The Renault RS27 engine powered Lotus F1 Team’s Kimi Raikkonen to second position in a nail-biting Chinese Grand Prix today.
The 2007 world champion and winner of the Australian Grand Prix finished 10secs behind winner Fernando Alonso and 2secs ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who claimed the final podium position. Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel retained the lead of the drivers’ championship with fourth place, just 0.2secs from Hamilton in a thrilling photo finish. Romain Grosjean put the second Lotus F1 Team E21 into the points in ninth, giving a total haul of 32 points for the Renault engined teams.
The twists and turns of the Shanghai International Circuit made tyre wear and tyre strategy the story of the day. Alonso and Raikkonen were amongst those to start on the soft tyre and make early stops, while Vettel made his stop for the soft compound with just five laps to go. The result was a closely fought battle right to the final lap.
After his issue in qualifying yesterday, Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber started from the pitlane. The Australian was back in the midfield by lap 16, however when he tried to overtake Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne the two touched. Webber’s front wing was damaged but after returning to the pits his right rear tyre became detached and he retired.
Williams F1 Team finished with Pastor Maldonado 13th, just 1.6secs ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas. The team opted to split strategies with both cars running a three-stop race but with Pastor starting on the soft option tyre while Valtteri started on the prime, choosing to run the option for his final stint. Caterham F1 Team again battled throughout the race with the Marussias of Bianchi and Chilton. Charles Pic passed the flag in 16th, while Giedo van der Garde came home in 18th, splitting the two Marussias.
Sebastian Vettel continues to lead the drivers’ championship, however the gap has closed to just three points over Kimi Raikkonen. Infiniti Red Bull Racing is five points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’ title race, while Lotus is third.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
Congratulations to Lotus and Kimi for the podium – they’ve had a productive weekend and deserved to score some decent points. Although it’s not ultimately what Red Bull would have hoped for coming into the weekend, to have Sebastian finishing under half a second from the podium with the starting position he had has got to be positive and sees the team lead both championships. Behind them is very tight, with Lotus and Ferrari just a few points behind, which is great for us – having two Renault-engined teams fighting for position is very positive.
As expected – and yet again – the race proved to be all about tyre wear so we have to work particularly hard to deliver power smoothly and efficiently to keep the car stable. It’s not easy with the slow speed corners and heavy braking zones we have at the Shanghai International Circuit, but we have to live with it and help our teams wherever possible.
Bahrain presents a very different challenge to here, but one that is no less difficult, so we’ll do what we can in the short break between races and come out again strongly with all our teams.