This weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix has huge weight on its shoulders after a scintillating race in Bahrain two weeks ago that left fans salivating at the prospect of a new era of close racing.
Bahrain featured epic wheel-to-wheel battles throughout the field, not least of which involved runaway points leaders Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton who ducked and weaved their respective Mercedes within microns of each other in a scene reminiscent of the sport’s bygone heydays.
The spectacle ended with the team’s third win in three races and also its second one-two result, and Mercedes now leads the constructor’s championship by 64 points. Force India, McLaren, reigning champs Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams (in that order) all look to be fighting for scraps further down the table.
The Silver Arrows seem to have found a setup sweet-spot under 2014’s drastically revised regulations, and the Mercs are consistently at least one full second quicker per lap than their nearest rivals. There’s no reason to expect anything other than status quo at the Shanghai International circuit on Sunday, as competitor teams will likely continue to grapple with pace and reliability issues.
Ferrari’s disastrous start to the year led to the resignation of team boss Stefano Domenicali this week. The Italian’s seven year tenure began with a constructors’ title in 2008, but no driver ever won a championship under his reign.
“It is time for a significant change,” said Domenicali. “As the boss I take responsibility”.
Ferrari is the most successful team in F1 history, with a record 15 drivers’ and 16 constructors’ titles, but its last win was nearly a year ago when Alonso won his home race in Spain. Interestingly, Alonso also won this Chinese round last year.
Ferrari’s North American CEO Marco Mattiacci will assume control of the team from this weekend’s Chinese GP.
The FIA also upheld its decision to disqualify Daniel Ricciardo from the season-opener in Australia after a hearing this week. The Red Bull driver finished the race second, but was later excluded for breaching fuel-flow regulations.