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GP Week : Issue 42
> F1CHINA> It was their weekend, nobody else’s, and it was no fluke. The pace of the Red Bull RB5 has been clear since the first race of this new season, but it was up to the maturity of Red Bull’s drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber to extract the maximum under intense pressure from their rivals and from the elements of a Chinese rainstorm. Red Bull’s win had been crafted with an impressive qualifying show, in which both Vettel and Webber struggled with their driveshaft boots, as the German was only sent out for one flying lap in each of the final two sessions. Denied locking out the front row only by Alonso’s Renault that had qualified on a thimble-full of fuel, the gauntlet had been laid down. Vettel was on pole and Red Bull was on an aggressive strategy, but their pace was real. Come the race, and the rain that fell all day on Sunday played into O Red Bull’s hands perfectly. The Safety Car start allowed Vettel and Webber to conserve fuel, and when Alonso was forced to pit on the eighth lap the duo took over the top positions that they never realistically looked like being beaten to all afternoon. Vettel’s command of the conditions, as in Monza last season when he took his first race win for Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso, was flawless. He didn’t just lead the race, he dominated it, pulling out an astonishing gap over his team-mate given the second Safety Car period and dreadful weather. Vettel was simply in a class of his own. But Webber, too, put in a superb race. It’s easy to forget that the Australian was involved in a massive accident over the winter. His snapped leg had only just healed in time for him to get a run in pre- season testing, and he still walks with a hobble. And yet in the three races thus far held in 2009, and especially in China, he raced as well as we have ever seen in his F1 career, this time for reward, to record his best ever result. Third and fourth went to the Brawn duo who, although not on the Red Bull pace, could only count the Grand Prix as their second outing in wet conditions in the BGP01. Button again had the measure of Barrichello, and went wheel to wheel with Webber in one of the battles of the race. Fifth and sixth went to the McLarens of Kovalainen and Hamilton after differing races. Kovalainen was superb, having run only two laps all season in racing conditions. He made no mistakes, while team-mate Hamilton was all at sea, spinning a number of times and losing what could have been a podium finish had he kept his usually calm head in check in conditions he traditionally loves. Seventh went to Timo Glock who overcame a grid penalty and once again showed that he is one of the best overtakers in the sport, with Sebastien Buemi a simply magnificent eighth … although he deserved to finish higher. It was a day to forget for Ferrari, BMW and Renault, and a cruel race for Force India as Adrian Sutil threw sixth position – and Force India’s first ever points – away just a few laps from home after aquaplaning off the road. The plaudits were rightfully saved for Red Bull Racing. At the start of the season there was much talk that the credit crunch had forced the team to cut back on its extravagant parties, which in the absence of on- track success had come to define Red Bull Racing. On the basis of the first few races, and following a famous and richly deserved win, they may have to rethink their party policy. There’s more reason to celebrate now than ever. 25 NLY five teams had ever done it before, and one of them only did it a few weeks back, but in sealing a 1-2 at the Grand Prix of China, Red Bull Racing marked its first race win by locking out the top two steps of the podium.