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Formula 1

The Bulls conquer the Red Dragon

DRC’s race review of the returning Chinese Grand Prix

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The Formula One circus brought their parade to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix, returning after five years and the excitement in the air was quite visible as the Chinese public gathered in masses to see the Grand Prix weekend that lay ahead of them. And there’s no doubt as to why they were gathered up in such high numbers.

The Shanghai International Circuit has been home to a lot of enthralling moments in Formula One racing. Be it Hamilton’s pit lane screw up which made the 2007 world championship more exciting, Schumacher’s 91st and last win, Buemi’s self-destructing car, or the pit Lane racing between Vettel and Hamilton.

After four non-racing years, the track was resurfaced a bit. More specifically, there has been an additional layer of Tarmac and Bitumen added to ‘re-surface’ the track. No additional changes were made to the track.

Regulations had changed over four years, the new ground effect cars would post at different times and would have different aero configurations compared to the previous cars. This meant that the teams and drivers we going blind into the race weekend, only relying on Simulator data and projections.

The Chinese Grand Prix Weekend was the first sprint weekend of the ‘24 season, with the format being a Free Practice session and a Sprint qualifying session on Friday, followed by the sprint race and a Qualifying session for the main race on a Saturday, with the Race on Sunday.

Free Practice


Free Practice began a small fire on the trackside grass which saw a slight delay in the commencement of the sessionthe drivers were all over the track, trying to get information and understand the dynamics of the track. As mentioned before, the regulations have been changed so each driver felt like a rookie, trying to find cheat codes and grip wherever they could find them.

At the end of the session, Lance Stroll topped the chart with a 1:36.302 followed by Oscar Piastri (+0.327) and Max Verstappen (+0.358).

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Sprint Qualifying


Sprint Qualifying saw the first hints of rain over the entire weekend. The Sprint Qualifying sessions didn’t see any action per se.

SQ1

Eliminated: Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Alex Albon, Yuki Tsunoda, Logan Sargent.

SQ2

Eliminated: George Russell, Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Lance Stroll.

SQ3

The drivers found no grip on the track due to the clouds giving way. Intermediate tyres seemed to be the choice for the teams.

Lando Norris posted a time of 1:57.940 which bagged him his first sprint pole. Hamilton followed with a 1:59.201 which got him second place. The top three was completed by Fernando Alonso with a lap that clocked in 1:59.915.

Norris’ lap was deleted by the stewards for exceeding track limits which gifted Hamilton Pole Position. A happy Hamilton was soon left dejected as Norris’ lap was re-instated which dropped the 7x World Champion back to P2.

Sprint Race


As the lights went out for the Sprint race in Shanghai, Norris shot off the line with Hamilton following close behind. As the duo reached Turn 1, Norris ran wide and dropped down to P6 as the field went past him and his McLaren. By Lap 3, Hamilton led from Alonso then Verstappen then Sainz and Perez. Lap 7 saw Verstappen overtake Alonso for P2. As Alonso dropped, he upped his defence as on Lap 15, he kept both the Ferraris and Perez at bay.

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But on Lap 16, his defence was thwarted by Carlos Sainz who went wheel to wheel with his fellow Spaniard. Perez took advantage of this skirmish and shot past which was quite reminiscent of the ‘Through goes Hamilton’ moment from Silverstone 2022. Alonso suffered a puncture during the skirmish he had with Carlos which saw him come into the pits and retire.

The Sprint race came to an end with Verstappen taking the chequered flag with Hamilton and Perez filling out the podium positions.

Qualifying


Q1 saw home hero Zhou Guanyu, Kevin Magnussen, Lewis Hamilton, Yuki Tsunoda, and Logan Sargent drop out and get eliminated. Hamilton had a disastrous qualifying, only able to do as good as P18. The last time Hamilton was knocked out of Q1 was in Jeddah at the Saudi Arabian GP in 2022.

Q2 saw Sainz take a dip into the gravel trap at the final corner and spin out, hitting the barrier and damaging his car. He lost his Front wing and was forced to pit.

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As the session ended, Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Ocon, Alex Albon, and Pierre Gasly were eliminated.

Q3 saw Oscar Piastri almost replicate Sainz’s collision in his #87 McLaren. Q3 ended with Max Verstappen taking Pole with a banker lap of 1:333.660. This is Red Bull’s centenary pole position and also the track where they scored their first Pole Position in the Hands of Sebastian. The other Red Bull of Sergio Perez locked out the front row. Fernando Alonso placed his Aston Martin in P3, with both McLarens of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri sitting comfortably in P4 and P5.

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Race


The race was contested on the 21st of April, 2024 through 56 laps. little drizzle over the track before the race meant that grip would be scarce. A two-stop strategy would be optimal with more emphasis on the hard tyres.

As the lights went out for the main race, Verstappen and Perez went off the line swiftly but Alonso reacted quicker than the Mexican. This caught him off guard which allowed Alonso to pass him around the outside to take P2. At the back, Hulkenberg made big moves in his Haas by overtaking both the Ferraris.

By Lap 5, Perez started inching closer to Alonso to gain back his position, everything stayed the same until Lap 20. The yellow flag was brought out as Valterri Bottas crashed out. A virtual Safety Car was put into effect which turned into a Full Safety Car.

By Lap 27, The Safety Car was brought in but was redeployed again as both RBs Tsunoda and Ricciardo crashed out due to a spin and a collision with Stroll respectively.

Lap 33 had Hamilton recover to P10 which showed his immense understanding of the track. With the second Safety car, a lot of cars pitted which handed the lead to Norris. As Lap 40, came by, Verstappen overtook Norris for the lead and built an 8 sec lead over him. Alonso kept an eye for Sainz at the back and overtook Hamilton and Piastri to seal the deal.

On Lap 54, Verstappen had built a 12-second lead on Norris and as the chequered flag dropped on at the end of Lap 56 he coasted away for a beautiful Chinese Grand Prix. Lando Norris finished a strong P2 with the third spot getting occupied by Sergio Perez.

Home Hero Zhou Guanyu shared a wholesome with his countrymen as he was given his spot on the grid after the race. He shed a tear and waved proudly at his fans who showed him support and love throughout the weekend.

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Here is the Final Race Classification after the scintillating 56 laps:

Championship Standings


Verstappen extends his championship lead while His and Perez’s valiant efforts help Red Bull stay on the top of the Constructors Standings.


All in all, it was an amazing weekend for Formula One racing and it only goes to show that China deserves a spot on the F1 calendar for all its exciting track action. The next race is the Miami Grand Prix which will be contested from the 3rd of May to the 6th of May.

Formula 1

A Three way Battle in Budapest: The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Formula One returns to the historic Hungaroring, a tight twisty and unpredictable race track. Read DRC’s race preview here.

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As Red-Bull and Mclaren pull away from the field, Mercedes joins the party. With three race winning cars on track, all three will look to bag good points, while Ferrari will be hopeful for a better result. Welcome to DRC’s F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Read the British Grand Prix Review here.


Know the Hungaroring

The tight and twisty Hungaroring track is located in Mogyorod, 11 miles west of the Hungarian capital, Budapest. Described as an enlarged go-kart circuit, it is one of the most technically challenging circuits on the calendar.

The Hungaroring Circuit.
The Hungaroring circuit. Photo credits: F1

The 14 corner track is also called Monaco without the walls, owing to it’s high downforce requirements. Even though overtaking is very difficult here, the track has undergone only one major revision, which was in 2003. The main straight was extended another 200 meters to make it 900m long, and the first corner was tightened to promote overtaking.

The track contains two back-to-back DRS zones, followed by a technical middle sector full of chicanes and esses. The final sector is a short one, only featuring two hairpins that feed back into the main straight. A good middle sector is crucial here.

Historically, Hungary has been a circuit full of firsts. It was the first and only circuit to host a race beyond the Iron Curtian. It is also famous for giving drivers their first wins. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and most recently, Esteban Ocon have taken their first wins here. Max Verstappen took his first pole back in 2019 at the Hungaroring too.

The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix will consist of 70 laps around this 4.381 kilometer circuit, with a two stop strategy as the norm.


Red Bull look to fight back blow for blow

Over the last few races, Red Bull has fallen off the pace and is slowly falling into the clutches of McLaren, and even Ferrari. Right now, Red Bull lead Ferrari by 71 points, closely followed by McLaren. With both McLaren cars consistently finishing in the top 5 in the last races bar Norris’s retirement in Austria, and Checo only scoring 8 points in the last five races, it has become difficult for Max and Red Bull to outscore the Papaya clad team.

McLaren’s last upgrade has significantly improved their performance, while Red Bull is still struggling to find and mend the issues with the RB20. Verstappen recently tested the RB18 at Imola, in an attempt to figure out the problem with the new car. As Red Bull work hard to rectify their problems, McLaren seems to be getting better and better. And now with Mercedes back in the fray, a new challenger is rising to take their throne.

Max Verstappen testing the RB18 at Imola.
Max Tests the RB18 in Imola. Image cradits: Autosport

Another factor is the two on one that Max has to face. With Checo qualifying poorly, Max has to take on the McLaren, and sometimes the Mercedes pair alone. Two cars in the mix would greatly help Red Bull, and Checo will be motivated to improve his Qualifying and Race records.


Mercedes on the up as Hamilton eyes another record

The Hungaroring has always been kind to Mercedes. They have the most wins here in the Turbo-Hybrid era. Russell and Hamilton snatched pole here in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Hamilton has also won eight races here, and his first victory with Mercedes came here in 2013.

Mercedes usually nail the set-up here. With the team riding high after back-to-back victories in Austria and Silverstone, they would love to go for a treble. Lewis Hamilton will also eye a record equaling nine victories. After his win in Silverstone, he now holds the record for most wins at a single circuit with 9.

George Russell also has a fantastic track record here, finishing in the points every year since 2021, where he came eight for a struggling Williams. A podium and a top 5 finish followed in 2022 and 2023.

Mercedes will want to secure a large bag of points here, to reduce the 152 points defecit they have to the leaders Red Bull and to catch up with McLaren and Ferrari.


A Ferrari Renaissance on the Horizon?

Ferrari seems to have dropped off after their excellent performances in Melbourne and Monaco. This year, Ferrari seem to be a heavily down-force reliant car, with podiums for Charles and Carlos in Sakhir, Jeddhah, Melbourne and Suzuka, all tracks which require downforce. Of course their victories on the streets of Melbourne and Monte-Carlo confirms this.

Charles Leclerc Wins in Monaco.
Ferrari have dominated the Downforce heavy circuits. Image Credit: Anonymous

Their struggles at the more balanced tracks of Canada and Barcelona, along with power heavy tracks like Austria and Silverstone have cost them dearly. It is also evident that the Ferrari is one of the more draggy cars on the straights and struggle with straight line speed.

As the Hungaroring is a heavy-downforce track, it seems like Ferrari have a shot at victory here. This might be one of the few chances for them to get points during the European Leg of the season, along with Zandvoort and Baku. Consequently, Ferrari have bought new floor upgrades to make most of this valuable chance. A huge points haul in the Hungarian Grand Prix will solidify their chances against McLaren, Red Bull and even Mercedes who look threatening.


Dark Clouds loom over the race

An alarming video was shared by Mikey Brown, a mechanic at Aston Martin, shows the Pitlane flooding in what he described as “a HUGE storm” . McLaren, having barely repaired their motorhome in time for the British GP after the fire in Catalunya, have suffered another issue. The repaired motorhome has lost it’s roof multiple times over this week, thanks to the speedy winds.

Even though Meteorologists predict a dry weekend, a small rain shower, combined with the high humidity in Hungary this time of year can put the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in doubt.


Championship Standings

This is how the championship looks as we head into the race weekend:

The 2024 Formula One world championship standings as of 18/07/2024.
Credits: F1

Race Weekend Schedule

All events during the weekend are available to watch on F1TV and Fancode. The times given below are in IST(GMT +5:30).

DRC's Hungarian Grand Prix Race weekend schedule.

Follow Desi Racing Co to keep up to date with the speedy world of motorsports.

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Formula 1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas in an exhilarating return to F1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas to back a sensational return to F1.

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As the F1 silly season continues, a rather surprising bit of rumour is that the world’s largest automaker, Toyota, is set to return to the F1 grid as early as 2025 with the Haas F1 team.

Credits: Haas F1 team

The partnership is said to start out with a sponsorship deal, possibly with a renaming on the cards. A deal akin to that of Alfa Romeo and Sauber. With the possibility of a future technical partnership on the chassis/engine development. Toyota will likely join Dallara in assisting Haas for the chassis. Other talks suggest that Haas will use Toyota’s facilities for development and manufacturing. While this means Toyota won’t be directly involved in the construction of the F1 car, it means Haas gets a huge boost in infrastructure, experience, etc; and Toyota gets a new source of income.

Toyota’s history in F1

The Japanese manufacturer has seen immense success in WEC, taking 5 consecutive 24 hours of Le Mans victories from 2018 to 2022 and WRC, clinching the manufacturers’ championship in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and the championship for drivers and co-drivers every year since 2019. It wasn’t so for its time in F1, or at least according to Toyota’s standards and ambition.

Credits: Toyota-europe.com

Toyota made their debut F1 in 2002. The team scored 17 podiums, and 3 pole positions but never achieved a victory. Only securing 2nd place as their best finish till they dropped out of the sport in 2009, midway through the development of the 2010 car.

What does this mean for Haas, Toyota, and F1?

Toyota’s failure was blamed on a lot of factors, this deal gave the Japanese manufacturer a second chance to right their wrongs. Haas has been on a consistent upward trajectory throughout the 2024 season. With Nico Hulkenberg scoring back-to-back P6 finishes at the Austrian and British GP, and Kevin Magnussen backing that up with commendable performances. The deal could help Haas gain the brute force of employees, resources & financial aid. Something that they have been lacking to make a meaningful impact in the sport.

F1 would most certainly benefit from having a Japanese Manufacturer in the sport. The Japanese GP attendance and the growing popularity of F1 have been steadily increasing in the country. Toyota’s return could also provide F1 with a boost to their competitiveness and financial gains.

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Formula 1

GIFT City’s Formula 1 Racetrack Plans Hit a Roadblock

GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a Formula 1 racetrack has stalled due to structural issues and high costs, sources reveal. Initially flagged off with a feasibility study, the project now faces uncertainties.

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Gujarat’s GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a racetrack for holding Formula 1 (F1) races has come to a grinding halt just four months after initiating a feasibility study and selecting consultants, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Earlier this year, on March 11, the Gujarat Sports Authority announced that top international F1 racetrack designers were invited to present the feasibility of constructing an F1 racetrack at GIFT City. The project saw intense competition among global designers, with the consortium of renowned German designer Hermann Tilke and India’s Arcop architects emerging as the frontrunner for the feasibility study.

GIFT City (Photo: Amit Dave/Reuters)

However, GIFT City’s plan has been halted, insiders revealed. “Designers had given feedback that given the layout of GIFT City, it may be difficult to build a racetrack that conforms to F1 standards due to structural issues,” said one source.

The financial implications also pose a significant hurdle. Estimates place the cost of building such a racetrack between Rs 5,000 and 10,000 crore.

R.S. Ninama, Director General of the Gujarat Sports Authority, and Hermann Tilke have not responded to inquiries from ET. Another source indicated that the project might be integrated into a larger plan for developing infrastructure for the Olympics. “So, you may get a racetrack, but not one that can host F1 races,” the source added.

GIFT City, located in Gandhinagar, has been developed as a financial hub. The city is aimed at attracting international businesses with various tax incentives. The government is focusing on enhancing the city’s livability by developing entertainment and leisure infrastructure. Notable projects include an underwater aquarium, water sports facilities, and a retail zone featuring a 158-meter-high Ferris wheel.

This story has been derived from a story reported by Economic Times.

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