Chinese Grand Prix: Weekend Preview

Well, we have been waiting for a while for the hotly anticipated return of Formula One. Our eagerness was justifiable considering the enthralling races in Australia and Malaysia. The latter was full of controversy and all eyes will be on Red Bull as they attempt to repair the damage caused by Vettel’s petulance. However, his most recent comments featured below are sure to rekindle the debate. Not the steady start to the weekend that Red Bull were surly after.

Vettel: “I’d Probably Do The Same Again”

As the press arrived in China, Sebastian Vettel was inevitably going to be the center of attention. While the German apologized publicly in the immediate aftermath of the controversial Malaysian Grand Prix, he has revealed that this was not heartfelt. Instead, Vettel announced that he would be willing to disobey team orders again, if it meant winning a race; His justification is that he is payed to win races for Red Bull Racing. Vettel stated, “I am not sure I can give you a proper answer because in the moment it might be different, but I would probably do the same.” 
Sebastian will have not diminished the tension between his and Webber’s frosty relationship either, after he announced that Webber did not deserve to win the Malaysian Grand Prix. He continued, “There is quite a conflict, because on the one hand I am the kind of guy who respects team decisions and the other hand, probably Mark is not the one who deserved it at the time.” In addition, Sebastian hinted that their may have been an element of ‘payback’ for past transgressions between the two. “As I tried to explain after the race in my opinion it’s always best to be truthful. Maybe sometimes the truth is not what the people want to hear because as you can see controversy is more popular than the truth. I told you after the race what happened; I was racing, as a racing driver I was solely focused on winning the race. I got a call on the radio which I heard but I didn’t understand at the time. I should have understood, that’s why I apologized to the team because in my action I put myself above the team but that wasn’t my intention. Whether you believe me or not is up to you.”
Mark Webber will hope that he can win the Chinese Grand Prix, with Sebastian preoccupied in other battles. Clearly, the gloves are off and Christian Horner will have no control over proceedings once the drivers head out onto the circuit. 

Hamilton Sidelined By Allergies

While the Twitter Rumor-Mill went into overdrive this afternoon, Lewis Hamilton is highly unlikely to miss Sunday’s race, however, the Brit did have to neglect his Thursday duties, after a suspected allergic reaction. Having arrived at the circuit at the usual time, Mercedes sent their driver back to the hotel with some flu like symptoms effecting the sinuses.
The Daily Telegraph reported, Hamilton’s “ailment was said by Mercedes to be afflicting his eyes and nose and to require a period of rest ahead of Sunday’s race. Shanghai has been affected by serious air pollution levels in recent weeks.” It was also reported that Hamilton was to be seen by a doctor this evening. Fans have little need for concern; it is better for Hamilton to miss his press duties as oppose to vital track time. Hopefully, Hamilton will return to action tomorrow.

Bianchi Eyes Ferrari Seat

Jules Bianchi has experienced a blistering start to his Formula One career. The Frenchman arrived at Marussia late in the winter and after only two test sessions, he has made constructed consecutive impressive performances, attracting attention from all over the paddock. Although the humble Frenchman is focused on his current task at Marussia, he has hinted that a Ferrari seat is his ultimate goal. “It is something we have in mind because I already have a contract with them in the Academy, so we want for sure to do something in the future,” he told Sky Sports. “But, it is too early to know about that. We have done only two races, we still have 17 races to do and we will see what happens. I don’t want to put any extra pressure – I am with Marussia now, I want to do a good job for them and then we will see what happens. I need to stay at this level first of all and improve. We will see next year what happens, but I would be pleased to stay with Marussia next year again.”

Bianchi is entitled to hope for a successful future in the sport. He has outclassed his fellow rookies, including teammate Chilton. If any driver is outperforming their machinery, it is Jules Bianchi. He will be hoping to challenge the likes of Williams and Toro Rosso this weekend, as he has edged closer and closer to them in Qualifying of late. Marussia have longed for a place in Q2, and in Bianchi, they have a driver who can deliver the perfect lap to get them there.

Final Thoughts

The Chinese Grand Prix provided a classic race last season, where tyre wear and strategy proved to make or break a team’s fortunes. Who could forget Nico Rosberg’s dominant maiden victory, for a Mercedes team who quickly fell off of cloud nine. Evidently, the long straight aided their efforts, with the DDRS proving to be a priceless advantage in Qualifying, coupled with the sublime power of the Merc engine. Hamilton and Rosberg will certainly consider this weekend to be an excellent opportunity to reinforce their standing in both championships. 
Meanwhile, McLaren have an excellent history at the Shanghi International Circuit. Jenson Button managed to win his second race for the team in 2010, as Hamilton rounded off a perfect 1-2 finish, with Lewis claiming a dramatic win in 2011. However, it would be considered a miracle if the team could replicate the performance in 2013, after a stuttering start to the season. While Whitmarsh has acknowledged the team’s great progress, it would be a brave bet to back either Button or Perez to claim a podium, let alone a victory.
It is imaginable that Red Bull will be strong in the first and second sectors, before struggling with drag along the straight. While Ferrari have a patchy recent history at the circuit, they could be considered to have the best all round package for the circuit. 
Expect these two teams to be at the head of the field, with Mercedes challenging the pair. However, the Pirelli rubber adds an air of unpredictability to proceedings and Lotus, Force India and McLaren will hope that the weather and track temperatures work in their favor. Again, this is an unbelievably difficult race to call. Lets have your predictions in the comments section below.
As always, keep track of the entire race weekend on the blog, with in-depth analysis of every session soon after the flag drops. Miss none of what is set to be a captivating weekend.
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