Red Bull Racing (RBR) totally dominated the 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago with a perfect race that saw Sebastien Vettel win his first Formula 1 (F1) race of the season, followed by teammate Mark Webber coming in second.
While RBR has been strong since the start of the season, and seems to have the fastest car, engine reliability issues have hit them hard.
Vettel was on track to win both the Australian and Bahrain GP's, but engine problems stalled his progress. Since then, however, Vettel's team seemed to get everything right when he won at Sepang.
Meanwhile, Webber is under severe pressure to perform this season, as there are rumors of teammate Kimi Raikkonen taking his seat for the 2011 season. So far, Webber has been a bit shaky this season, but if he continues to race as he did in Malaysia, he should be on the hunt for the title very soon.
Teams Ferrari and McLaren had a very bad Malaysian GP that saw both teams fail to get a driver on the podium despite having superior machinery.
McLaren, however, seems to have an upper hand heading into this weekend's Chinese GP, as their cars look more suited to the track, and could provide stiff challenge to RBR.
While Ferrari may lead both team championships as of now, recent engine reliability problems are a sign that things are not looking as rosy for the team. And despite Ferrari's Felipe Massa leading the drivers’ championship, there's been talk of Renault driver Robert Kubica joining Ferrari in 2011. This is a distraction that would be best avoided for Massa's own good.
Mercedes scored its first podium of the year with Nico Rosberg finishing third. Though Rosberg is just four points behind leader Massa, he needs to score as many as points as possible until Barcelona, where the team is expected to debut a “B” spec car.
Michael Schumacher’s last win came at the Chinese GP, but that seem to be a long time ago. Ferrari's Fernando Alonso might still consider Schumacher his title rival this season, but unless Mercedes does something to the car, Schumacher will only be a prop for the team.
Kubica had two amazing race weekends, and has Renault poised to catch up with Mercedes this weekend. Kubica doesn't trail Massa by much, and if he continues to drive the way he is, he may emerge as a dark horse for the title race this season.
Russia’s first F1 driver, Vitaly Petrov, proved that he is every bit of a racer, as it took McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton to pull off an unsporting weaving to keep Petrov at bay. Petrov will be looking forward to score his first set of points this weekend.
Force India has had its best-ever start to the season, and will be looking to catch up with Renault. So far, Force India is well ahead of Williams and STR, but it needs both of its drivers—Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi—to score points in order to catch Renault.
The track should favor the Force India duo, who could even be faster than they were at the Mercedes GP. Force India has to make the most of the conditions and ensure that they get Sutil and Liuzzi needed points with one of them even having an outside chance of making it to the podium.
It seems STR has caught up to with Williams in points, but it is a long season and STR should work really hard to sustain their momentum.
Jaime Alguersuari may have ended his points scoring drought, but Sebastien Buemi is still considered a better driver and the tussle between these two through the season should be interesting.
Nico Hulkenberg proved that he has the talent by scoring his first F1 point, but he needs to beat Rubens Barrichello once again to show that he is the real deal.
Sauber is the only old team yet to score points, and the way things are going if they don’t score points they may not even last the season.
Pedro de la Rosa has yet to score points, while Kamui Kobayashi is just the shadow of the driver we saw last season when he was with Toyota.
Sauber needs a change in fortune or else it will be only a matter of time when Lotus catches up with them.
It is good to see the new teams making progress, and Lotus may be the only team among the lot to have a realistic chance of scoring some points during the season.
Still, a lot of work has to be done, but with two experienced drivers and a good set-up, they can surprise people towards the second half of the season.
HRT has done well so far, but with Dallara not building a car up to the mark, they may lag behind Lotus and even Virgin Racing.
Though RBR seems to have the speed, you cannot discount Ferrari or McLaren, while Force India and Renault may surprise a lot of people. Mercedes needs a sound strategy and a miracle drive from Schumacher to pull anything from the Chinese GP.
Interestingly, the Chinese GP is the same venue where then STR driver Vettel crashed into Webber during the safety car period, while Hamilton got stuck into gravel on his way to pits.
So strange things have happened here, and 2010 would definitely benefit from another wild race.
Chinese GP Top 10 Predictions
1. Sebastien Vettel
2. Mark Webber
3. Adrian Sutil
4. Lewis Hamilton
5. Fernando Alonso
6. Michael Schumacher
7. Felipe Massa
8. Jenson Button
9. Robert Kubica
10. Vitantonio Liuzzi