What on earth are they putting in the water in Shanghai? A little bit of rain on the track, and everyone regresses to their go-karting days. From Fernando Alonso jumping the start, there was a constant stream of incidents to keep the stewards—and fans—fully entertained.
The threat of rain hung over the race from the start, and after an initial false start that saw half the field head in prematurely for intermediate tyres and then head back in again for slicks, the rain was just playing a bit of a joke.
Those who didn’t fall for the false start on the precipitation front—mainly Jensen Button, Nico Rosberg, and Robert Kubica—set themselves up for a good finish in the race.
By lap five, it was apparent that the rain was nowhere near heavy enough to sustain the intermediate tyres, and all those who had changed early were forced to go back in to replace the tortured, blistered rubber.
It was here that we saw one of Lewis Hamilton’s notorious moments of madness. Hamilton passed Sebastien Vettel going into the pits—on the pit entry lane no less—and then after being released into Vettel’s path, continued to race him side-by-side down the pit lane.
While it was initially a great piece of driving not to hit Vettel, Hamilton should have lifted momentarily and pulled in behind Vettel. The incident is to be investigated after the race, but it is yet another incident where Hamilton’s aggression has got the better of him.
He was back on form yet again after a safety car restart when, in combination with Vettel, he punted Mark Webber of the road, making the Red Bull driver’s day even worse.
Not that Hamilton was alone in the mad-moment stakes. Alonso pushed teammate Felipe Massa off the road in the pit entrance, and then Button came close to wiping out the whole pack by sharply backing everyone up restarting the race after a safety car period.
There is plenty of work for the stewards to do after the race, and questions need to be asked as to why decisions couldn’t be made on the day.
But, again, the most rewarding outcome from the day is the return of real racing, with overtaking and different lines through corners and real driving skills, as the level of grip faded with the poor intermediate tyres being pushed far beyond their useful life.
Button becomes the first driver this year to win more than one race and consequently, jumps to the top of the points table, 10 points ahead of the consistent Rosberg—who is showing up illustrious rival, Michael Schumacher—with Lewis Hamilton a further point back.
Red Bull, again, are the biggest losers from the weekend. After staring both cars on the front row of the grid, they could only bring home sixth and eighth positions. They probably can’t wait to get back to Europe to start the season again. Let’s hope the volcanic ash clears in time to let them.