This post is being made before P3, because of differences with the time zones between England and China.
The Chinese GP last year was remarkable in that it was in the first half of the season, yet Brawn didn’t win. Red Bull scored a sexy one two (naturally Vettel beat Webber). Pre-practice, I expected Red Bull and McLaren to be frontrunners, because of Red Bull’s general excellent pace this season and the McLaren being superb on straights (China has a big one, plus a few smaller ones).
P1 was a McLaren-Mercedes affair, with Button fastest, then Rosberg and Hamilton (both within a tenth of Button’s time) and then Schumacher eight-tenths off the pace. Vettel was 5th, Kubica 6th, Webber 8th then Sutil and Massa (Alonso didn’t set a time).
P2 was pretty similar. Hamilton led, then Rosberg (more than two-tenths down), then Button and Schumacher about a tenth off Rosberg. The Red Bulls were 5th and 6th, Sutil 7th, Kubica 9th and the Ferraris 10th and 11th.
I’ve made a couple of bets, all with small stakes. Hamilton is, in my view, favourite for pole. Backed him at 5 (unwisely, he’s now up to 6. Silly me). I’ve also put some on Rosberg, who is an astonishing 38 despite coming second in both practice sessions. He’s less likely to win than Hamilton, but 37/1 is a bloody silly price for a chap who’s second twice and who beat Vettel (on the same tyres) in Malaysian qualifying. I was just going to back Hamilton, but 38 is such a long price I had to have a little.
I’ve also laid Massa to reach Q3, but only had a little (1.2 or less is worth taking). He’s been 10th and 11th so far. I think the Red Bulls, McLarens, Mercedes, Kubica and Sutil are all dead certs for Q3, which only leaves a pair of spots, and I have only small confidence Massa will get one.
China’s produced a different winner each time the race has been held, and there is a question mark over Sunday’s weather. Saturday will be dry, however, which is helpful.
Anyway, let’s hope one or more of those tips come good.