Shanghai’s Crazy Race 2011

What. A. Race. 10/10 thanks to some fantastic battles in the front runners, with first place changing hands several times. Seb Vettel was unable to get into the first corner in the lead after a fantastic start from Jenson Button. Tonio Liuzzi jumped the start and was given a drive-through penalty – not that it would have much effect on HRT. Both HRT drivers effectively did single-stop races, but the Saubers did not. In the end, a three-stop seemed the best option, as Vettel on a two-stop and wearing tyres (plus a broken radio connection) couldn’t pit again when Lewis Hamilton was threatening his lead – which he eventually regained in the middle of the race. But Lewis was on fresher tyres and took it back to claim his first victory of 2011. Considering he almost started from the pit lane after a massive fuel leak – he only made it out with seconds to spare – this is an incredible achievement.
Further back in the field, an impressive Mark Webber spent his time working his way up from 18th, and in the closing stages of the race overtook Jenson Button to end on the podium and also set the fastest lap. It was definitely one of the drives of the day. Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus was also fantastic, as he finished ahead of Pastor Maldonado on merit, and Sergio Perez after the Mexican was given a drive-through penalty for dangerous driving.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was leading the race at one point thanks to his three-stop strategy, though he ended up losing it in the pits. He ended up finishing in fifth, with Schumacher 8th, which placed Mercedes as the third-place constructor in the race. Ferrari’s Massa and Alonso finished sixth and seventh respectively, but Massa had a much better day than his teammate – good news for his position in the team.
Worst mistake of the day without a doubt went to Jenson Button, who lost his initial lead to Vettel after driving into the Red Bull pit instead of the McLaren pit; Vettel was pitting right behind him. The German then emerged ahead of the Brit. The only other mistake – and only retirement of the race – went to Jaime Alguersuari whose rear right tyre hadn’t been fitted properly when he pitted. Oops!
But Red Bull’s dominance has been pushed back – for now. Vettel hasn’t won the first three races of the season, and there is hope. Next race is Turkey, in three weeks time.

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