Nightmare Chinese Grand Prix for rookies
Three rookies left Shanghai hugely disappointed, and at least one shell-shocked, after a Chinese Grand Prix that was decidedly cruel to them early on in their respective Formula 1 careers.
After a forgettable debut at the Australian Grand Prix, Williams teenager Lance Stroll bounced back with a good showing in qualifying for the race in China, tenth quickest.
But race day was a short-lived affair for the billionaire’s son. On the opening lap, he and Sergio Perez were aiming for the same piece of tarmac, when the front wheel of the Force India tagged the rear right wheel of the Williams.
The impact sent Stroll off into the gravel where the Williams remained beached, his race run, “I was hit from the rear at Turn 10 and that was the end of my race. I was in front, knew the corner was mine and had to turn in eventually.”
“It was just unfortunate as that was my race over. I got hit and then the car was broken, most likely with a puncture and damaged suspension,” lamented the 18 year old.
The incident prompted a virtual yellow as the marshals cleared the debris.
On lap three, shortly after the virtual yellow period ended, Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Sauber, exiting the final turn, when it snapped on a wet patch and speared into the wall at high speed.
The Sauber came to a stop, a steaming wreck in the middle of the track. The safety car was deployed to clear the debris.
It was the second time in 24 hours that the Ferrari reserve severley wrecked the Sauber he has taken over from injured Pascal Wehrlein. During qualifying he also lost control exiting the very same turn, ending up in the wall. Report here>>>
If not in place already, it would be no surprise if Sauber slap a ‘you break it, you pay for it’ clause in the contract the team has with his minders. It was a very expensive weekend for the Swiss team…
Giovinazzi said afterwards, “I want to apologize again to the team. They did a great job to get the car ready for the race. It was a shame that I crashed again today. A learning lesson – I just want to forget this weekend quickly.”
Thankfully Stoffel Vandoorne did not end up in the litter or in the wall, but his race was also short as the woeful McLaren-Honda package again did him no favours.
On Saturday the Belgian qualified 16th, half a second off the pace of his teammate Fernando Alonso and by lap 17, of the race on Sunday, he was climbing out of his car with a DNF penned next to his name.
Vandoorne explained, “On lap 17 we lost power – I don’t really know exactly the reason – but I think it was a fuel problem. It’s a shame we couldn’t get to the finish today – the potential was there and the car felt quite competitive in the corners compared to the cars I was racing against.”
“I felt the power drop and I could feel immediately we had very low power. It’s not ideal, and obviously I would have liked to go to the end.”
The new era cars have done this year’s rookies no favours – faster and more challenging to drive – it is thus no surprise that the official results sheets of the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix show Vandoorne, Giovinazzi and Stroll, bottom of the list, in 18th, 19th and 20th respectively.