The 2014 Grand Prix of China gave the season another rainy qualifying session- which, traditionally, levels the playing field among the chassis and rewards the “truly talented” drivers. That seemed to be the case this morning, too, when the Renault-powered Red Bulls (said to be some 80 HP down on the dominant Mercedes) qualified 2-3, behind a determined Lewis Hamilton but ahead of the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. It wasn’t the four times world champion Sebastian Vettel in the fastest Red Bull, though. It was the smiling, likable, and frighteningly fast Daniel Ricciardo.
You can question whether Ricciardo should have more points than he does, but there’s no questioning the Australian’s talent behind the wheel. The only real question, in fact, is whether it’s more fun to see the truly dominant Mercedes drivers spank Vettel up and down the length of a Grand Prix in superior machinery, or more fun to watch Ricciardo do it in the same car!
While you ponder that, here’s how the GP of China qualifying results ended up at the end of Q3 …
|Car No.||Driver||Team||Grid Pos.|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||2|
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||3|
|27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||8|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||16|
… you’ll notice that Maldonado posted a DNQ (did not qualify). That’s not on the Venezuelan this time- his Lotus-Renault never made it out of the garage due to a number of mechanical and electrical gremlins associated with this year’s trouble Renault gas/electric hybrid power unit. Similarly, Sergio Perez’ qualifying results seemed to be down to bad luck in the face of deteriorating track position.
What that means for us, tomorrow, is that the 2014 GP of China should be really interesting- with Perez and Maldonado poised to the advance quickly through the back-markers, and the Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas set to blast past and over-performing Fernando Alonso in 4th at the start.