Motorsport 16.4.2014 08:30 am

Mercedes still the team to beat in China

Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso takes part in the Formula One pre-season test days at Jerez racetrack in Jerez on January 31, 2014.   AFP PHOTO/ JORGE GUERRERO

Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso takes part in the Formula One pre-season test days at Jerez racetrack in Jerez on January 31, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ JORGE GUERRERO

The fourth round of the 2014 F1 championship hits Shanghai this weekend for the UBS Chinese Grand Prix.

So far it has been a Mercedes benefit year, with the team victorious in every race this season.

At present it is difficult to envisage any change on Sunday, since the Brackley – based organization have got the sort of package that excels in just about every department.

So what can we expect this time?

Perhaps resurgence from Ferrari, who certainly is on the back foot so far this year – the best finish being two fourths for Fernando Alonso.

Following the last race in Bahrain it was reported that Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo left before the end of the race in a mood that perhaps gave team principal Stefano Domenicali the idea he could be looking for another job.

The closest competitors to the dominant Mercedes team are those using the same power plant, particularly Force India and the revitalised Williams team, who still have to realise the potential showed at the pre-season testing.

The two drivers, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, are spending a bit too much time fighting each other rather than the rest of the field. But once the alpha male status has been established I believe we can expect a lot more from the Grove outfit.

McLaren, once again under the wing of Ron Dennis, got off to a great start but slipped back in Malaysia and suffered clutch problems on both cars last time out.

However, failure is not in Dennis’s vocabulary, so expect a lot more.

Lotus, on the other hand, is having a season to forget – although they did manage to get both cars to the finish in Bahrain, despite Pastor Maldonado’s attempts to eliminate himself and the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez.

Hopefully, this weekend will produce racing to equal the last race as the protagonists once again fight for championship honours.

It appears that off the track the fight is still rampant as the war of words regarding the new regulations continues. Both Paddy Lowe and Niki Lauda of Mercedes have been very vocal in their support of this season’s regulations.

In Lauda’s case, he criticised both Bernie Ecclestone and Luca di Montezemolo for their opposition to the new rules.

Lauda has gone so far as to say to those dissenters that it is a “stupid approach”.

Lowe has called for stricter regulations, with no possibilities of changing regulations during the season. Strange when you recall which team was involved in the tyre” testing” debacle of last season.

Next season’s grid will definitely be increased by at least one manufacturer.

Nascar team owner Carl Haas announced last week that the FIA have approved his application to enter F1 for 2015.

“It’s an exciting time for me, Haas Automation and anyone who wanted to see an American team return to F 1,” said Haas.

 

 

 

 

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