China report: racing but not as we used to know it

China report: racing but not as we used to know it

Fernando Alonso won a race of interwoven strategies in China, but as Mark Hughes contends in his in-depth grand prix report, that wasn't pure Formula 1 combat as it used to be

It was lap four, DRS had been enabled for only a lap, and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari was tracking Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes like a shadow down that long, long Shanghai back straight – a silver bullet chased by scarlet, tiny specks emerging from the smog, but growing bigger fast, and loud; Fernando bobbing this side and that, Lewis checking his mirrors as he stood on the brakes for the Turn 14 hairpin, 200mph down to 60mph in just 3s at a peak of 6.4g, Brembo discs glowing orange. And he was still ahead.

But his problems were far from over, because this year there is a second DRS zone down the pit straight. Accelerating out of the hairpin, up towards that pit entry where Hamilton lost the 2007 world title as a rookie, they crossed the DRS-detection point, with Fernando still just a breath away and team-mate Felipe Massa just a further breath away, therefore getting his DRS armed too, ready for deployment as the three of them screamed past the pits in a blur.

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