Sunday, October 19, 2008
Chinese Grand Prix: Hamilton walks it
Lewis Hamilton took victory in the Chinese Grand Prix and made it look easy from start to finish. Hamilton put last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix behind him and silenced some of his critics for the moment; as he did not put away Felipe Massa. Massa finished 2nd after he simply was outpaced by Hamilton and a resurgent Kimi Raikkonen who let Massa by with the "non-team orders" orders as the race was in it's final stages. Nevertheless, Ferrari was no match for Hamilton and conceded that Hamilton was in a different league today. In addition to establishing a 7 point lead going into the final race of the season in Brazil, he exercised the demons that was last year's Chinese Grand Prix. Although his aggressive style can cost him at times, he is still developing as a driver and his racecraft will continue to improve with time. The possibilities seem scary. At the moment, he does not look flustered and he and the team are calm. They look poised to lock up the title in Brazil.
In terms of points of interest:
1. Alonso and Renault. Alonso and Nelson Piquet both scored points today. Given the pace of Hamilton, Alonso had no chance to win and conceded that 4th place was the best possible result and they achieved that result. As predicted Nelson Piquet's starting slot was not going to hinder him in terms of getting some points. He is looking more comfortable and his recent performances may have gone a long way to help him keep his job.
2. Kubica. He did a fine job coming up through the field to finish 6th after a mess of a qualifying that him locked in to a not so ideal car set-up. The car got better as they got deeper into the race and after changing to the soft compound tires he got the performance he needed. He lost his shot to extend the title fight to Brazil, however he still needs to fend off a surging Kimi Raikkonen if he is to keep 3rd place in the World Championship. A wonderful achievement for Kubica if he can do it.
3. Kovalainen. He was running in the points in the non-descript way that has been the definition of his season. He has been outpaced by many of the front runners this season and has suffered from some back luck. Today's race was simply another example of Kovalainen's quiet race being turned to dust by some misfortune or error. He has been overhauled by Fernando Alonso by 2 points and has extended his race of non-points finishes by only taking points once in the last 5 races. I know this is his first year at McLaren and that he is a likable guy, but I have to chance course. What Hamilton has done in the McLaren should embarrass Kovalainen. He looks rather average and the fact that he has been overtaken by Alonso and now sits 7th in the points should cause McLaren to revisit this choice of driver. I wonder where is the criticism.
4. Race stewards. A pretty straight forward race with no major controversies. A relief.
Fastest lap: Hamilton, 1:36.325