The Citizen (KZN)

What a cracker in China!

SHANGHAI PROVES THAT OVERTAKING IS STILL VERY POSSIBLE Ecclestone is expected to make a bid to buy the iconic Sao Paulo F1 track.

- John Floyd

After last Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, Sky Sport F1 commentato­r Martin Brundle enthused saying that there had been “Some cracking overtaking today” when talking to Mercedes Benz’s Lewis Hamilton on the podium.

He was not the only one to show enthusiasm,

Hamilton said, “This race is so real” and his main protagonis­t, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, said, “I had a very exciting race, and really enjoyed it.”

Third placed Max Verstappen was also smiling.

He had driven the wheels off his Red Bull coming from the back of the grid and was awarded Driver of the Day.

In fact the atmosphere on the podium was electric with all three drivers and Brundle obviously in high spirits.

Rightly so – the Chinese Grand Prix was a cracker. After the gloomy prediction­s of the last few weeks the Shanghai circuit demonstrat­ed that overtaking is very possible, though more difficult than previously due to increased turbulence f r o m the car ahead. Verstappen proved this on the first lap with his unbelievab­le drive from 16th position on the grid. In one lap he passed 11 cars to reach seventh. Vettel was another who pulled off excellent moves when passing Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo and his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. The number of overtakes may not have been as high as last year but they were real moves showing ingenuity, courage and determinat­ion.

One aspect that confuses me is Ferrari’s strategies.

In Melbourne they worked perfectly with Vettel taking the win, but Shanghai was another story.

The move that brought Vettel in to change to slicks during a Virtual Safety Car period was a good call, but the subsequent safety car period was unpredicta­ble and the consequenc­es cost the German any chance of victory.

What baffled me was the Maranello pit wall attitude to Raikkonen.

The Finn is known for his audible complaints during races and last Sunday was no exception, but this time he was justified.

The situation regarding his tyres and loss of adhesion were certainly a legitimate cause for concern. Despite several calls to his engineer a response was not forthcomin­g. He rightly became more irate until he was called into the pits for the much needed tyre change but after 39 laps of a 56 lap race. Rejoining he was back on pace but the damage was done and fifth was the best he could achieve. Strange how he can be so blistering­ly quick in practice, yet falls away in qualifying and the race. Sunday’s speed differenti­al between cars segmented the field but there were amazing battles throughout. The race results also equalized the driver’s points at the front, a promising situation for the year. This weekend the F1 circus moves to Bahrain, another track where we can expect to see drivers finding a path around their rivals. This will be the last Malaysian Grand Prix, after a statement from Liberty’s commercial chief Sean Bratches. Escalating costs and decreasing ticket sales means the Malaysian government will no longer fund it. Despite an existing contract for a further year, agreement has been reached between the promoters and Formula 1 to make 2017 the finale.

So it is goodbye to Sepang, but next season will see the return of both the German and French Grands Prix as part of the proposed 21 race calendar.

Fascinatin­g news is the proposed bid to buy the Interlagos circuit from the Sao Paulo government.

The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace is owned by the city and the sale is necessary to ensure the continuati­on of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

For some time there have been doubts over the future of the iconic track, particular­ly the outdated facilities. Former F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone had issued veiled threats to the promoters intimating the future of the Grand Prix could be in doubt.

Now this is where it becomes interestin­g. The city’s mayor, Joao Doria, told Reuters that Ecclestone is expected to make an offer.

With a Brazilian wife and a ranch in Brazil it is a possibilit­y, but Ecclestone expects a rival bid from Liberty Media.

The 86-year-old said, “I haven’t made any commitment­s. We’ll wait and see. I think they are probably going to think about it.”

If Ecclestone were to be the successful bidder one has to wonder if he will be out to negotiate a more realistic hosting fee from F1’s new owners.

 ??  ?? STRANGE. Kimi Raikkonen pleaded for a tyre change last Sunday, but Ferrari kept him out on track for 39 laps in a 56-lap race, and dropped him out of contention. Why?
STRANGE. Kimi Raikkonen pleaded for a tyre change last Sunday, but Ferrari kept him out on track for 39 laps in a 56-lap race, and dropped him out of contention. Why?
 ??  ?? HAPPINESS. Max Verstappen was chosen as the Driver of the Day in China.
HAPPINESS. Max Verstappen was chosen as the Driver of the Day in China.

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