JENSON BUTTON emerged victorious from an eventful Shanghai Grand Prix. The 2010 event saw a mixture of the type of events that makes F1 exciting. From jumped starts, accidents, slippery conditions to pit lane dog fights and penalties, Shanghai had it all, writes John O’Brien.
Qualifying produced a familiar looking grid, with Red Bull Racing locking out the front row and a mixture of Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes all jostling for position behind them.
Come race day and the sunny conditions that basked the circuit on Saturday where gone. The ominous clouds that had been uttered about around the paddock earlier in the day, where now looming north of the circuit. As the procession laps took place, the rain came.
With fans clambering for water proof jackets, the teams were also scrambling for wet tyres and an altered race strategy.
As the light smattering of rain continued, the lights dropped to green. Alonso proved overly keen to vault the RBR’s of Vettel and Webber and subsequently jumped the start.
As the field filtered its way through the first complex of bends, it was Liuzzi that came unstuck first. Locking up into a turn saw him spin the car 180° and firing the car across the track backwards, collecting the BMW Sauber of Kobayashi, Torro Rosso of Buemi and narrowly missing the Williams of Barrichello.
This incident brought out the safety car, prompting the leading pack to pit in the hope of persistent rain. Just Rosberg and Button chose to stay out on their original sets. Hamilton had made the late change to wets, but just three laps later, they had degraded to the point were slicks were once again required.
In coming into the pits, Hamilton found himself jostling with Vettel for position, a battle that extended into the pit lane, through the respective stops and out again.
With both drivers getting sideways on their exit from the pit lane box, questions were soon asked about Hamilton purposefully being released into Vettels path. A battle that continued with Vettel moving across on Hamilton forcing him into other teams pit bays.
Once the pit lane feud had been resolved, it was Hamilton who emerged the victorious, dispatching both RBR’s in one swift movement.
Up front, Rosberg and Button were continuing untroubled by what was occurring further down the field, steadily pulling out a healthy lead over those in their wake. Lap 18 saw Button make a rare mistake allowing Rosberg to extend his lead to 4.5s over the reigning champion.
However, the following lap saw the favour return, with Rosberg leaving the circuit on one of the final turns allowing Button to not only reclaim the deficit, but also take the lead. These two mistakes were direct results of the rain that was now gaining strength.
The weather prompted yet another round of pitstops around lap 20, with the majority of the field pilling into the pits to switch to intermediates. Events continued to unfold on lap 21, with Alguersuari loosing the nose cone to his Torro Rosso resulting in a safety car period of 4 laps whilst the debris was cleared.
The safety car meant mixed fortunes for the pack, Button lost his imposing lead, but his team mate also lost his 40s deficit to the leaders.
As the safety car pulled off on lap 25, Button backed the pack up to the extent that Hamilton had to leave the circuit to avoid hitting Webber in front of him.
Half distance saw Hamilton climbing through the pack rapidly. He was quickly up behind Rosberg, the McLarens straight line advantage, meant he was able to dispose of Kubica with ease.
Hamilton did not stop there, disposing Rosberg with the same move he put on Schumacher only laps earlier, he was now only 4.7s behind his team mate and had victory in his sights. However, Rosberg did not roll over and admit defeat, regaining his place. As the two fought out for second, Button quietly slipped into the distance and pulled out another 2s over the battling pair.
Hamilton chose to switch tyres on lap 37, a lap before the rest of the pack and as a result, leapfrogged Rosberg into second.
This is how it stayed until the end, apart from the gap between the two growing and receding as quickly as the weather changed. At one point, Button was almost 10s in front of the 2008 champion, but as his tyres degraded, he found himself being reigned in. A mistake into the hairpin saw him tip toe to the flag just 1.5s infront of his team mate.
Alonso recovered from a dismal start to finish fourth, with Kubica, Vettel, Petrov, Webber, Massa and Schumacher rounding out the top ten.
The victory sees the reigning champion claim the lead in the 2010 championship by 10 points over Rosberg, with Hamilton joint third with Alonso.