April 10, 2013

Mercedes in China

Shanghai is known for offering a surprise or two © Getty Images

The Shanghai International Circuit may have been designed by Hermann Tilke, but – much like Sepang before it – has been known to throw up some pretty good races over the years. At points the 2012 race looked like it could have been an early win for Lotus, but then poor tyre strategy cost Kimi Raikkonen the best part of ten places over the course of a single lap. Nico Rosberg went on to claim his – and Mercedes’ – maiden win.

Mercedes-powered cars have performed well in Shanghai since the track opened for business in 2004, claiming eleven podium finishes in nine years, including four wins and two 1-2-3s.

Given that Shanghai can throw up the odd surprise, I was wondering whether this might turn out to be Force India’s weekend. I’m not going to go quite so far as to suggest the team’s first victory will take place on Sunday, but a podium finish is not beyond the realm of possibility.

While both cars were retired from the Malaysian Grand Prix following a painful series of wheel nut errors in the pits, when out on track the cars were running well. Particularly impressive was Paul di Resta, who lost a lot of time stuck in the pits behind a stricken Adrian Sutil, but managed to drive himself back into contention before being forced to call it quits.

Even better was their performance in Australia, with Sutil leading the race on two separate occasions on his F1 return.

Whether it’s down to ingenuity from the staff back at their Silverstone base, that McLaren technology partnership finally reaping dividends, or some combination of the two, Force India look to have delivered one of the more interesting of the midfield cars, and the only one to have so far shown it is more than capable of mixing with the frontrunners on occasion.

It’s early days yet, with teams the length of the pitlane still trying to figure out how to make the most of their tyres and basic packages. Before the development race kicks off in earnest is when the smaller teams – smaller-budgeted teams, that is – have the best chance of upsetting the big boys.

A Force India on the podium on Sunday? You read it here first…


Posted by Kate Walker on 15/04/2013

How wrong I was... But who knows what Sutil would have done were it not for the Gutierrez crash?

Posted by Brian G on 10/04/2013

Would love to see Force Indias and/or Saubers on the podium. Nice to see some of the underdogs up there. Wouldn't mind a Williams as well. Now if F1 could get two more teams to create more excitment.

Posted by Jaume on 10/04/2013

Hi, And Jaume Alguersuari should be at tthe wheel of one of those cars. What´s going on (or not going on, so far), with guy?? He´s potencially WChampion... Thks!! (you read it here first...;) ).

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Kate Walker is the editor of GP Week magazine and a freelance contributor to ESPN. A member of the F1 travelling circus since 2010, her unique approach to Formula One coverage has been described as 'a collection of culinary reviews and food pictures from exotic locales that just happen to be playing host to a grand prix'. Kate Walker