Will Vettel reign again?

2011-04-16 20:06

Today marks the third race of the season and an ­attempt by Red Bull’s ­Sebastian Vettel to score a hat-trick.

This season is turning out to be rather exciting with uncalled ­penalties, a faulty kinetic energy ­regeneration system (KERS) and tyre ­problems.

There are many people out there who do not watch F1, so I am often asked by friends how I could possibly sit and watch a bunch of cars drive around a few laps and not get bored.

They are obviously more interested in the likes of soccer or cricket, hence some of them will still be asleep when this race starts at 8.30am today.

I always reply that F1 isn’t about who takes first place and who can make the fastest lap time.

It’s about the different driving ­dynamics, accidents on track, the technology of the cars and which driver surprises us weekly with their skill – like 23-year-old Vettel and his driving partner, Mark Webber, who have brought Red Bull up in the ranks.

A couple of years ago the team was always close to the bottom of the standings.

F1 is exciting and unpredictable.

Michael Schumacher is also a ­perfect example. Here is a man who has several championship titles under his belt, and is probably one of the best drivers F1 has ever seen. Yet, since his return from retirement, the champ has barely featured among the top finishers.

Personally, I think the old Ferrari used in previous seasons was a much better car than the one currently ­driven by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

Alonso has managed only fourth and sixth positions so far.

He had a difficult race in Malaysia ­because the drag-reduction system (DRS) on his car’s rear wing stopped working towards the end of the race.

He also clashed with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, leading to a 20­second post-race penalty for causing an avoidable collision.

Then there is the KERS, which has been causing a lot of trouble for the leading team.

This is a power boost drawn from the energy saved under braking. Even with Red Bull’s faulty system, they have still managed to win at the ­Malaysian GP.

So whether they have sorted their problem out on both their cars or not, Vettel will be driving fast enough to make three wins in a row.

According to F1.com the 5.4km Shanghai International Circuit is shaped like the Chinese character “shang”, which means “high” or “above”.

The first corner needs to be taken at full throttle in seventh gear before the driver gears down quickly as the bend tightens.

There is a bump on the entry just to make things more interesting, and it goes on and on.

The two long straights present ­drivers with good opportunities to overtake as they need to brake from speeds of 320km/h.

Pirelli’s PZero tyres have seen an increase of rubber “marbles” that have been shed on the circuit during Grands Prix.

F1.com further states that these strips of rubber weigh between 10 and 20 grams but have always existed in the sport.

The characteristics of ­Pirelli’s compounds, however, mean the pieces are larger and softer than those seen in the past.

After last weekend’s race some drivers voiced concerns about the marbles, which can compromise grip when moving off line to overtake.

Pirelli has promised to reduce the number of marbles in future.

The company also expects today’s cooler temperatures and the track’s less abrasive surface to see a tyre wear ­reduction of 30%.

The Grand Prix in Shanghai promises to be a ­thriller and will keep me excited to see who makes it to the podium.


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