F1 China Results and Full Race Report: McLaren 1-2 in Close Racing in the Rain

What Happens When the Race Is Still Exciting

5:08am EST — Jenson Button won a topsy-turvy, rain-dampened 2010 Chinese GP, with teammate Lewis Hamilton making it a McLaren 1-2.  Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso,  and Robert Kubica rounded out the top five in a race that saw two safety cars, tons of passing, rain and damp conditions, a jumped start by Alonso, and as many as six pit stops (Alguersuari, though Alonso was close behind with five, including a drive-through for the start) and as few as two (Button, Rosberg, and Petrov).  Pole sitter Sebastian Vettel finished sixth, though he and Hamilton will be speaking with the stewards, including Alex Wurz, after the race for some close racing into and down the pit lane.  Teammate Webber finished eighth, with Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher finishing in the final points positions.

Sebastian Vettel started on pole, with teammate Mark Webber next to him and Fernando Alonso third after a moderately sedate qualifying session.  There were no particular surprises, with Red Bull continuing to dominate, though the McLarens’ dominant pace in practice translated to fifth and sixth place stars for Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, respectively.  Nico Rosberg again out-qualified teammate Michael Schumacher, starting fourth as compared to the veteran’s ninth.

Alonso had a brilliant and very quick start, leading well into turn one as Vettel fot a bad start and was overtaken by Webber.  In the back, Liuzzi lost the rear, swinging into the gravel and across the track into Buemi and then Kobayashi, soon bringing out the safety car with slightly spitting rain.  Many cars went into the pits, with Button radioing with the suggestion to McLaren that Alonso must have jumped the start.  In the replays, it certainly looked as though he did and Charlie Whiting clearly pointed him out.  Alonso and Webber came in the next lap for inters as Vettel stacked up behind his teammate and others in and out with new tires as race control announced that Alonso was bbeing investigated.  Hamilton managed to to go through the left-hand gravel trap and strew gravel across pit-in, though he did not get stuck this year, on his way into the pits.

The top five after the restart, Rosberg, Button, Kubica, Petrov, and de la Rosa were all on dry tires and were soon overtaken or hunted down by those on the inters, with Alonso particularly going around the outside of the less grippy cars.  Meanwhile, it appeared that Glock and di Grassi did not start the race.  On L5, Schumacher pitted and switched back to slicks as teammate Rosberg posted the fastest lap on them.  Alonso was also punished with a drive-through, which he served.  Vettel and Hamilton fought for position in the pit lane after switching back to dry tires, with Hamilton nearly touching Vettel on the way out and diving across his bow on the way in.  Alonso was back in as well, changing tires while the rain started and stopped across the circuit, just after Massa and stacking up in the box, as Massa went through the right-side gravel on the pit entry.

The on-track racing was filled with diving and weaving, with the slower teams in front and faster ones behind.  Particularly exhilarating was the battle between Hamilton and Barrichello for eleventh.  de la Rosa lost his engine with a small stream of smoke and steam behind.  Ten laps in, Rosberg led Button, Kubica, Petrov, and Alguersuari as the top five.  Vettel was in ninth, just behind Kovalainen’s Lotus, while Webber followed Hamilton in eleventh, and the Ferraris of Massa and Alonso were thirteenth and fourteenth, respectively.  That would soon change as many got around Kovalainen, but Hamilton had a bit of a time to get around Sutil, but twitched passed him, leaving both Red Bulls to fight with the Force India.  As Vettel went through, Sutil slightly over-defended and allowed Webber through as well.

According to radio between Mercedes and Michael Schumacher, the rain had begun again, but it would only be at the same intensity as before, with the special note to Schumacher that teammate Rosberg had yet to change from dry tires at all.  He also led the race, while the veteran was the first of those who had stopped in fifth, despite having used inters.  Schumacher proceeded to fight off Hamilton, who was looking for fifth position.  On their third lap of the fight, Hamilton got around Schumacher on the straight, but then was passed himself, before Schumacher went a bit wide and lost the position to Hamilton.  Vettel then took the position form his fellow German while Webber remained behind as the rain picked up again.

On L19, Rosberg had an off in a particularly rainy spot, allowing Button to close up and pass on the front straight for the lead.  In the pits, Schumacher and Webber were the first in for inters, with Webber having continued unlucky slow stops.  Both Ferraris, Senna, and then the top three pitted as well, as race control noted that the Hamilton/Vettel pit lane incident would be investigated after the race.  Then another handful of drivers were in for different tires, with everyone having stopped and switched to inters at some point, though many drivers had already stopped three times by lap 20 of a 56 lap race.  Alguersuari came in with a highly damaged front wing for a change, having gotten into the back of Bruno Senna,causing the saftey car to be deployed on L22.  Button led Rosberg, Kubica, Petrov, and Schumacher as the top five.  Webber, Hamilon, Vettel, Sutil and Alonso were fifth through tenth, as Alonso snuck around Massa on the pit lane entrance for position.  Massa rejoined the track in twelfth.

With the SC in on the next lap, Button held up the field on L25, preparing for a re-start that showed him streaking away

with Hamilton and Schumacher fighting yet again, after Hamilton forced Webber off-track on the way to the line.  The rain appeared to be increasing, while Button still led Rosberg, Kubica, Hamilton, and Petrov.  Hamilton took third from the Pole on L30 as Alonso got around Sutil for sixth, as did Vettel soon after.  With 24 laps left, Schumacher was also pursuing Sutil, with Massa in the final points paying position.

L33 had fifth-place Petrov losing the rear end and gifting the position to Alonso, and returning to racing behind Massa and Barrichello.  With only about twenty laps left, the pace had slowed as tire degradation set in.  Hamilton, by this point had caught up with Rosberg and nearly got around him, but the German managed to hold him off.  Schumacher pitted again on L37 as Button’s lead increased while Hamilton came in for new tires, as did Kubica and Vettel (after Webber had been in and out with inters that looked like slicks).  Trulli retired with continued hydraulic problems.  Button then pitted from the lead, as Rosberg did from second and Alonso as well.  Button kept the lead, with Hamilton beating Rosberg around for a McLaren 1-2.

With fifteen laps left, some drivers were closing up, but the dramatic action had slowed as the rain continued to fall.  Button still led Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, Kubica, Vettel, Webber, Schumacher, Alguersuari, and Petrov for the top ten.  Having radioed for information on his closing teammate, Button stepped up the pace enough to keep the gap, but Hamilton did the same.  With ten laps to go, a battle had commenced between Alguersuari, Petrov, Massa, and Sutil for tenth position, with the young Spaniard holding up everyone.  Petrov went through, Alguersuari held off Massa for a moment, but also lost his spot to the Brazilian.  His Ferrari teammate was upping the pace in fourth, catching up third place Rosberg, who was losing over a second each lap for the previous three laps to Alonso.

Meanwhile, Hamilton in second was saying that his left front was “bald,” with the engineer reminding him that the tires would make the end of the race.  Hamilton continued to loose time to leading teammate Button, ten seconds behind with five laps to go, and Rosberg (and, subsequently, Alonso) catching him up.  Button appeared to have far fewer tire issues despite stopping fewer times. Button, however, lost quite a bit of time driving off the track.  Farther back, Petrov had caught up and decidedly passed Schumacher with four and a half left.  Many of the drivers seemed to be having issues with grip with the tires wearing thin.

Massa attempted to go ’round Schumacher, but Schumacher slid Massa off the track just enough to keep the position, as Petrov had his sights on Webber ahead of the former teammates.  Webber slid just a bit wide and Petrov took advantage and the position. On the final lap, Button was looking decidedly twitchy, with a smallish gap between the two.  Hamilton was warned that the rain was increasing and to “be careful.”  Further back, the Massa-Schumacher show was continuing, with Massa taking the position and Schumacher the off-track excursion.  In front, Button took the win with Hamilton making a very pretty 1-2 photo.

Final Positions for the 2010 Chinese GP:
1. Button
2. Hamilton +1.5
3. Rosberg +9.4
4. Alonso +11.8
5. Kubica +22.2
6. Vettel +33.3
7. Petrov +47.6
8. Webber +52.1
9. Massa +57.7
10. Schumacher +61.7
11. Sutil +62.8
12. Barrichello +63.6
13. Alguersuari +71.4
14. Kovalainen +1 Lap
15. Hulkenberg +1 Lap
16. Senna +2 Laps
17. Chandhok +4 Laps
di Grassi
de La Rosa


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