F1: five things to watch for in China

F1 Race #4, the Chinese grand prix

Red Bull seeks to break through

Hamilton takes the pole again

Tonight’s fourth race of the F1 season is shaping up to be a battle between this years dominant team and last years.   With Mercedes and Red Bull in the top four spots on the grid, watch for some early aggressive moves.  Also, if this week is anything like Bahrain, watch for some battles within the teams.  Lewis Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg hosted their own Mercedes battles in Bahrain.  In China, it might be the Red Bull team as they seem to be returning to form, are in successive spots on the grid, and both drivers seem to be getting hungry simultaneously.  After a week off, the UBS Chinese Grand Prix will take place at the Shanghai International Circuit.   Following a rain-soaked qualifying round, the early season winners are looking to extend their winning streak.   As always, in the US you can catch the race on NBC.   It will air live at 2:30 am and replay in the afternoon on Easter Sunday at 2:30 pm…..Some things to watch for in China:

Can Mercedes make it 4 in a row to start the F1 season?

Following a strong offseason and practice sessions, Mercedes has charged out of the gate in 2014.  In 3 races, they have 3 first place finishes and 2 second place finishes.  They’ve won 5 of the top 6 podium spots in dominating fashion.   Can Mercedes continue their run?  It’s looking good for them again as Hamilton won the pole in convincing fashion in the rain in China.   Rosberg secured the 4th position, and will come out aggressive.  iSportsweb’s preseason prediction was that Lewis would take the drivers championship.   While he has looked great in Malaysia and Bahrain, it’s teammate Nico Rosberg at the top of the standings with Lewis in a close second.

Will Fernando Alonso’s prediction for Ferrari come true in China?

In contrast to Mercedes, Ferrari has gotten off to a slow start.   They came in to the season with high hopes following the return of Kimi Rakkonen to the team.  The two former champions, Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso are determined to get back to the podium.   Alonso will start 5th on the grid and has consistently captured the 5 or 6 spot.  Raikkonen, however, finds himself just outside of the top 10 on the grid with another disappointing qualifying round.   Following Bahrain, Alonso predicted that they would get it figured out in China.  Qualifying tells a different story.  We expect Ferrari to need at least one more race to find the winners circle.

Can Riccardio and Vettel gang up on Hamilton early in the race?

Riccardio continues to impress

Can Red Bull have a clean race?

Following a second place run in the season opener, Red Bull’s Daniel Riccardio was disqualified for breaking some new rules.  The rules surrounded fuel flow, and according to the FIA, Riccardio consistently broke the rule throughout the race. Following the next couple races which allowed everyone to get a better look at overall performance, Red Bull felt that Riccardio was unfairly disualified and appealed.  They experienced another setback this past week, losing their appeal.   Riccardio secured the 2 spot in China, however, and Sebastian Vettel will start behind him in the 3 spot.  Can the teammates work together early to overcome Hamilton and block out Rosberg?   Can they have a clean race?   We think so.   Watch a battle between these two for a podium spot.

Will McLaren and Force India continue their strong starts?

Two pleasant early season surprises have been McLaren and Force India’s team efforts.   Granted, Mercedes has separated themselves early in the constructors cup team points.   Force India is second and McLaren third, giving fans some early season excitement after disappointing results for both teams in 2013.    Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg sits third in points and F1 fan favorite Jenson Button of McLaren sits fifth.

F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg

Can Force India find their first win in 2014?

Who will win the race of the rookies this week?

Rookies Kevin Magnussen (McLaren), Danil Kvyat (Toro Rosso), and Marcus Ericsson(Caterham) have provided some early excitement as well.  They have brought some of the sports most beloved teams back in to the conversation.   Magnussen sits in the seven spot in the F1 drivers championship after taking second in his first ever F1 race in Australia.   With all of the rule changes in the offseason, it was predicted by some that the environment was ripe for some new entrants.  With Red Bull surging, we think Kvyaat will break out in China.   Look for Magnussen to win points again this week and Kvyat to race to his best finish yet.

 

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