Shanghai form card - Feature - F1 | ITV Sport
Tuesday, 13 April 2010 00:00
With three races behind us now, the 2010 championship is starting to take shape â€“ and what a wide open thriller it looks set to be, with three different teams winning the opening three rounds and a host of others snapping at their heels.
After a fortnight to catch breath following Melbourne and Sepang, the action resumes in China this weekend, so itv.com/f1 runs down all 24 drivers' form heading to round four.
1. Jenson Button (GB) - McLaren
Championship position: 4th, 35 points
Brilliant driving and brilliant judgement earned Button a shock Melbourne win, and although in a way it was back down to earth in Malaysia, significantly he was a match for Hamilton again in the race, at least until his tyres faded as Jenson's strategy proved over-ambitious. He's still McLaren's top man in the championship too. Just one ominous note: McLaren looked mighty in practice in Malaysia, but only with Hamilton as Button couldn't get a set-up that suited him. He'll want to ensure those problems continue to be dealt with in practice sessions.
Last five race results: 8th / 1st / 7th / 3rd / 5th
(most recent first)
2. Lewis Hamilton (GB) - McLaren
Championship position: 6th, 31 points
Few drivers mix genius and calamity like Hamilton does, as the last few weeks underlined again with some awe-inspiring race day charges and some messy incidents like his brush with the Melbourne traffic police and his qualifying under-performance in Australia. But when he's good, he's great - and it's always fun to watch him charge his way out of adversity. A straightforward win from the front this weekend would be no surprise.
Last five race results: 6th / 6th / 3rd / R / 3rd
3. Michael Schumacher (D) - Mercedes
Championship position: 10th, 9 points
It's not that Schumacher has been slow on his return - Rosberg's speed is under-rated so to be on his tail after a three-year lay-off and with relatively little testing is respectable. The concern is more that some very un-Schumacher-like things have been happening, like getting stuck behind a rookie for most of the Australian GP, or burning up his tyres too soon in Sepang Q3. It's taking time to shake the rust off his incredible racing instincts.
Last five race results: R / 10th / 6th / - / -
4. Nico Rosberg (D) - Mercedes
Championship position: 5th, 35 points
Is Rosberg driving out of his skin to put Schumacher in the shade, or has his legendary team-mate lost his edge? There was always the danger that if Rosberg did out-pace Schumacher, it would be seen as a failure for the latter not a triumph for the former. Either way, Rosberg is currently achieving something none of Schumacher's previous team-mates ever did - but his primary interest is in closing the slight gap between Mercedes and the winners.
Last five race results: 3rd / 5th / 5th / 9th / R
5. Sebastian Vettel (D) - Red Bull
Championship position: 3rd, 37 points
Vettel is back in business. A dominant win like his Sepang performance was always going to come sooner or later, and it was highly fortunate for Red Bull that it coincided with Ferrari and McLaren being flummoxed by the Malaysian weather and barely scoring. So with the questions over Red Bull's fragility silenced, is Vettel set to streak away now? His driving definitely seems to have got even better in 2010.
Last five race results: 1st / R / 4th / 1st / 4th / 1st
6. Mark Webber (AUS) - Red Bull
Championship position: 8th, 24 points
It could so easily have been Webber who straightened Red Bull's course by winning in Malaysia. His qualifying performance was astounding and there was little to choose between him and Vettel on race pace. But it was Vettel who snuck ahead at the start and set himself up for victory, and that's the kind of tiny swing that decides which driver ends up with championship momentum.
Last five race results: 2nd / 9th / 8th / 2nd / 1st
7. Felipe Massa (BRA) - Ferrari
Championship position: 1st, 39 points
Massa's championship lead is part stealth and partly because no one has really taken charge of this season yet. He's been competitive at every race, but the amount of time team-mate Alonso has spent stuck behind him suggests that Massa isn't Ferrari's pace-setter at present. But while the jury's still out on the effectiveness of his 2010 performances, you can't argue with his championship position.
Last five race results: 7th / 3rd / 2nd / - / -
8. Fernando Alonso (ESP) - Ferrari
Championship position: 2nd, 37 points
Everything has got a bit messy for Alonso since his serene Bahrain win, though in between being pushed into spins, queuing behind a slower team-mate, qualifying miscues and technical glitches, he's been supremely quick and as hard a racer as ever. Now he needs some trouble-free weekends, especially with Red Bull getting reliable and McLaren gaining speed.
Last five race results: R / 4th / 1st / 14th / R
9. Rubens Barrichello (BRA) - Williams
Championship position: 12th, 5 points
Williams adores Barrichello and thinks his attitude, experience and technical nous is exactly what it has been pining for in recent years. Hopefully it is also what the team needs to move forwards. There hasn't been too much wrong with its 2010 performances, but there's quite a gulf between Williams and the podium at present.
Last five race results: 12th / 8th / 10th / 4th / 8th
10. Nico Hulkenberg (D) - Williams
Championship position: 14th, 1 point
Hulkenberg scored his first point in Malaysia, but that milestone couldn't mask the fact that his F1 debut has so far been far less spectacular than anticipated. A great qualifying performance in wet qualifying at Sepang was a hint of what he can really do, but fading in the race - and being muscled aside by Alguersuari - was a disappointment. He's capable of much more than this.
Last five race results: 10th / R / 14th / - / -
11. Robert Kubica (POL) - Renault
Championship position: 7th, 30 points
Renault isn't quite fast enough to win races, but it's not a million miles away either, and its lead driver has a great knack of grasping any slight chance that falls his way. Kubica already looks like he will be this year's star underdog, and might even win before the season is out. He's certainly helping Renault get back on its feet after the misery of recent years.
Last five race results: 4th / 2nd / 11th / 10th / 2nd
12. Vitaly Petrov (RUS) - Renault
Championship position: 23rd, 0 points
Petrov could do with finishing some grands prix, but overall there's not too much wrong with his rookie efforts so far. He hasn't made too many mistakes, hasn't been embarrassingly slower than Kubica, and has shown plenty of spark in the races. He will only get better with more mileage behind him - which is why it's important he starts seeing the chequered flag.
Last five race results: R / R / R / - / -
14. Adrian Sutil (D) - Force India
Championship position: 9th, 10 points
He's been very quick all year, and in Malaysia Sutil finally had something to show for that speed. Often guilty of failing to turn qualifying heroics into actual points, his consistent run to fifth at Sepang underlined both his growing maturity and that his Force India team is now a top 10 threat anywhere.
Last five race results: 5th / R / 12th / 17th / R
15. Tonio Liuzzi (I) - Force India
Championship position: 11th, 8 points
Having come through from the midfield to snaffle some points in the races in the first two rounds, it was ironic that when Liuzzi did crack qualifying and reach Q3 in Malaysia, his car let him down after only a few laps. That should be just a blip, for Liuzzi has now firmly re-established himself as a deserving F1 presence. Sutil is still the Force India driver you look to for fireworks, though.
Last five race results: R / 7th / 9th / 15th / 11th
16. Sebastien Buemi (CH) - Toro Rosso
Championship position: 15th, 0 points
Having been undisputed top dog at Toro Rosso since seeing off Sebastien Bourdais, Buemi's intra-team supremacy came under threat rather when Alguersuari suddenly blossomed into a swashbuckling racer in Malaysia. Nevertheless Buemi has been on the brink of points all season, and flew in the wet in China last year.
Last five race results: 11th / R / 16th / 8th / 7th
17. Jaime Alguersuari (ESP) - Toro Rosso
Championship position: 13th, 2 points
There was a furore about his inexperience when he arrived in F1, and some raised eyebrows when he kept crashing at Suzuka last year, but Alguersuari has rarely been in the headlines for his performance - until now. He couldn't quite hold back Schumacher for the whole Australian GP, but what he learned in battle with the legend in Melbourne he put to good use at Sepang, which incredible passes on fellow young guns Petrov and Hulkenberg on his way to his first points.
Last five race results: 9th / 11th / 13th / R / 14th
18. Jarno Trulli (I) - Lotus
Championship position: 21st, 0 points
Ever the perfectionist, Trulli has admitted that the Lotus in its current very early stage of development simply does not work with his driving style, which is somewhat limited, his potential for giant-killing heroics. Winning the battle of the newcomers remains the aim for now.
Last five race results: 17th / R / 17th / 7th / R
19. Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) - Lotus
Championship position: 17th, 0 points
If there was an official class for the newcomers, Kovalainen would be leading it - and he has probably impressed most so far among all those struggling to get fledgling teams into contention. Whether a whole season of finishing around 15th in a car that should've been around 16th will be enough to get him back into a top team remains to be seen.
Last five race results: R / 13th / 15th / 11th / 12th
20. Karun Chandhok (IND) - Hispania
Championship position: 18th, 0 points
After getting next to no mileage in Bahrain, Chandhok has had a good chance to learn about F1 with two race finishes and some relatively straightforward practice and qualifying days recently. He's doing a sound job in trying circumstances, and had Senna on the back foot in Malaysia.
Last five race results: 15th / 14th / R / - / -
21. Bruno Senna (BRA) - Hispania
Championship position: 20th, 0 points
Senna managed his first race finish in Malaysia, but that weekend also marked the first time Chandhok had out-performed him in F1. With no sign that Hispania will be getting any quicker any time soon, the best thing for Senna's career prospects is to make sure he gets more from the tricky car than his friend across the garage.
Last five race results:16th / R / R / - / -
22. Pedro de la Rosa (ESP) - Sauber
Championship position: 16th, 0 points
Sauber isn't very fast - especially compared to how it performed in winter testing - and it breaks down more than any other established team. That's meant a frustrating return to the grid for de la Rosa so far. Peter Sauber said he signed the Spaniard for his experience and the technical know-how he absorbed during his long McLaren testing stint. Now he needs to put those skills to good use as Sauber tries to rebuild.
Last five race results: R / 12th / R /- / -
23. Kamui Kobayashi (J) - Sauber
Championship position: 22nd, 0 points
It's definitely harder to impress across a full season when you've created high expectations, than it is when you get a one-off, nothing to lose, chance as an unknown. That's something Kobayashi is finding out as Sauber's problems drag him down.
Last five race results: R / R / R / 6th / 9th
24. Timo Glock (D) - Virgin
Championship position: 24th, 0 points
Glock is taking the battle to emerge on top among the newcomers very seriously, and it's been nip and tuck between him and Kovalainen on pace so far in 2010. The problem comes in the races, where Glock didn't even give his fragile car a chance to break down in Malaysia before crashing into Trulli.
Last five race results:R / R / R / - / -
25. Lucas di Grassi (BRA) - Virgin
Championship position: 19th, 0 points
Some sceptics were starting to wonder if Virgin would finish a grand prix at all this year, especially when its fuel tank size gaffe came to light. But it didn't only get to the flag (just!) in Malaysia, it beat all the other new teams too. And it was di Grassi - previously its slower and even more unlucky driver, who made the breakthrough happen.
Last five race results: 14th / R / R / - / -
ITV.com/F1's top tips for Shanghai
If the weather hadn't shaken everything up, Hamilton would probably have carried his excellent practice form through to qualifying and the race at Sepang and won with relative ease. Shanghai has a lot in common with Sepang, and with even more upgrades on the way from McLaren, he's looking good for this race.
Star performer: Toro Rosso
If its ambitious and often spectacular young drivers can fully exploit STR's package without getting into trouble, plenty of points could be heading their way. Their car was very rapid at Sepang.
If McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull are all on song, they could pull clear of Mercedes - unless the silver squad has pulled anything out of its hat in the last fortnight.