F1 2010

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes rules podium in Shanghai F1 thriller !

18-4-2010, Shanghai - Cairo

McLaren had lots of headlines this week in the international and Middle Eastern media. Not only is McLaren Automotive considering a new headquarter in Bahrain, but also the Vodafone McLaren F1 Team managed to score a One-Two victory at the China F1 GP today.

With a do-or-die attitude Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver and 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button won today the F1 Grand Prix of China, with his teammate 2008 Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton taking the second spot on the podium.

Rain converted the race in China into a thriller as Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg held off Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to finish third with Renault's Robert Kubica in fifth.

Button's win means he leads the drivers' championship by 10 points. Despite starting at the front of the grid, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber finished sixth and eighth.

Kubica's team-mate Vitaly Petrov completed an impressive day for Renault when he overtook Webber late on to take seventh position and six points.

Jenson Button had won the Australian Grand Prix after an early swap to slick tyres proved crucial, and today it was again such a superior strategic decision by the 2009 F1 World Champion which secured him the victory at the Chinese F1 GP.

Meanwhile, Hamilton once again proved his class when climbing the field. The Vodafone McLaren driver made four pit stops throughout the race in comparison to Jenson Button's two stops, but still managed to fight back and pick up a vital 18 points.

Mercedes GP driver Nico Rosberg, challenged hard by Alonso in the closing stages, again out-performed team-mate Michael Schumacher who finished tenth, while Red Bull driver Marc Webber and Sebastian Vettel were immensely disappointed with their race performance after failing to coin their superior start positions (P1 for Sebastian Vettel, P2 for Mark Webber) into vital championship points.

Elsewhere, Ferrari's Felipe Massa fell from leading the driver's championship to sixth place after finishing ninth in China and passing Michael Schumacher in the final stages of the race.

With rain starting as the drivers lined up on the grid, the race got off to a manic start. Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso leapfrogged the rest of the field by a jump start, overtaking the Red Bulls who had started at the front of the grid , and therefore had to serve a drive through penalty.

On the first corner Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi slided across the track to take out Virgin's Timo Glock, Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso with a strike, meaning the safety car was deployed.

This crucial yellow flag affected the cars and within a short period of time a complete re-arrangement of the Formula 1 cars took place, as rain forced the vast majority of drivers to switch for intermediate tyres before, two laps later, the same cars headed back in to change to slicks in a both time consuming and race-determining event.

Those double pit stops allowed Nico Rosberg, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button and Renault driver Robert Kubica, who did not follow the mainstream of cars to pits and instead stayed on soft tyres, to slip into the podium positions and establish a 50-second lead.
Behind the leaders a thrilling battle erupted between Vodafone McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull driver Sebastain Vettel as they fought to climb back into the leading spots.

First the duo battled on entrance into the pit before, as they were released out of the pits at the same time, the pair went wheel-to-wheel in a tense exchange before Vettel pulled away, while Lewis Hamilton loosed precious time by slightly sliding after being released by the pit crew.

The face-off continued and at the hairpin on Turn 14, when Lewis Hamilton jumped Force India's Adrian Sutil and Vettel with an faultlessly timed pass, which put the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes up to sixth position.

But the rain continued, thus squeezing all possible action of a complete season into one grand prix.

At the end of lap 22 tire-puncturing debris spread on the race track from Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari's broken front wing forced the safety car out for a second time, almost eliminating the heard-earned time buffer of the leading cars.

That almost ruined the comfortable lead of Vodafone McLaren driver Jenson Button, who had been working very hard to establish it after overtaking Rosberg - and the Englishman subsequently put the field closer together again.

With clouds full of rain, rising behind the cars the second half of the race saw Lewis Hamilton focusing on obtaining the lead.

Vodafone McLaren driver Hamilton flow past the Renaults before launching his challenge on Rosberg, until a fourth pit stop again demoted the Briton's position.

However, Nico Rosberg's second pit stop handed Lewis Hamilton the opportunity to pull through in front of the German and set his sights on his team-mate.

The two Vodafone McLaren drivers looked after their tyres through the closing stages, to finish just one second apart and seal a convincing victory for their team.

For Vodafone McLaren driver Jenson Button a second win in only his fourth Grand Prix for McLaren means he leads the championship going into the Spanish Grand Prix - confident in the knowledge that in the last 20 seasons the driver leading after four rounds has won the Championship on 15 occasions.

McLaren already had plenty of headlines in the Middle East media this week, when they announced they will open a headquarter in Bahrain for its production car division. The UK sports car company, McLaren Automotive, has announced plans to set up its regional head office in Bahrain. The new office will provide distributor-side management, marketing and support functions for the sports car manufacturer. Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding has a 42% stake in McLaren Group as well as a 50% stake in McLaren Automotive.

As far as I am concerned it would have been better to open a headquarter in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, especially since the Bahrain headquarter of the German Porsche tuner RUF did not manage to be successful in operating from Bahrain. The UAE definitely proved to be the capital of automotive and motorsport activities in the region.


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