Jenson Button has won the Formula 1 2010 Chinese Grand Prix with a fine drive in a wet race.
The Briton beat his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, into second place, while Nico Rosberg of Mercedes made up the podium in an entertaining race in China.
It is oft regarded a British pastime to complain about rain, however, after recording his second victory in another wet GP, Jenson Button seems like one Brit who would not be too concerned if it rained every Sunday for the rest of the year, such is his prowess in wet conditions.
Today’s was a race won with the mind as much as any driving ability, however, as Button took the right decisions at the right times with his tyres, and conserved the grip he had left by allowing the margin he built up to be eaten away. The seemingly chalk and cheese driving style he and his fellow countryman Hamilton have was borne out in the tyre wear they produced.
That being said, you could have sneezed in the time it took these two men to pass the chequered flag, and Button drove well enough to be allowed one slip – a four second foray onto the additional tarmac, and across the grass to rejoin – in the closing stages of this race as his tyres fell away.
It was tentative stuff at the end of the race for all but Petrov – who was a revelation in only his fourth Grand Prix and perhaps produced the drive of the day to make a number of passes and finish in seventh place, notably causing the usually unflinching Mark Webber to engage full opposite lock to unsuccessfully attempt to defend his position from the young Russian Renault driver.
As intermediate tyres lost their tread, everyone had troubles, but none more than Hamilton and Schumacher who seemed to lose grip earlier than any, as the abrasive Chinese circuit took its toll on soft rubber.
Heavy rain near the end of the race would surely have spelt trouble for the front four. As it was, the rain only picked up on the final lap, and Button brought his twitchy McLaren machine home ahead of Hamilton, still pushing hard as ever, on his badly balding set of tyres.
The relief around the McLaren camp was palpable as their drivers were not exactly nursing themselves home in pushing each other to the flag.
This was a race full of incident and intrigue, as so many in the wet can tend to be. For the drivers and the teams these slower wet races where grip is a constant battle are a huge headache. For fans of the sport, races such as today’s 2010 China Grand Prix are superb entertainment as spins and slips are regular, and overtaking becomes an option as faster cars follow slower cars at various stages of the race. Safety cars which bring everyone back together always add excitement too, and so it would prove today, as the safety car appeared on two vital occassions.
Wet races are won with perfect strategies, and not a little luck, too. Both of which seem to follow Button around – he seems to be the wiser of the two in McLaren’s team. For raw pace, Hamilton can hook up his car from time-to-time, but he seems to need everything to fall into place for him, or be provided by his team. Button seems better able to take charge of his own destiny, making the right call on tyres, and protecting his set of four when he has done so with phenomenal “feel” for the car.
As a pair, this makes Button and Hamilton absolutely enthralling to witness – everything that was said and thought prior to this season seems to be true, except for one, vital ommission made by many: as well as the guile and the craft, Button has incredible speed when it counts too. He is looking like perhaps the better all around package.
What Button and McLaren must hope for, however, is better performance in the dry. Red Bull have opposite problems: they are super-quick under ordinary conditions, but seem unable to set their car up for anything else.
For fans of Formula 1, however, this makes for an entertaining season, where nature comes into play too. Nature might well be throwing more than a few spanners into the teams’ travel plans this week as ash clouds hover over Europe, too, so it is good that those on the track today made the sport about one thing alone: a race.
As entertainment comes, this was excellent: Alonso stopped four times, and had a 10 second penalty, yet still managed to push Mercedes’ forgotten man Nico Rosberg hard for his third place. Rosberg produced another strong entirely solid performance which yet again outstripped his famous German teammate’s disappointing tenth place.
For Schumacher it is a sad realisation of what many of us feared when the announcement of his return to the sport came in the winter. The greatest driver is adding nothing to his career at present, and it has to be hoped that he either has a turnaround of fortunes soon, or rethinks the decision to return to the sport that he once dominated to prevent any lasting memory of the 2010 season featuring many more inglorious results such as today’s derisory point.
McLaren must enjoy their rain kings, but, as qualifying showed them this weekend, they still have a little to find on Red Bull in terms of raw pace in the dry if their men are to retain, and improve upon, current World Championship standings. For the moment, however, Hamilton sits at the top of the tree in his effort to retain his World Title, with 60 points. After today’s fine drive, none can argue with that.
There are at least two British men who will be quite happy with another sodden summer.
Chinese Grand Prix 2010 Race result:
- Button – McLaren
- Hamilton – McLaren
- Rosberg – Mercedes
- Alonso – Ferrari
- Kubica – Renault
- Vettel – Red Bull
- Petrov – Renault
- Webber – Red Bull
- Massa – Ferrari
- Schumacher – Mercedes
- Sutil – Force India
- Barrichello – Williams
- Alguersuari – Toro Rosso
- Kovalainen – Lotus
- Hulkenberg – Williams
- Senna – Hispania
- Chanhock – Hispania
Current Formula 1 Drivers World Championship Standings:
- Jenson Button – 60 Points
- Nico Rosberg – 50 Points
- Lewis Hamilton – 49 Points
- Fernando Alonso – 49 Points
- Sebastian Vettal – 45 Points
- Filipe Massa – 41 Points
- Robert Kubica – 40 Points
- Mark Webber – 28 Points
Current Formula 1 Constructors World Championship Standings:
- McLaren-Mercedes – 109 Points
- Ferrari – 90 Points
- RBR-Renault – 73 Points
- Mercedes GP – 60 Points
- Renault – 46 Points
- Force India-Mercedes – 18 Points
- Williams-Cosworth – 6 Points
- STR-Ferrari – 2 Points