a total of three nose sections after spinning first into a marker board and later into a barrier. Surely, Flavio Briatore is losing patience with this young Brazilian?

Anyway, despite finishing on the bottom step of the podium Button extends his drivers’ championship lead to 21 points, ahead of Barrichello on 15, Vettel on 10, and Webber on 9.5.

Race results from Shanghai, 56 laps:

1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault       1h57:43.485
2.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault        +10.970
3.  Button        Brawn GP-Mercedes      +44.975
4.  Barrichello   Brawn GP-Mercedes       +1:03.704
5.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes        +1:05.102
6.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes        +1:11.866
7.  Glock         Toyota                  +1:14.476
8.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari     +1:16.439
9.  Alonso        Renault                 +1:24.309
10.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber              +1:31.750
11.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     +1:34.156
12.  Raikkonen     Ferrari                +1:35.834
13.  Kubica        BMW Sauber              +1:46.853
14.  Fisichella    Force India-Mercedes    +1 lap
15.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota        +1 lap
16.  Piquet        Renault                +2 laps

Fastest lap: Barrichello, 1:52.592

Not classified/retirements:
Sutil         Force India-Mercedes     51 laps
Nakajima      Williams-Toyota         44 laps
Massa         Ferrari               23 laps
Trulli        Toyota                 19 laps

World Championship standings, round 3:

1.  Button        21
2.  Barrichello   15
3.  Vettel         10
4.  Glock        10
5.  Webber       9.5
6.  Trulli       8.5
7.  Alonso         4
8.  Heidfeld       4
9.  Hamilton       4
10.  Kovalainen     4
11.  Rosberg       3.5
12.  Buemi          3
13.  Bourdais       1

1.  Brawn GP-Mercedes      36
2.  Red Bull-Renault       19.5
3.  Toyota                 18.5
4.  McLaren-Mercedes        8
5.  Renault                 4
6.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari      4
7.  BMW Sauber              4
8.  Williams-Toyota         3.5

Next race: Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir. April 24-26.

3 thoughts to “Vettel leads Red Bull Racing to maiden one-two victory in China”

  1. Let’s hear what the top three had to say after the Chinese Grand Prix – taken from

    Sebastian Vettel was a delighted man after clinching his second Formula 1 victory in the Chinese Grand Prix, the German giving Red Bull Racing its made victory.

    The 21-year-old, who last year became the youngest ever winner when he took victory at the Italian Grand Prix with Toro Rosso, dominated the wet race from pole position and crossed the finish line 10 seconds ahead of team-mate Mark Webber, who completed a 1-2 for the Milton Keynes team.

    Vettel praised his team following the overnight work to fix the problems that had hindered both him and Webber on Saturday.

    “I am extremely happy,” admitted Vettel, now fourth in the championship standings. “Second time now I’ve won a grand prix in the wet. The car was fantastic, it is definitely necessary to mention team did a really, really good job in preparing the car.

    “We were struggling a bit with reliability, but we fixed it overnight. That speaks of the quality of our team, everybody was trying to fix it. Both cars finished the race. Having a double win for Red Bull is incredible.”

    The German admitted the race, which took place entirely in the wet, had been very hard given the conditions.

    He also welcomed the decision to start behind the safety car.

    “I think first of all it was the right decision to start behind the safety car as there was a lot of standing water,” said Vettel. “It was okay at some corners but every lap there would be aquaplaning, sometimes less sometimes more.

    “We knew we were on a short strategy so I had to push at the beginning to get away from the pack which we succeeded in doing.

    “It was very difficult race, a lot of aquaplaning, you were just catching cars, keeping it on circuit. I think I had best conditions as no cars were running in front of me the whole race so it was quite comfortable but still difficult with the aquaplaning, especially in the last corner.”

    Vettel said he took it easy in the last part of the race, trying to avoid errors and bringing the car home.

    “With some 10 laps to the end I was always trying to observe the gap to car behind and trying to adapt to his pace. I was trying to have everything in control but it is extremely difficult. I tried to bring the car home. I tried to really be focused corner by corner and not looking too far ahead.

    “The last two laps I backed off, I didn’t want to risk going off the track in the same way. Winning the second race, and having won here for Toro Rosso and Red Bull is fantastic.”

    Mark Webber said Red Bull’s one-two finish in the Chinese Grand Prix makes up for all the missed opportunities the team has suffered over the years.

    The team dominated in wet conditions at Shanghai today, with Sebastian Vettel and Webber pushing the previously dominant Brawns back to third and fourth.

    “It means a huge amount,” said Webber. “Our team has been through a lot, a lot of results slipped through our fingers.”

    Red Bull appeared to have the fastest car on the very wet track, but Webber emphasised that the drivers had extracted the most from their package.

    “We capitalised on a car that worked well but pushed each other hard during the race,” he said.

    “The conditions were tough for the whole grand prix. It got a bit better in the middle and then a bit interesting at the end. It was a very tough race, extremely rewarding to get this result and personally for myself, it is the best result of my career.”

    “I hope to go one step better in the future, this is the way forward.”

    He also paid tribute to team owner Dietrich Mateschitz’s efforts since buying the former Jaguar squad in 2005.

    “Thinking of Dietrich has done, to get his first one-two it is a credit to him,” said Webber.

    Jenson Button admitted he was powerless to stop Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber dominating the wet Chinese Grand Prix for Red Bull.

    The world championship leader finished a distant third for Brawn GP, having only led the race during the two pitstop windows. This was in stark contrast to his commanding victories in the first two races of 2009.

    “We couldn’t challenge these people [Vettel and Webber] today, who were immensely quick, but it is great to score six points which is important for the consistency,” said Button, who revealed that he had struggled to get heat into his wet tyres during the race and actually weaved down the back straight on occasion to try and warm them up.

    “I wasn’t weaving to block honestly! I just wanted to get heat into the tyres,” he said.

    “Rubens [Barrichello] and myself struggled quite a bit, I don’t know what reason for that is, car working in a different way, we will solve those problems in the future.”

    Button, a renowned wet weather driver, added that the conditions had proved challenging and that he was relieved to have taken a podium from a difficult race.

    “I think everyone was struggling with the aquaplaning out there, it was pretty crazy conditions into the last corner – it was a lake and I couldn’t brake for the corner,” he said. “A few other places were the same, the tyres shuddered as you couldn’t get temperature in to them.

    “It was difficult race and every lap you thought you were going to throw the car off, you really did. So to finish the race was an achievement and to come home on podium is also great.”

  2. It was another poor weekend for the defending constructors’ champions Ferrari. The Italian team really needs to perform or else risk losing out on both titles this year.

    Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali says the Italian team may switch its development focus onto the 2010 car as early as next month if its fortunes do not improve dramatically in the next few races.

    The Maranello-based outfit has failed to score a point in the first three races of the season, its worst start to a campaign since 1981, and is now facing a very tough challenge to get itself back in the championship hunt.

    Speaking at Shanghai on Sunday night, Domenicali refused to rule out the possibility of the team abandoning the development push on its 2009 car if matters do not improve when a double-decker diffuser version of its F60 is raced for the first time at the Spanish Grand Prix.

    When asked at what point the team would decide whether to start concentrating on the 2010 car, Domenicali said: “I think for sure we will see after Spain where we are. In that period we will see really what can be the situation – so when we come back to Europe basically.”

    Although much has been made of the advantage that the ‘diffuser gang’ of Brawn GP, Williams and Toyota have enjoyed in the first races of the season, Domenicali does not believe that copying their rear-end concept will be the whole answer to Ferrari’s woes.

    “No. The situation is much more complicated than that,” he said. “That device will give you a benefit. But it would be wrong to believe that it is the only key. We have seen, for example, the Red Bull car has done a really great job.

    “They had more time, they switched their project much earlier than us and that is the reality and we need to consider it. The other thing that we have to understand well is that today in certain conditions, look at the first part of the race, our car was not too bad at all. So we need to understand a lot of things.”

    Domenicali added that he would not be forced into a panic about Ferrari’s situation, or revise the team’s targets for the season.

    “I think we have to wait,” he said. “We need to stay cool. It is not easy, I know, but we need to stay cool because there are too many things that can change very quickly. The priority number one is to move from zero points.”


  3. What a great result for Red Bull, they must be over the moon. Great to see Vettel get a second victory and to do it fron the front shows real class. And Brawn still got 3rd and 4th so while they didn’t take the top two positions the they still showed great form and of course extend their lead in the constructors title.

    As for Ferrari, well, how embarrassing really. The chiefs will not be pleased at all by Stefano Domenicali the the rest of the lack luster team. TBO I think this season will be ditched and concentration for the 2010 car will happen even if they do well in Spain. Until now it has been just two teams that could take either title and that meant it would be worth fighting for. But now both titles are up for the taking for what, 4 teams?! couple that with no points for Ferrari, their car will have to be mind meltingly quick to have a chance to catch up, THEN lead for the rest of the season. So I reckon behind closed doors, this season is already over for them. They will have to put a good show, thanks to Kimi’s icecream break at Malaysia. Yes, the race was over in most peoples minds, but as a driver to do it publicly like that wont have pleased the red team and their sponsors. Though i thought it quite funny, and thought it was something that James Hunt would have done along with having some female “fans” under each arm.

    I thought the race despite being wet ( very ) it was a little dull. But it also should great discipline by all the drivers as they fought the torrid conditions and only 4 cars not making around the track till the end. Yes there was a few occasions of cars getting to know each other very well, but they all did very well to keep the cars on the track.

    Hey and Kovalainen managed to complete a lap!

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