Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chinese Grand Prix

Chinese Grand Prix
Sunday 19 October 2008

Track: 5.45 km
Laps: 56

All week there has been a build up, perhaps sparked by the media but not so far denied, of animosity towards Lewis Hamilton from other top Formula 1 drivers. The situation has surfaced following Fernando Alonso’s comments that “without doubt, if I can help, I will help” to support Felipe Massa’s bid for the championship. Massa is being diplomatic, saying only: “I am not going to take problems on the track off it”. Team mate Kimi Raikkonen however, is a little more explicit. Referring to last weekend’s first corner clash with Hamilton and Kovaleinen, he said: "I have no idea what the drivers behind me were thinking. They braked so late that it was impossible to avoid the following chaos." Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW), who is currently lying third in the Championship says that Hamilton is too aggressive.

This could be just sour grapes from those who have been out-raced and out-manoeuvred by the British driver but it certainly didn’t stop Hamilton from pulling out another storming qualifier to take pole position for tomorrow’s race. As he said before the qualifying session: “I do my talking on the track. If other people want to expend their energy thinking about it, that’s for them.”

Hamilton will have the Ferraris of Raikkonen and Massa on his tail from the start tomorrow. Behind them will be Alonso who, after recent remarks, will no doubt be closely watched by the stewards! Heikki Kovaleinen (McLaren) is ahead of Sebastian Vettel(Toro Rosso), who has already shown that he is capable of upsetting the leaders at the slightest chance. In seventh is Jarno Trulli (Toyota), followed by Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso) and Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW), who qualified sixth but was penalised for slowing David Coulthard. Mark Webber

By this time last year, Hamilton had scored 107 points and was 12 points clear of team-mate Alonso. This year, with a far slimmer margin, we are seeing a far more polished driver who should be better able to deliver results.

The forecast? There is a chance of showers during the race which starts at 08.00
and can be seen (in Catalan) on TV3. A repeat is usually shown on CH33 at 22.00.

The grid line-up:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
3 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
4 Fernando Alonso (Renault)
5 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
6 Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso)
7 Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
8 Sebastian Bourdais (Toro Rosso)
9 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW)
10 Nelsinho Piquet (Renault)

Top six after 16 races:
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 84
2 Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 79
3 Robert Kubica (Sauber BMW) 72
4 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 63
5 Nick Heidfeld (Sauber BMW) 56
6 Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 51

Mike O’Neill

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