Chinese Grand Prix 2008 - 29/10/08

The Chinese GP was one of little excitement or incident, but to dismiss it as such would be an injustice to a faultless, deeply impressive and crushing victory by Lewis Hamilton and McLaren. Squaring up and consummately defeating both Ferraris without any outside assistance or circumstance will provide immense psychological benefits to McLaren ahead of the title showdown in Brazil.

Other points of note included an interesting first-lap tussle between Fernando Alonso's Renault and Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren. Initially it may have seemed as though Alonso and Renault had risen to the point of actually beating a McLaren in a straight fight, however the truth lies more in the fact that Kovalainen's car had its front tyres on the wrong way around leading to chronic understeer. Also on the first lap, Jarno Trulli and Sebastien Bourdais collided. Trulli had the chance to score some good points at Shanghai, highlighted by Timo Glock's rise from twelfth to seventh by the end of the race.

On the subject of Toyota, there must be some disappointment as to how 4th place in the constructors' championship has been lost to Renault. It wasn't all that long ago that Jarno Trulli earned 3rd place at Magny Cours and Glock 2nd place at the Hungaroring. With a podium each, one championship position and eight points separating them, it's easy to believe that Glock has matched Trulli over the course of the year. It is even possible to conclude that Glock, for the most part a rookie, has been more impressive than Trulli. Is it the truth though?

The number of times you will have read about the so-called "Trulli Train" phenomenon negates the need for it to be re-iterated here, but the fact that Jarno has out-qualified Glock 13-4 suggests that Trulli's ability during Saturday is the direct cause of this phenomenon. Again, this is old news. Trulli has scored on nine occasions compared to Glock's five in 2008, with 3 retirements to 4 respectively. On paper, Trulli has clearly had the better season but considering that this is Glock's first full year in F1 the fact that he is only 8 points behind Trulli at this stage is a huge credit to him. Renowned as a strong racer and fighter, he has more than justified a second season alongside Trulli. However, he will be expected to match or better Jarno for next year if his stock is to continue rising.

Toyota's example also shows how one race can completely alter the way things look at the end of a season. Had Trulli not collided with Bourdais, he may well have finished ahead of Heidfeld and Kubica in 5th place. As a result, he would have 2 retirements instead of 3, and we could say he had "half" that of Glock. Also he would be somewhere in the region of 14 points clear of Glock (taking into account both Trulli and Bourdais finishing ahead of Timo in the race). That would have put Trulli ahead of Vettel in the championship and Webber ahead of Glock. Instead of one championship position between them, there would have been three. That makes for very different reading at a glance.

But how will things look at the end of the season as far as the top of the championship is concerned? As demonstrated above, one race makes all the difference, and one race is all that remains. If the race is as incident-light as China and the contenders qualify at the sharp end, the outcome will favour Hamilton. Also, when Hamilton has had bad races this season, Massa and Ferrari have more often than not failed to fully capitalise. It's a shame that foul play is a major consideration in most race predictions, and most feel the stewards will have a part to play. There has been much advice for Hamilton published and reported across the F1 media. All Hamilton and McLaren will be hoping for is that the Brazilian Grand Prix is as incident-free and unexciting as the Chinese Grand Prix.

1 comment:

AERO_HDT said...

Lots of truth to what you said there about the Glock/Trulli saga and I had always considered Trulli to be a vastly more experienced and skilled driver.

Until you pointed out that there were only 8 points separating the two drivers after almost a full season. It did indeed reiterate the point that young Timo has indeed done a superb job against a driver of greater exposure and depth.

I found the Chinese GP to be highly uneventful, I look forward to Brasil, where no doubt the Massa family will be doing their best to cheer on their doe-eyed son.

And so the championship is once again in Lewis' hands to lose.