Formula One arrived in China for the fourth round of the World Championship after a week’s hiatus. The first three races had provided three different winners, from three different teams.
McLaren were furiously trying to play down the advantage their straight-line speed would give them in Shanghai:
“I still see Red Bull and Ferrari as the teams to beat here. You don’t know what Mercedes have brought either, so I think it’s the same as every race.”
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes
"It’s not because we're efficient, that's because we don't have the downforce.”
Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes
Red Bull were trying to play down having any advantage too:
“Some people don’t think that it’s still a fight between four teams, but I think it is. We’ve had three races, if you look at the points… there’s not much difference.”
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing
Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher was being asked if he found anything different about modern F1:
“Well, the number of questions and style of questions and all this sort of thing is pretty much the same.”
Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
And everyone seemed to still have it in for Lewis Hamilton – mostly for his ‘weaving’ incident in Malaysia:
“I think the issue will be tidied up in the drivers briefing. I don’t think you’ll be seeing Lewis doing that again in a hurry.”
Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing
“He got a warning for dangerous driving, but I am not sure it is enough.”
Eric Boullier, Renault team principal
"If he was beside me I would have given him some bollocking because it wasn't right.”
Rubens Barrichello, Williams
“He’s a dickhead.”
Tim Pallas, Victoria Minister for Roads (speaking about the Melbourne Hooning, we think).
Lewis himself was being asked if he learnt anything from throwing away the championship in Shanghai three years ago:
“Well, I know where the gravel trap is now. I’m confident that we won’t be there again.”
The wheels came off at Toro Rosso – which isn’t a metaphor:
“Something broke on the car: it happens; we change it and don’t think about it anymore. It probably looked spectacular, but from inside it wasn’t so big. What happened? I’d prefer to let the technical director talk about it.”
Sébastien Buemi, Scuderia Toro Rosso
Red Bull set the qualifying pace amid rumours that Seb made some important set-up changes…
“I did! I changed my shoes. My underwear too.”
Then came the rain as Red Bull Racing finished sixth and eighth in the treacherous conditions:
“We got blown away! It was a very difficult race for us. We weren’t quick enough, simple as that. The weather was bad but it’s the same for everyone. The cars are very sensitive to these conditions, and if it isn’t going for you… interesting Grand Prix.”
"It is just obviously frustrating that with a straightforward dry race today I don't think the opposition would have seen us."
Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing
At one point Sebastian and Lewis Hamilton were banging wheels in the pitlane.
“The team released me when they thought it was the right time but I got quite a lot of wheel spin... As I came out I noticed Sebastian was there and he was pushing me a little bit to the right. We touched wheels but otherwise I think it was fair.”
While Fernando Alonso made a ‘robust’ move on his team-mate coming into the pits.
“If the other car would have been green or grey, we'd all be celebrating this manoeuvre, but instead we're just losing time with polemics, where there is nothing to say.”
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
"There is no dispute between Alonso and (Felipe) Massa; they know well what they have to do and will continue doing it because they know they are racing for Ferrari and not for themselves."
Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari president
Jenson Button won with Lewis Hamilton close behind
“Pretty damn good I must say, except for the last four laps. They were a little bit scary… For me this is my best race.”
Toro Rosso had an eventful afternoon. Buemi was caught in somebody else’s accident at the start, while Jaime Alguersuari battled bravely without reward.
“I don’t want to blame anybody! We have to work hard now for Barcelona because we need to be a bit more lucky.”
“It was a really crazy race. On the slick tyres we were really fast! We got up to P8; we passed (Adrian) Sutil and I think did some good moves – but we’re disappointed with the result. Hopefully we can be strong in Barcelona.”
Jaime Alguersuari, Scuderia Toro Rosso
And then nobody went home…
“I will rent a car and drive back.”
“I’m in the same car as Seb… or I’ll go to Australia.”
“You can swim to Australia.”