For every upcoming Grand Prix there’s certain stories that generate more attention than usual. In China all the attention will be on the performance and controversy surrounding the last race in Malaysia. Let’s have a look at the five key stories surrounding the Chinese Grand Prix 2013:
1. Mark Webber vs Sebastian Vettel: Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel will race for the first time since Sepang where Vettel ignored team orders and overtook Webber. The race has certainly showed Vettel in a different light- and it wasn’t a positive one. Vettel appeared to show arrogance at points in the race telling the team over the radio: “Mark is too slow, get him out of the way. He is too slow”. Webber responded after the race saying Vettel would be protected as usual but within the team many felt Vettel was in the wrong. Webber is unlikely to want to help Vettel towards any title in the future but three weeks to think things over may have allowed the upset to die down.
2. Christian Horner’s authority: After Vettel ignored team orders directly from Horner many have asked whether Vettel has become too big for his boots and too big for the team. Does Vettel now think he is more important than the team and if so how will Horner ensure that he keeps the peace and keeps his driver’s in check. Perhaps Horner is too close to his driver and this may be to his detriment. It will be interesting to see how Horner deals with managing Vettel within the team.
3. Ferrari: Ferrari started the season well in Australia but in Malaysia they could not capitalise on their good form. Fernando Alonso’s race was ended after one lap when the team failed to pit him and his front wing collapsed under the car. Felipe Massa finished a strong fifth in Malaysia lifting him above Alonso in the driver standings but the team slipped in third in the constructors. The team failed to carry on the momentum from Australia and will be hoping to improve on performance in China.
4. Lotus: Lotus were impressive in Australia taking the win with Kimi Raikkonen but in Malaysia the team struggled only finishing sixth and seventh. Lotus Technical Director James Allison said he believes the team had genuine pace and the conditions in Sepang hindered the team’s performance. The team should still be able to challenge the other front runners but it will be interesting to see if they can still fight for the driver and constructor championships.
5. Claire Williams: Claire Williams has been appointed as the team’s deputy team principal becoming the second female team principal in F1 along with Monisha Kaltenborn at Sauber. Williams is taking on the role alongside her current position as commercial director and will take an active role in the everyday running of the team. It will be interesting to see how much of a leading role she takes at the team this weekend and how this will bode for the future.
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