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GP Week : Issue 33
> F1china> nd Prix, Shanghai The Toyota drivers had contrasting first days in the Chinese office. While Glock struggled to find the right balance, Trulli consistently improved to fourth place in the afternoon practice session and was looking forward to Saturday. While qualifying was not as impressive as the Italian might have hoped, he maintained the better form of the duo, as Glock took 13th and Trulli ninth. Both For once it was Bourdais who shone as Vettel struggled in the opening practice sessions of the weekend. The German admitted he was nowhere near where he wanted to be, but Bourdais was revelling in the intricacies of the track. Only a touch too much confidence in the second session took the shine off for the Frenchman as he beached himself at the first turn. Qualifying was thus a huge boost as It was situation normal at Honda as the team found the limit on its car fairly early. The promise shown in first practice therefore couldn’t be replicated in the afternoon as the Hondas fell back into the clutches of the bottom of the ladder once more. Qualifying was therefore something of a shock. Button only just missed out on the second part of qualifying, while Situation normal at Force India as the team never made it out of the bottom four in practice on Friday. Sutil said the day had been “pretty normal” which summed up Force India’s season in a nutshell. The practice form of the team was pulled through into qualifying when Fisichella again lost out to Sutil, with the German just 0.09 ahead of the Italian to decide the order of the final row on the grid. It was the Lewis Hamilton show on Friday as the championship leader set about putting the shocker he’d encountered in China one year ago firmly behind him. A pair of first places sent out an ominous message, and the pole he took on Saturday seemed to confirm the pace he had shown in practice. Kovalainen was fourth in the morning but way off the pace in the afternoon on day one, but pulled it all were promoted a place with Webber’s penalty, with Trulli gaining an additional spot when Heidfeld was also demoted. The Italian’s race was over before it had begun however as contact with Bourdais put him out after the first corner. Glock raced brilliantly to finish seventh and move into 10th in the drivers’ championship standings with a round to go. both drivers made Q3 and when all the penalties had played out the pair lined up sixth and eighth. At the first turn Bourdais made contact with Trulli, sending him to the back but he battled hard to finish 13th. Vettel struggled after a stuck wheel nut cost him time in the pits and he finished just outside the points in ninth. After both starting in the points, the team had hoped for more. Barrichello put his car on the seventh row of the grid after finishing Q2 just shy of Kubica’s BMW. The race pace of the cars just wasn’t up to much, and despite cracking starts from both drivers, the Hondas eventually slumped to 11th for Barrichello and 16th for Button. Roll on Brazil and the end to what has been a season to forget for Honda. The drivers just couldn’t get the tyres to work for them and hoped their race pace would be better than in quali. The press release after the race said Fisichella had driven well to gain three places on his starting position. But given that there were three retirements, he didn’t actually gain any ground at all. One of those retirements was his team-mate, as Sutil ground to a halt with gearbox issues at one thirds distance. together for fourth on the grid on Saturday. The race really was a Hamilton special, as he looked untouchable. It was one of his most accomplished F1 wins to date and reaffirmed how much he has matured in 12 months. Kovalainen struggled from the outset with mismatched tyres, then picked up a puncture and eventually retired with a hydraulics issue. A shame for the Finn, but a great day for Hamilton. 33