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Raikkonen to leave Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen will leave Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the season, the team has confirmed:

“As a World Champion for Scuderia Ferrari, he will always be part of the Team’s history and family. We thank Kimi for all of this and wish him and his family a prosperous future.”

Developing story

#MonzaGP Hamilton seals Italian job

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were overwhelming favorites to win the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday. Raikkonen and Vettel were placed number one and two on the grid before lights out.

Hamilton took advantage of a spin from Vettel to move into second place.

Raikkonen pitted first, with Hamilton going eight laps longer. With fresher tyres, and the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, who had yet to stop, backing Raikkonen up at the front, Hamilton closed onto the Ferrari’s gearbox. Bottas then pitted, giving Raikkonen clear air, but his tyres were in trouble.

Hamilton was patient enough to buy time with 8 laps to go before he made his move and overtook Raikkonen whose rear tyres were damaged. Lewis Hamilton now has extended the championship lead to 30 points.

Next GPs:

Singapore ??- 16/9

Russia ?? – 30/9

Japan ??- 7/10

USA ??- 21/10

Mexico ??- 28/10

Brazil ??- 11/11

Abu Dhabi – 25/11

Hamilton wins in Hungary

Lewis Hamilton extended his lead in overall formula one standings following his Hungarian Grand Prix win on Sunday.

This is Hamilton’s sixth win in Hangarorin.

“It was a tough race for us, tough weekend, we came out with some good points” – Hamilton

LAP 70/70

1. Hamilton 1:37:16.427
2. Vettel +17.123
3. Raikkonen +20.101

#LIVE #GritSportsFormulaOne #HungarianGP

Hamilton retakes the lead on driver standings

Lewis Hamilton retook the lead on the driver standings following his impressive victory at the German Grand Prix on Sunday.

Hamilton won the race from p14 on the grid at the start of the race while his rival Sebastian Vettel crashed out of the lead in lap 52/67.

Mercedes Benz finished one and two, something they’ve never achieved at Hockenheim.

German Grand Prix:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Valterri Bottas
  3. Kimi Raikkonen

Driver Standings:

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 188*
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 171
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – 131
  4. Valterri Bottas – 122
  5. Daniel Ricciardo – 106
  6. Max Verstappen – 105
  7. Nico Hulkenberg – 52
  8. Fernando Alonso – 40
  9. Kevin Magnussen – 39
  10. Sergio Perez – 30

Formula One: 2018 season preview – Bulali Dazana

By Bulali Dazana

The only certainties were the dates. The previews were mysterious and the leaks spunk from everywhere like those of a perforated bucket. This was the build-up to the 10 Formula 1 teams for the 2018 season revealing to the racing public what they had produced over the European winter.

As is characteristic of this sport, they came at us fast, bringing to an end what is the equivalent of the Western Cape drought for die-hard Formula 1 fans. There are few sports in the world that make last year’s equipment instantly archaic and irrelevant as soon as the chequered flag drops at the final event. The sense of a new dawn at the start of a F1 season is simply unmatched.

Every year in F1 brings about its own unique mystery. Some years the uncertainty is fundamental to racing as it was with major engine regulation changes in 2014 and the aero re-think of 2017, and some years it’s superficial and mainly in the minds of the frenzied fanatics.

This year it is largely superficial. The sport was acquired by Liberty Media in late 2016 and they have gradually been asserting themselves and their vision for the enterprise step by step. When F1 fans tune in en-masse to Free Practise 1 in Melbourne, the corner of their TV screens will contain an unfamiliar logo for the first time in more than 15 years. The now famed and familiar F1 logo was brought in by Mr Bernie Ecclestone in the early 2000’s to mark the “new millennium” (remember that?) and was symbolic of the globalisation of the sport beyond its European roots. The new logo comes in as Liberty Media marks its territory and a transition of the sport from a billionaire’s dictatorship to a corporate product, growing and adapting in the age of crypto-currencies and social media.
Social media and the overall rise in consciousness have had another effect on F1.

In 2018, the age old tradition of having young beautiful women in tight fitting clothing on the starting grid will be no more. My guess is that the “woke” generation started interrogating the ideology and the role of sexualising women in the sport. The rise in gender-vigilance must have raised questions such as: the stereotypical type of woman that was used for this purpose, why it was just women as opposed to a diversified gender and racial representation etc. Liberty Media decided to take the easy way out and can the whole thing rather than endure unnecessary criticism. The women will now be replaced by young aspirant racing drivers from lower formulae and carting. Great!
Now, on to some cars! This season will see the most dramatic safety intervention in F1 in recent history.

There was a time when drivers participated in the sport with the tacit acceptance that death was an inherent risk of racing, and when one got into a racing car they accepted a 20% chance that they may never get out. This seemed reasonable to the racing generation of the 1950’s. It cannot be lost on us that this was the generation that had lived through WWII and raced on airfields that would have been susceptible to bombing at any given moment just a few years prior. Their idea of the risk of death was fundamentally different to what ours is today. Subsequently, safety has become a priority in all forms of motorsport. The tragic 2014 passing of Murussia F1 driver Jules Bianchi, 20 years after the death of the legendary Ayrton Senna, has led to drastic measures with regard to driver cockpit protection.

After multiple considerations, the FIA has settled on the Halo and it has appeared on all the cars launched in 2018. It is hardly aesthetically pleasing, but until research is complete on more elegant solutions such as the aero-screen, the Halo is here to stay. Congratulations must go to Red Bull Racing for launching a car so beautiful that no even noticed the Halo! There’s no doubt after having followed testing that the Halo significantly obstructs driver identification which is traditionally clear from the helmet designs. There was a great suggestion by Fernando Alonso that the Halo be coloured in a design mimicking the helmet design of the driver. I hope he is taken up on this by as many teams as possible as it makes driver identification a lot easier for the fans.

While the Halo stirs some souls, the drivers market has been a lot less emotive. The big 3, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing have all retained their driver line ups from 2017. Further down the field, Williams and Toro Rosso bring in 3 rookies drivers between them. This may create the illusion that there’s not much to say about the driver market in 2018 but nothing could be further from the truth. The stability of drivers at the front of the grid could well be rocket significantly based on this year’s performances. Ferrari is in all likelihood parting ways with 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen at the end of this year owing to the fact that the ice cold Finn more than likely comes to the end of his second F1 career. Add to this Mercedes’ reluctance to cement fellow Finn Valteri Bottas into the team by granting him only a 1 year contract extension in 2017 and potentially we have 2 seats available for the 2019 season at 2 front running teams. Daniel Ricciardo is the man that comes into focus. Ricciardo has shown time and time again that he has the metal for a world championship challenge. He announced himself in no uncertain terms as a top driver by casting a shadow over then reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel in 2014, and followed it up with some of the most spectacular late breaking overtakes we’ve seen in the last 3 years. While his record at RedBull has been respectable, the team has made strong indications that its future is structured around sensational youngster Max Verstappen. Perhaps Ricciardo will want to move on from the team that brought him through its young driver programme into F1, but where will he go?
A team of 2 ferociously competitive drivers is a complicated beast that only works well if the correct dynamic exits. The seats may open up at Mercedes and Ferrari, but both teams have well established alpha males at the helm. How much influence does Sebastian Vettel really have over who occupies the Ferrari car beside his? It would be delusional to believe he will welcome the man who took the shine off his amazing run of 4 world championships. Lewis Hamilton on the other hand is on record as stating that he fears no driver on the grid and would welcome any team mate at Mercedes. This must be taken in context. I have no doubt Hamilton enjoyed 2017 as undisputed Mercedes no.1 driver far more than he enjoyed the tight psychological intra-team battles with Nico Rosberg. If Red Bull does not produce a package capable of keeping up with Mercedes and Ferrari, you can bet the speculation around where Ricciardo will drive in 2019 will reach fever pitch this year.
The last 2 weeks have seen Formula 1 return to its familiar pre-season testing ground in Barcelona, Spain. With very little technical regulation change, the pecking order has remained rather steady with Ferrari putting down the outright fastest time over the 2 weeks. Extremely cold and snowy weather put a limit to running on certain days but teams were able to work around this with lap counts running routinely over the 100-lap mark on sunny days. Mclaren put in the second fastest lap after a highly disrupted testing schedule characterised by reliability issues, followed by Red Bull in third, with Mercedes not showing their hand on the new Pirelli hyper-soft compound. The main curiosity was focused on the two engine swapping outfits of Toro Rosso and Mclaren. After 3 very painful years, Mclaren decided to ditch the Honda power unit and along with it, works team status. In 2018, Mclaren will run a Renault power unit as a customer team. Mclaren shouldn’t expect to be back to their winning ways, but the team may be able to restore some pride and on a more practical level, some desperately needed sponsorship. Toro Rosso has inherited the Honda engine and the paddock would have been abuzz with chatter when they ran a virtually perfect testing programme, hitting the 100 lap per day mark often. The pace was not bad either but for Honda, the aim will be to finish races this year. There’s speculation on why Honda seems to be rebirthed with suggestions that Torro Rosso has been far more accommodating to the Japanese culture than the famously rigid Mclaren. If we’re being frank, the team will serve the role of a testing platform this year for their big sister team, Red Bull Racing. Red Bull and Renault have had a frosty relationship in the hybrid era, culminating in Red Bull running a Tag Heuer branded Renault power unit from 2017. Should Honda come alive with Torro Rosso this year, we can expect to see Red Bull-Honda in a works relationship in the not too distant future.
Williams was slowest in testing and the memories of this team as a force in F1 seem to be fading more and more each year. The hopes that former Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe would bring the team forward are yet to manifest. Sauber was second from the back, running arguably the best looking Alfa-Romeo livery, and a 2018 Ferrari power unit. For the last few years, Sauber have run year old Ferrari power but the relationship between the team and Ferrari has developed into a junior team/senior team one and they will now run 2018 Ferrari power with essentially 2 junior Ferrari drivers. Force India, which was supposed to undergo a name change over the winter, was third from the back. This team has achieved amazing results in context of their budget over the last 2 years, sealing 4th in the Constructor Championship in 2016 and 2017. Haas and the Renault works team filled the midfield in 4th and 5th positions as was to be expected. Haas would have left testing happy with the result, while Renault works team would be coming under some pressure from the French manufacture providing their backing.
The complex hybrid power units will be nearing their final stages of developmental evolution in 2018. The seasonal component allocation has come down every year since 2014 and this year the teams will have to make do with just 3 of each component for the 21 race season. Grade 3 mathematics will show that this requires a team to run a car for 7 races without a component failure in order to complete the season without an engine penalty. The idea is to cut the cost of racing by forcing competitors to develop more reliable components, rather than the traditional “change everything after every race” approach. Towards the end of 2017, we had a rather farcical situation where teams ran out of components and were running sub optimal power unit performance in races. This is not at all in the spirit of this competition and if reliability has not improved over the winter, we could see this happen even earlier in the season than it did last year, a real tragedy should it materialise.
Predictions? A wise man once told me that prediction is a fool’s game. What I will say though, is that the Tifosi will be desperate to see the scarlet red Ferrari taking a few more chequered flags than it did last year. Ferrari has not won a drivers title in over a decade. This cannot sit well with the most celebrated outfit and in many ways a cornerstone of the sport. For those looking for omens, the last time Ferrari won the drivers’ championship, we had a French Grand Prix on the calendar. This event returns in 2018, although at a different circuit. What is sure is that Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have no intention to let up on the waning domination they have enjoyed since 2014. Testing is indication of what’s to come, but ultimately, Sunday 25th March is when the lights will go out Down Under.
It will be a race not to miss.

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO THIS WEEKEND

With the return of the English Premier League, La Liga and the South African Premier Soccer League, weekends will never be the same again, well for at least another nine months.

This weekend is jam packed with quality sports, theres the MTN 8 semi-finals, Premier League, Spar Proteas Netball,  Formula 1 and the Rugby Championship.

Starting with the MTN 8:

Saturday – Supersport United vs Maritzburg United at Lucas Moripe Stadium: 20:15pm

Sunday – Cape Town City vs Bidvest Wits at Cape Town Stadium : 15:30pm

Premier League: 

Log leaders Manchester United host the Fox’s at Old Trafford  on Saturday.

Manchester United vs Leicester City – 18:30pm

Sunday – Liverpool take on Arsenal at Anfield – 17:00pm

La Liga:

Sunday – Real Madrid vs Valencia 22:15pm

Rugby Championship:

Saturday – New Zealand vs Australia – 09:35am

Saturday – Argentina vs South Africa – 21:40pm

Netball: 

Saturday – Spar Proteas vs New Zealand – 06:45am

Formula One:

The F1 is back, fresh from the summer break, it returns to one of its most iconic venues, The Spa-Francorchamps Circuit. Rated as one of the best circuits in Formula 1, those involved are really looking forward to the occasion.

Sunday – Build Up starts at 12:30pm

Cricket:

Friday – England play the Wnidies in the Second Test at Headingley Cricket Ground – 11:00 until 20:00pm

Boxing: 

The much anticipated Boxing Match takes place on Sunday morning, build up starts at 01:00am

Floyd MONEY Mayweather vs Conor McGregor

 

Note: All times are CAT

 

Lewis Hamilton sets the pace in Practice 1 

Lewis Hamilton sets the pace in Practice 1 
Lewis Hamilton sets the pace in Practice 1 


The first practice(FP1) of the 2017 Formula One, Austrian Grand Prix took place on Friday. 

Lewis Hamilton set the pace ahead of Max Verstappe, he recorded a time of 1 minute 5.975 seconds, which put him 0.190 seconds ahead of Verstappen. 

Max Verstappen enjoy an early lead as he was the first to set the time, whilst Raikkonen and Vettel had some early problems, spinning their cars a few times apart. 

Mercedes Benz drivers weren’t bothered by Ferraris problems, as their two driver, Hamilton and Bottas traded places. Sabastain Vettel tried to split them apart, to no avail, after his car spun. 

Verstappen could’ve caused headaches for Hamilton and Bottas if it wasn’t for his car spinning, which curtailed his efforts. 

Force India endures ugly civil war as Lewis Hamilton wins Canadian Grand Prix

 

Force India endures ugly civil war as Lewis Hamilton wins Canadian Grand Prix

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Hamilton claims Canada GP win

LEWIS Hamilton has cut Sebastian Vettel’s world championship lead to 12 points with a dominant victory in the Canadian GP.

Hamilton led from start to finish, delivering a masterclass of frontrunning to secure his sixth victory at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and finish almost 20 seconds clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas, while Daniel Ricciardo was third, picking up his third podium finish in a row. It’s the first time in Hamilton’s career he has won the same race six times.

But the Brit’s serenity was in sharp contrast to the drama which unfolded behind his Mercedes as Vettel finished fourth after bravely gaining three positions in the final five laps, capitalising on ugly in-fighting at Force India and a brake failure for Kimi Raikkonen.

Lance Stroll scored his first points in F1 as the Canadian youngster claimed ninth for Williams at his home race while, once again, Fernando Alonso was let down by his Honda engine before making new friends by jumping into the Montreal crowd. The Spaniard’s retirement means McLaren remains without a single point this term.

UGLY CIVIL WAR ERUPTS

All eyes were on the pole-sitting Hamilton and Vettel, starting alongside the Mercedes on the front row, at the start. But it was Max Verstappen who then stole the limelight as the Red Bull youngster dived up the inside of the Ferrari to leap from fifth to second. The two cars made contact as the Red Bull snuck ahead, Verstappen clipping the front-wing of Vettel’s Ferrari and instantly destabilising the SF70-H.

The damage forced Vettel into an early stop and a two-stop strategy while Verstappen’s surge would be cruelly curtailed by a battery failure that left the teenager banging his steering wheel in frustration.

F1 Preview: 2017 Canadian Grand Prix


With the opening leg of European rounds on the 2017 calendar now out of the way, this weekend sees Formula 1 venture to North America for the first time this season for the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

Sebastian Vettel arrives in Canada with a healthy 25-point advantage at the top of the drivers’ championship following his victory in Monaco two weeks ago, where he led Ferrari to its first one-two finish in almost seven years.
Monaco proved to be a tougher weekend for his title rival, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who suffer a shock knock-out at the second stage of qualifying. Although the Briton was able to recover to seventh in the race, he was powerless to stop Vettel taking the biggest lead yet in their title battle.
The Canadian Grand Prix rarely disappoints. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has a knack for producing the unexpected, and the city of Montreal embraces F1 with a warmth that few other locations on the calendar can match.
2017 Canadian Grand Prix – Talking Points
Vettel out to extend championship lead
Sebastian Vettel’s flying start to the season has seen him take three race wins and three second-place finishes from the opening six rounds, enjoying the kind of form reminiscent of his Red Bull title-winning days.
The German’s march for a fifth world championship – and, more poignantly, first in Ferrari colors – has been impressive thus far. The results have done much to break the hoodoo that has seemed to blight the Scuderia in recent times, with Vettel’s Monaco victory being Ferrari’s first since 2001.
Another drought could end this weekend, with Ferrari having not won in Canada since Michael Schumacher’s victory in 2004. If Vettel can hit the top step once again – particularly given the Mercedes’ line-up’s strength in Montreal – it would be another signal that Ferrari is in charge of this title battle.
Can Mercedes’ Montreal specialists win?
Mercedes’ Monaco showing was pretty miserable. To get neither car on the podium despite both finishing has been a rare occurrence for the Silver Arrows in the V6 hybrid era, making a response in Canada this weekend all the more important.
Luckily for Mercedes, it has two of the strongest drivers around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Valtteri Bottas finished third in each of the last two years for Williams, and famously charged to third on the grid in 2013 in the wet.
The real favorite will be Lewis Hamilton, though. The three-time champion took his maiden F1 win in Montreal back in 2007, and has since taken another four, putting him second only to Schumacher for Canadian Grand Prix victories.
Mercedes may not have the quickest car in Montreal, but you’d be hard-pressed to find two drivers more suited to this circuit.
Back to the grind for Fernando
Fernando Alonso will make his F1 return this weekend following his Indianapolis 500 adventure. It was a story that captured the attention of the racing world, acting as a rare slice of good news for the struggling McLaren-Honda partnership, even if Alonso did end up retiring from the race due to an engine failure.
But the Spaniard will now return to the stark reality of his current F1 standing. With a power unit that lacks both reliability and performance, he will not be dicing for the lead as he was at IMS. Points – hell, not even plural, a point – would be a big breakthrough for McLaren, the team having not scored a single one thus far in 2017.
Alonso will be encouraged by the evident step we saw from McLaren in Monaco (albeit partly down to the circuit), and given his hurculean habit of dragging the car further up the order than in rightfully be, points are not totally out of the question in Canada. That said, the power-hungry nature of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the absence of the promised Honda updates doesn’t make it a favorable outlook.
Tires to be testing once again
The big debate following last month’s Monaco Grand Prix was tire management, with Pirelli’s softest compound selection once again causing trouble for some teams in Monaco. Mercedes’ woes with the ultra-soft have been particularly clear this year, with Hamilton unable to get to grips – quite literally – with the tires last time out.
The same tire selection is on tap for Montreal, and given last year’s race was won by Hamilton with just one pit stop, one would expect that strategy to be the way to go once again, particularly with the added durability of the 2017-spec tires. Managing them will be the key to victory, and perhaps the decisive factor between Hamilton and Vettel once again.
Hopefully we’ll have more overtaking than we got in Monaco, with the long back straight and DRS zone giving drivers plenty of chances to close up and make a pass.
Will Stroll’s homecoming yield maiden points?
Lance Stroll will end an 11-year drought on Sunday when he becomes the first Canadian driver to start his home F1 race since Jacques Villeneuve last appeared in 2006.
Stroll, 18, stepped up to F1 at the beginning of the season with Williams, but has experienced a baptism of fire. After failing to finish any of his first three races, Stroll managed to get to the finish in Russia, ending up 11th. Further classified finishes have followed, yet he is still without points despite the evident quality of the Williams FW40 car.
At the track named after Canada’s greatest F1 talent, Gilles Villeneuve, Stroll will aim to become just the third Canadian to score points – and the first whose surname is not above the door of the circuit.
2017 Canadian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures
Track: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

Corners: 14

Lap Record: Rubens Barrichello 1:13.622 (2004)

Tire Compounds: Ultra-Soft/Super-Soft/Soft

2016 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

2016 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:12.812

2016 Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:15.599

Sebastian Vettel wins Monaco Grand Prix 


Sebastian Vettel wins in Monte Carlo ahead of Kimi Raikonnen, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton finishes in P7

Jenson Button retired on Lap 66

Vettel now leads the Championship by 25 points

Vettel beats Hamilton in Bahrain

Vettel beats Hamilton in Bahrain
Vettel beats Hamilton in Bahrain

RACE RESULTS
POS. DRIVER TIME POINTS

VET

1:33:53.374 25

HAM

+6.660s 18

BOT

+20.397s 15

RAI

+22.475s 12

RIC

+39.346s 10

MAS

+54.326s 8

PER

+62.606s 6

GRO

+74.865s 4

HUL

+80.188s 2

10 

OCO

+95.711s

Sebastian Vettel leads the drivers’ championship after winning a tense 2017 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix from Lewis Hamilton on Sunday. A late charge from Hamilton wasn’t quite enough to prevent a Ferrari victory, as his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas took third.

BREAKING:Hamilton wins Shanghai 


LAP 56/56: #CHINESEGP ??
FINISHERS
HAM

VET

VER

RIC

RAI

BOT

SAI

MAG

PER

OCO

GRO

HUL

PAL

MAS

ERI
#F1

F1 China preview – Ferrari can put Mercedes on the ropes with a win in Shanghai 


If Ferrari’s victory in Australia caused an upset, following it by triumphing in China would put Mercedes on red alert – figuratively and literally. So can the Scuderia keep the roll going – or will Mercedes strike back over what promises to be an intense weekend in Shanghai?

Do the Scuderia hold the early advantage?
It was Sebastian Vettel’s ability to stretch his first stint longer than Lewis Hamilton’s that proved key to the Ferrari man’s victory in Australia – and that could bode well for this weekend.
The Shanghai International Circuit has long been hard on tyres, and even though Pirelli’s wider 2017 tyres feature harder, more durable compounds, the long and fast corners could still play into Ferrari’s favour if Australia is a reliable guide.

History isn’t exactly with them however: Ferrari last won here in 2013, and were last on pole in 2004, the inaugural event. Mercedes? They’ve secured the front of the grid for the last five consecutive years – and have triumphed four times over the same period…
Part of that trend has been down to the strengths of Mercedes’ power unit, so richly rewarded on the season’s longest straight at 1.2 kilometres. But the indications are that Ferrari have closed the gap significantly – indeed customer team Haas even suggested the Scuderia could be ahead in the power stakes. 
As has been the case all season Ferrari are not saying much, but Mercedes certainly expect a fight again this weekend.
“There are still many areas where we can be better,” says team boss Toto Wolff. “We have been focused on these during the past week. It’s not a case of looking at the competition for inspiration but of getting our own homework done to maximise our performance.”

 
WATCH: VIRTUAL CIRCUIT GUIDE – CHINA

Will rain throw up a wildcard?
According to pre-weekend forecasts, rain is extremely likely Sunday morning – and while it may abate by the time the lights go out, low temperatures mean a wet start is extremely possible.
The good news for drivers is that they should have time to prepare – Friday is also set to run under similar conditions, with only Saturday predicted to be dry throughout.
Teams and drivers have already had a chance to sample their new machines in wet conditions of course during pre-season testing – but then they were lapping in isolation, rather than in the heat of battle and the middle of a pack.
All of which means we could get a wildly different order between Saturday and Sunday – and that’s before we get to the added strategic elements of trying to call conditions and pit stops on what might be a damp but drying circuit…

 
Last year’s ‘freak’ race
Several seasoned observers look forward to a gripping race here. Last year saw a one-off number of overtaking moves – 181 due to several sets of circumstances – but the 2015 event produced a decent 28, partly helped by DRS. 
Some say that the greater grip and thus reduced braking distances will militate against overtaking this year, but the fact that Vettel was able to hound Hamilton closely for the first 17 laps in Australia (a circuit not renowned for passing) suggests that the latest Pirellis fare much better when running in another car’s wake. That could set up some interesting challenges.
Some also expect any passing moves to be more spectacular because the zones are necessarily shorter and thus the drivers must be more committed – perhaps more ‘elbows out’ – when seeking to pull a manoeuvre off. 

 
Giovinazzi fills in again
Over at Sauber, Pascal Wehrlein will sit out a second successive race as a result of lingering fitness issues caused by his crash in the Race of Champions. Italy’s Antonio Giovinazzi, reserve driver at Ferrari, will once again deputise.
The Italian acquitted himself well on debut in Australia. Despite having not run on Friday, when Wehrlein was in action, and a more limited pre-season schedule, the Italian qualified in 16th and brought his car home in 12th, the team’s only finisher.
But while the Italian’s focus will be firmly on his first full F1 weekend, he might not have to wait long for a second. By Wehrlein’s own admission he might not be ready for Bahrain either, meaning Giovinazzi might once again get the nod.
“For me the most important is that I can train intensively to ensure a 100 percent performance,” was Wehrlein’s verdict. 
“I will then be well-prepared for my first complete Grand Prix weekend for the Sauber F1 Team. Hopefully this can be in Bahrain but, if not, then we will take the time it needs until Russia to make sure I am completely ready.”

 
McLaren expecting to struggle
The troubled McLaren-Honda alliance looked better than expected in Melbourne, but team boss Eric Boullier says he is anticipating a fraught weekend in China as Honda’s power deficit becomes truly apparent.
“Shanghai is known to be an unpredictable weekend for a number of reasons: it’s tough on cars, tyres and power units and the weather is often precarious, but I can predict that we won’t be as fortuitous with our pace, compared to our rivals, as we were in Australia.
“The characteristics of the Shanghai International Circuit are very different from Melbourne, and its long, fast straights will likely expose the weaknesses in our package more than Albert Park did. However, we will of course attack the race with our usual fighting spirit, and the most important thing will be to ensure reliability with both cars before focusing on performance.” 
Honda’s Yusuke Hasegawa concurs, adding: “We expect the Chinese Grand Prix to be even more challenging [than Australia]. The track itself also places a lot of stress on the power unit with its slow- and medium-speed corners, and two very long straights. The key will be preparation and set-up.”

 
The weekend’s outlook
It’s expected to be warm in the build-up to Sunday’s race, with temperatures hovering around 20 degrees Celsius – although a drop to around 15 is expected for the Grand Prix, with rain forecast for the morning and possibly returning mid-race.