Shanghai was the 1,000th world championship Grand Prix, we wanted an epic fight as we saw at the 900th race where we saw action across the field. Going into the weekend we were saying Ferrari needed to step up and take the fight to Mercedes.
However, it was a race where Mercedes came out the blocks from the start of the weekend with the stronger car. We know history dictates that Shanghai is a circuit where both Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have been strong, but this year we have seen the team benefit from Ferrari’s mistakes and get maximum results.
I think the biggest conclusion we need to take away from China, is Ferrari aren’t maximising and getting the potential out of the car and are favouring the wrong driver. Sebastian Vettel just has not been able to get the best out of the car and has made mistakes.
The question is going to be whether Ferrari does continue the team orders and give Vettel priority in ‘certain situations’, I can understand that. There aim as we have always seen has been on the driver’s championship, they believe that team orders are a necessary and unavoidable part of the sport and we need to accept that.
China was fitting for race 1,000, we didn’t have the epic battle we saw at race 900, but we saw why Mercedes have been so dominant in recent years and that Ferrari make the wrong calls. Ferrari proved in winter testing that they have a good car and if they can get there act together they will become a challenge for Mercedes.
Questions need to be asked of Vettel, is he the right man after four years to lead Ferrari forward on track and as the season where he becomes a lower class of champion. He will, however, be highly regarded as a four-time champion he won’t be in the same breath as say, Lewis Hamilton, Ayrton Senna or Juan Mannel Fangio.
One of the stand out performers in that race has to be Alex Albon, the Toro Rosso driver following a heavy FP3 crash and starting from the back to score points in the race. Albon earned himself driver of the day with 17.7% of the vote.
Starting from the pit lane he used a one-stop strategy to get into the points in a midfield car, that’s a good result considering how competitive the midfield is this season. It also, I feel underlined how effective changes to the regulations have been.
Red Bull are where we expected them to be, team principal Christian Horner was cautiously optimistic after practice. But really, I wasn’t expecting much from them in China as the Honda wasn’t going to perform well given the straights.
However, while Red Bull wasn’t in the front mix again the progress by Honda apart from the change to unit two on Friday shows encouragement.
We head to the streets of Baku next for race 1,001 where anything can happen… Baku has never been won by Ferrari something they will want to put right going into the proper European season…