Shanghai 2015: No surprises
Alike McLaren, I have some delay, and we will see whether, coming back to Europe, I get up to date…
China’s race broadcasting spent almost as much time focusing on McLaren as on Mercedes. And no wonder… The red menace to the silver dominion produced a decaf-show, no milk, no nothing. With a car slower than that of the rivals, what would you think the best option to not win the race? Exactly! That chosen by Ferrari: to carbon-copy Mercedes’ strategy.
So while Mercedes and Ferrari spread boredom playing fool cat and lazy mouse, the producers had to seek excitement elsewhere. They found it in the duels on the track and in the pits between Perez and Hülkenberg — pity that the gearbox betrayed the German ten laps with just ten laps to go — . In the stream of spectacular overtakings that Verstappen entertained us with during the morning; he would had signed a glorious career if the Renault engine had died on him, again. And in the comeback that the McLarens forged with two different strategies; and good for McLaren, because racing in middle of the grid is often better to diversify options.
They gave Button the defensive option: making up positions with two first stints on the fastest tires and, on the third, defend the gains with slow ones. Alonso got the aggressive option: he started with the softs to have fair chances on the early stages of the race, continued with a long second stint minimising the damage with medium tires — that were slower than expected — and, for the last stint, he put another set of softs to finish the race on the attack, with fresh tires, low fuel, the fishing rod at the ready and a the knife between his teeth.
Given the top speed deficit McLaren has, I do not think Alonso’s strategy optimal was optimal to try overtaking his rivals on the track at the end of the race. Still, the Spaniard made the best of it and, a few laps after his last pitstop, got in Button’s wake. The McLarens set a strong pace, while those in front abandoned with mechanical problems. They were thirteenth and fourteenth when they stumbled upon Maldonado. The Venezuelan suffered with the lairy Lotus and old rubber. His aggressive defences ended up unhinging Button. The Englishman made a mistake and rammed him at entrance to the first corner. Gain for Alonso, who sidestepped the mess and cantered to twelfth.
McLaren continues to improve. Its race pace and good manners in the corners speak of a chassis that should begin to shine as soon as the Honda engine starts spinning at full capacity. For now, finishing the race with both cars and fighting in the midfield makes for giant leap from the first race results.
For Bahrain, with only a week in between, we cannot expect miracles … How good am I making predictions in retrospect …
Translation from the Spanish original published in Antibiographía on April 29, 2015 under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.