Hit or miss? Chinese Grand Prix F1 team ratings

How did Formula 1's 10 teams get on during the Chinese Grand Prix weekend? Find out with our verdict on the full grid

Hit or miss? Chinese Grand Prix F1 team ratings

Mercedes - Miss

Is the 2018 Mercedes a diva after all? Bahrain was too hot for its tyres on a qualifying lap; China was too cold. It was half a second off Ferrari; something Lewis Hamilton admitted was "very strange".

But as in Bahrain Mercedes came on strong in the race and it looked like a classic 'undercut' pit strategy with a scintillating Valtteri Bottas out-lap would net the Silver Arrows' first win of the season. But the team undid its good work by not pitting Lewis Hamilton under the safety car, and not having new soft tyres to bolt on in any case. Bottas didn't have that option as he was already past the pit entry, and he lost out to Daniel Ricciardo for the win.

Ferrari - Miss

China's qualifying felt like a watershed. Ferrari took its second front row lockout on the bounce and appeared to cement its status as the team to beat across all types of track. Its advantage over Mercedes surprised both teams.

Sebastian Vettel also dominated the opening race stint but then Ferrari's day unravelled. It got some bad luck, not least with Max Verstappen's assault of Vettel, but twice it was lethargic on strategy - allowing Valtteri Bottas to get ahead with an undercut then not pitting Kimi Raikkonen (Vettel was past the pit entry) under the safety car. Its use of Raikkonen as a pawn to hold up Bottas earlier in the race seemed extreme too.

Red Bull - Hit

Finally Red Bull was able to show its much-vaunted 2018 race pace, and it demonstrated what else is exceptional about the team - getting Daniel Ricciardo into qualifying in the nick of time after a double quick engine change, being sharp as a tack on race strategy and twice pitting both cars within seconds of each other.

It got a race win for Ricciardo and probably it should have been a one-two but for Max Verstappen's frolics. Red Bull was content with its qualifying pace as well, particularly with the narrow gap to Mercedes, though it again lost out on the straights.

McLaren - Miss

Fernando Alonso suggested McLaren's Bahrain struggle was track specific but in China it replicated its Sakhir qualifying result - 13th and 14th and Alonso's best was eight tenths off that of Nico Hulkenberg's Renault. Focus is shifting to a lack of aero efficiency; boss Eric Boullier admitted the car's targets may have been set too low. Its only crumb of comfort was that it was at least ahead of Honda this time.

Come the race things were a bit better, particularly for Alonso who converted a long first stint to a seventh place finish even though the safety car didn't work for him.

Renault - Hit

Nico Hulkenberg has been a model of consistency lately, starting seventh in the last six races and this time his qualifying best was just six tenths off the nearest Red Bull. He followed it up with another rapid race and substantial points haul, finishing as best outside of 'the big three' teams in sixth. Team-mate Carlos Sainz backed up him in ninth, not quite pipping Sebastian Vettel, though the pace gap to Hulkenberg remains conspicuous. Renault likely is the team with the clearest claim to best of the rest.

Toro Rosso - Miss

Toro Rosso came back to Earth with a bump in China. Pierre Gasly didn't get out of Q1 and lamented a "massive step back" after his Bahrain tour de force, while Brendon Hartley did little better by qualifying 15th. The pair left little impression on the race either other than by colliding with each other, which Gasly was penalised for. In mitigation it was put down to a "miscommunication" about whether Hartley was going to cede the place.

Haas - Miss

Given how Haas started 2018 this one can be considered a disappointment. Kevin Magnussen missed out on Q3 while Romain Grosjean did little better by starting 10th. Magnussen fought around the head of the midfield in the race but not pitting under the safety car cost him and he sank to finish 10th. Grosjean finished a frustrated 17th after being ordered aside early for Magnussen as well as having to make a late tyre change. Both drivers reckoned the safety car was ill-timed for them.

Force India - Miss

After a tricky start to 2018 with difficult development Force India showed a few signs of returning to its customary form in China. Sergio Perez bagged eighth on the grid, something he called "magic", though Esteban Ocon didn't join him in Q3 and started 12th. The pair's race didn't recover after Perez was pushed wide on the first lap which compromised Ocon too. Neither driver could get into the points and bemoaned that the cards didn't fall their way.

Sauber - Miss

Another team to return abruptly to reality in China. The Saubers filled the back row of the grid after a messy qualifying including Marcus Ericsson getting a (theoretical) grid penalty for not slowing under the yellows caused by team-mate Charles Leclerc spinning. And there was no repeat of Ericsson's Bahrain race strategy triumph as the Saubers finished 16th and 19th with Ericsson ahead. Leclerc again spun and it emerged after the race his car had floor damage.

Williams - Miss

Williams's woe continues - 16th and 18th on the grid, Sergey Sirotkin pipping a Toro Rosso, was meagre improvement on Bahrain. Lance Stroll popping up in 12th place on lap one was about the only highlight. The Williams pair finished 14th and 15th with Stroll ahead, despite splitting strategies. It remains the only team with no points.

shares
comments
10 memorable moments from F1's Chinese Grand Prix history

Previous article

10 memorable moments from F1's Chinese Grand Prix history

Next article

Meet the man behind motorsport safety legislation

Meet the man behind motorsport safety legislation
Load comments
The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under Plus

The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under

Joey Mawson made waves in the middle of the last decade, beating future Haas Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher - among other highly-rated talents - to the 2016 German F4 title. A run in F1's feeder GP3 category only caused his career to stall, but now back in Australia Mawson's S5000 title success has set that to rights

General
May 8, 2021
The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing Plus

The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing

OPINION: The greed-driven push for a European Super League that threatened to tear football apart is collapsing at the seams. Motor racing's equivalent, the football-themed Superleague Formula series of 2008-11, was everything that the proposed ESL never could be

General
Apr 21, 2021
The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan Plus

The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan

Having had the door to F1 slammed in his face and come within three laps of winning the Indianapolis 500, the collapse of a Peugeot LMP1 shot meant Japan was Bertrand Baguette's last chance of a career. But it's one which he has grasped with both hands

General
Feb 27, 2021
The female all-rounder who arrived "too early" Plus

The female all-rounder who arrived "too early"

From Formula 3 to truck racing, Dakar and EuroNASCAR via a winning stint in the DTM, there's not much Ellen Lohr hasn't seen in a stellar racing career that highlights the merit in being a generalist. But she believes her career came too early...

General
Feb 17, 2021
How Radical's latest machines fare on track Plus

How Radical's latest machines fare on track

The lightweight sportscar manufacturer has not rewritten the rulebook with its latest machines, but the new SR3 XX and SR10 still provide a step forward on its previous successful models

General
Feb 8, 2021
The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction Plus

The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction

The forthcoming Netflix film linking the world of underworld crime and motorsport plays on a theme that isn't exactly new. Over the years, several shady figures have attempted to make it in racing before their dubious dealings caught up with them

General
Jan 31, 2021
How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory Plus

How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory

The New Zealand Grand Prix's mix of rising talent and big-name stars thrilled the crowds (yes, remember crowds?) assembled for the Toyota Racing Series meeting at Hampton Downs last weekend and left distant observers craving a repeat

General
Jan 26, 2021
How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going Plus

How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going

OPINION: The 67th edition of the Macau Grand Prix might have been a largely muted affair to the outside world without its international influx and star line-ups, another victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, but organisers deserve huge credit for keeping the party going

General
Nov 24, 2020