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Formula 1 - Race 3 Shanghai, China

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Like Mike

22nd April 2009 - During the week, the drama of the legal or illegal diffusers was finally resolved with the governing body hearing, in court, all sides of the story and deciding in the end that they are legal. So, with that news, there was a mad dash from the seven teams who don’t have the diffusers to get their own versions of the device installed onto their cars. Three teams, however, must have had rather large smiles after the verdict as they got to keep all their points from the first two races.

After the teams’ mechanics had finished working long and crazy hours throughout the night setting up the new systems, the qualifying began with most teams still not really sure how things would pan out with these new devices, although the overriding thought was that Brawn would continue their dominance. It didn’t work out that way though as this new season again showed some major surprises.

The first surprise was Robert Kubica, of BMW Sauber, not getting through the first qualifying session that sees the bottom five teams drop out. That’s three races in a row now that a top driver has not made it through the first qualifying session - Hamilton in race 1, Massa in race 2, and now Kubica in race 3.

The second qualifying session, which sees another 5 teams drop out, had two more surprises with Timo Glock of Toyota picking up only 14th place after his 3rd place finish in race 2, and in 13th place, for two disappointing qualifying races in a row, was Massa of Ferrari.

That left an interesting fight in the top ten with Red Bull Racing picking up their first ever pole position, with Sebastian Vettel clocking in a hot lap of 1:36:184. Double world champion, Fernando Alonso, picked up a very surprising 2nd place for Renault, and Vettel’s team mate, the Aussie Mark Webber, picked up 3rd place. This left the Brawn drivers to fight it out for 4th and 5th, and for the first time this season Button was out placed by his team mate Barrichello.

So with the mid week developments and the surprising qualifying behind them, the teams had a very interesting race ahead, especially with the forecast being for heavy rain.

Although Brawn only picked up 4th and 5th, they were still expected to take the race out as they were fuelled much more heavily than the three cars that qualified ahead of them.  However, when the rain hit pre race, it turned out those heavier cars were going to work against the Brawn team. By the end of the race this was evident, though not as dramatically as first expected.

From a spectator’s point of view it was a rather boring race, with the first 6 laps being lead by the safety car and then twice more during the race. On top of that, because of the weather, the cars weren’t able to hit the top speeds that we’ve come to expect in F1, and even the visibility was affected by the huge amount of water spray thrown up by the cars. The only benefit of the rain was lots of cars skidding out, which added to the entertainment value.  For most teams it was a lacklustre race, but not for the Red Bull Team.

Red Bull was able to turn its first ever pole position into its first ever win for Vettel. With Webber following close behind, the Red Bull team picked up a remarkable one two finish.  With the breaking news that from the next race onwards they will finally be using their new diffusers, this sends out a clear message that they could be strong contenders for the title when those new parts are fitted. Brawn, however, picked up 3rd and 4th with Button and Barrichello respectively, which shows they are far from out of the race.

McLaren pulled in a good result with 5th and 6th, which would make Hamilton, the defending world champion, pretty happy considering how slow the car has been so far this season. Poor Ferrari though, for the 3rd race in a row, scored not a single point, which is their worst start to a season for over 20 years.

Yet again another weekend of racing that has brought some major surprises and some exciting results. Race 4 in Manama, Bahrain is this weekend and looks to be another thrilling spectacle.


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