Auto Manifesto

October 19, 2008

F1: Chinese Grand Prix

It was a good, clean start. Fernando Alonso gets by Heikki Kovalainen for fourth place. Jarno Trulli and Sebastian Bourdais collide. Lewis Hamilton sets the pace, followed by the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa.

I don’t understand why the broadcast team at Speed TV thinks Felipe Massa getting second place to Hamilton’s first would put him in a strong position for the Brazil Grand Prix, the next and final race. Finishing like that he’d be 7 points behind Hamilton.

Ferrari look very strong for the Constructor’s title but the Driver’s title is a whole different matter.

Based on initial pace it looked like Hamilton was light on fuel and Massa not as much. It turns out it was in fact the other way around, which favored Hamilton.

Kovalainen’s right front tire fails and he has to limp it back to the pits. The crew put on a new set and off he goes. He’s on a heavier fuel load than teammate Hamilton but has not been able to keep up.

After the second round of stops Raikkonen (on soft tires) is seen checking his mirrors for Massa (on hard tires). He will in all likelihood let Massa by since he is out of contention for the Driver’s title and Massa is not.

It’s also a possibility that Raikkonen has not pushed Hamilton harder due to having to maintain station to Massa in order to orchestrate a ‘pass’ since team orders are technically not allowed. Ferrari might have chosen to do this in order to maximize team points and limit damage to Massa’s title chances.

With eight laps to go Massa goes by Raikkonen, having steadily gained on him over the preceding 10 laps or so. In the end Kovalainen parks his McLaren Hamilton wins, followed by Massa, Raikkonen, Alonso (Renault), and the BMWs of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica. The Renault has improved tremendously over the course of the season.

Kubica is now out of contention for the Driver’s title, Hamilton leads by 7 points over Massa, and Ferrari leading the Constructor’s title by 11 points with one race remaining.

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