Amid all the excitement about whether Ferrari can once again take the fight to Mercedes in tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix here, Formula One received a brutal reality check yesterday that demands immediate action from the governing body, the FIA, to prevent a repetition.
In a scenario unpleasantly reminiscent of the situation in which the hugely promising Welsh driver Tom Pryce was killed during the 1977 South African GP when he struck a young marshal running on the track, a Chinese fan crossed the pit straight during the second practice session. He vaulted through a gap in the pit wall opposite the Ferrari garage after running between Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber and the Force India car of Nico Hulkenberg, which were accelerating towards him at 150 mph. The fan then waved his ticket and said he wanted to try one of the cars.
He was apprehended by police and the FIA must now investigate how he managed to breach security by jumping down from the stands, climbing the 20-foot high debris fencing and accessing the track. The FIA race director, Charlie Whiting, instructed the organisers to double security precautions.
F1 2015: Team-by-team guide
F1 2015: Team-by-team guide
1/10 Mercedes F1 AMG
Headquarters: Brackley, England Team principal: Toto Wolff Chassis: F1 W06 Power unit: Mercedes-Benz PU106B Hybrid Debut: 1954 French Grand Prix Constructors' championships: 1 Highest race finish: 1st (x29) Pole positions: 35 DRIVERS Nico Rosberg (driver number: 6) Born: June 27, 1985 in Wiesbaden, Germany Grands prix entered: 166 (starts 166) Titles: 0; wins: 8; poles: 15; podiums: 26 Lewis Hamilton (44) Born: January 7, 1985 in Tewin, England Grands prix entered: 148 (starts 148) Titles: 2; wins: 33; poles: 38; podiums: 70
2/10 Red Bull Racing
Headquarters: Milton Keynes, England Team principal: Christian Horner Chassis: RB11 Power unit: Renault Debut: 2005 Australian Grand Prix Constructors' championships: 4 Highest race finish: 1st (x50) Pole positions: 57 DRIVERS Daniel Ricciardo (3) Born: July 1, 1989 in Perth, Australia Grands prix entered: 69 (starts 69) Titles: 0; wins: 3; poles: 0; podiums 8 Daniil Kvyat (26) Born: April 26, 1994 in Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia Grands prix entered: 19 (starts 19) Titles: 0; wins: 0; poles: 0; podiums: 0
Headquarters: Grove, England Team principal: Sir Frank Williams Chassis: FW36 Power Unit: Mercedes-Benz PU106B Hybrid Debut: 1975 Argentinian Grand Prix Constructors' championships: 9 Highest race finish: 1st (x114) Pole positions: 128 DRIVERS Felipe Massa (19) Born: April 25, 1981 in Sao Paulo, Brazil Grands prix entered: 212 (starts 210) Titles: 0; wins: 11; poles: 16; podiums:39 Valtteri Bottas (77) Born: August 28, 1991 in Nastola, Finland Grands prix entered: 38 (starts 38) Titles: 0; wins: 0; poles: 0; podiums: 6
Headquarters: Maranello, Italy Team principal: Maurizio Arrivabene Chassis: SF-15T Power unit: Ferrari Debut: 1950 Monaco Grand Prix Constructors' championships: 16 Highest race finish: 1st (x221) Pole positions: 207 DRIVERS Sebastian Vettel (5) Born: July 3, 1987 in Heppenheim, Germany Grands prix entered: 139 (starts 139) Titles: 4; wins: 39; poles: 45; podiums: 66 Kimi Raikkonen (7) Born: October 17, 1979 in Espoo, Finland Grands prix entered: 213 (starts 212) Titles: 1; wins: 20; poles: 16; podiums: 77
Headquarters: Woking, England Team principal: Eric Boullier Chassis: MP4-30 Power unit: Honda RA615H Hybrid Debut: 1966 Monaco Grand Prix Constructors' championships: 8 Highest race finish: 1st (x182) Pole positions: 155 DRIVERS Fernando Alonso (14) Born: July 29, 1981 in Oviedo, Spain Grands prix entered: 236 (starts 235) Titles: 2; wins: 32; poles 22; podiums: 97 Jenson Button (22) Born: January 19, 1980 in Frome, England Grands prix entered: 268 (starts 266) Titles: 1; wins: 15; poles: 8; podiums: 50
6/10 Force India
Headquarters: Silverstone, England Team principal: Vijay Mallya Chassis: VJM08 Power unit: Mercedes-Benz PU106B Hybrid Debut: 2008 Australian Grand Prix Constructors' championships: 0 Highest race finish: 2nd (x1) Pole positions: 1 DRIVERS Sergio Perez (11) Born: January 26, 1990 in Guadalajara, Mexico Grands prix entered: 77 (starts 75) Titles: 0; wins: 0; poles: 0; podiums: 4 Nico Hulkenberg (27) Born: August 19, 1987 in Emmerich, Germany Grands prix entered: 77 (starts 76) Titles: 0; wins: 0; poles: 1; podiums: 0
Headquarters: Enstone, England Team principal: Gerard Lopez Chassis: E23 Hybrid Power unit: Mercedes-Benz PU106B Hybrid Debut: 1977 British Grand Prix Constructors' championships: 2 Highest race finish: 1st (x37) Pole positions: 51 DRIVERS Romain Grosjean (8) Born: April 17, 1987 in Geneva, Switzerland Grands prix entered: 64 (starts 64) Titles: 0; wins: 0; poles: 0 podiums: 9 Pastor Maldonado (13) Born: March 9, 1985 in Maracay, Venezuela Grands prix entered: 77 (starts 76) Titles: 0; wins: 1; poles: 1; podiums: 1
8/10 Toro Rosso
Headquarters: Faenza, Italy Team principal: Franz Tost Chassis: STR10 Power Unit: Renault Debut: 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix Constructors' championships: 0 Highest race finish: 1st (x1) Pole positions: 1 DRIVERS Max Verstappen (33) Born: September 30, 1997 in Hasselt, Belgium Grands prix entered: 0 Titles: n/a; wins: n/a; poles: n/a; podiums: n/a Carlos Sainz Jr (55) Born: September 1, 1994 in Madrid, Spain Grands prix entered: 0 Titles: n/a; wins: n/a; poles: n/a; podiums: n/a
Headquarters: Hinwil, Switzerland Team principal: Monisha Kaltenborn Chassis: C34 Power unit: Ferrari Debut: 1993 South African Grand Prix Constructors' championships: 0 Highest race finish: 1st (x1, as BMW Sauber) Pole positions: 1 (as BMW Sauber) DRIVERS Marcus Ericsson (9) Born: September 2, 1990 in Kumla, Sweden Grands prix entered: 16 (starts 16) Titles: 0; wins: 0; poles: 0; podiums: 0 Felipe Nasr (12) Born: August 21, 1992 in Brasilia, Brazil Grands prix entered: 0 Titles: n/a; wins: n/a; poles: n/a; podiums: n/a
10/10 Manor Marussia
Headquarters: Dinnington, England Team principal: John Booth Chassis: TBC Power unit: Ferrari Debut: 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix Constructors' championships: 0 Highest race finish: 9th (x1) Pole positions: 0 DRIVERS Will Stevens (46) Born: May 28, 1991 in Rochford, England Grands prix entered: 1 (starts 1) Titles: 0; wins: 0; poles: 0; podiums: 0 Roberto Merhi (TBC) Born: March 22, 1991 in Castellon, Spain Grands Prix entered: 0 Titles: 0; wins: 0; poles: 0; podiums: 0
Lewis Hamilton dominated both sessions for Mercedes, but though it might have looked like a return to normal with a 1.124-second advantage over Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari in the first, the gap was down to 0.443sec in the second. Despite suggestions that Ferrari’s surprise pace in Malaysia two weeks ago owed much to their superior tyre wear in the freakish 64°C track temperature in Sepang, there were strong indications in yesterday’s second session that Ferrari can be in with a chance here, too.
On the medium-compound Pirelli tyres Hamilton was more than a second faster than Raikkonen, but on the soft-compound rubber the gap was down. Meanwhile, the winner in Malaysia, Sebastian Vettel, was fourth, just ahead of Nico Rosberg in the second Mercedes.
Ferrari’s British technical director, James Allison, widely acknowledged to have been the guiding hand in their return to form, was cautious about overselling their revival. “I think that we’re up against a car, in Mercedes, and others too, that is strong competition. But Mercedes in particular, they have a bit more horsepower than us and a bit more downforce than us,” Allison said.
“Our objectives were set out at the beginning of the year. We thought it was realistic to score a couple of wins and, of course, we’ll take whatever comes our way and we’ll do our best to make our car close up as much as we can during the year, but I think that sticking with the objectives we stated at the beginning of this year is still realistic.”
Vettel added: “Fight for pole with Mercedes tomorrow? They were very strong today, and the important thing for us is to make a step forward. There are a few things we can improve.”
For Hamilton, “today was definitely an improvement on Friday in Malaysia. It was good to get both sessions in and that puts me in a stronger position. The team have done an amazing job to find some improvements in the car. Balance-wise, it’s way better than the last race and it was generally feeling really good.
“It was quite close between us and Ferrari. They look just as fast as they were last time out, so we definitely have a race on. But I feel like I’ve got some improvements to make and I think we’ve got the pace to stay ahead.”
Mercedes’ team director, Toto Wolff, was happy with his cars but added: “Ferrari are close – and closer on the long runs. We saw in Malaysia we need to get every detail right to create a winning weekend.”
Second Practice times:
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes 1min 37.219secs,
2 Kimi Raikkonen(Fin)Ferrari1:37.662,
3 Daniel Ricciardo(Aus)Red Bull1:38.311,
4 Sebastian Vettel(Ger)Ferrari1:38.339,
5 Nico Rosberg(Ger)Mercedes1:38.399,
6 Daniil Kvyat(Rus)Red Bull1:38.737,
7 Valtteri Bottas(Fin)Williams1:38.850,
8 Felipe Nasr(Bra)Sauber 1:39.032,
9 Romain Grosjean(Fra)Lotus1:39.142,
10 Jenson Button(Gbr)McLaren1:39.275,
11 Pastor Maldonado(Ven)Lotus1:39.444,
12 Fernando Alonso(Spa)McLaren1:39.743,
13 Marcus Ericsson(Swe)Sauber1:39.751,
14 Max Verstappen(Ned)Toro Rosso1:39.894,
15 Carlos Sainz Jr(Spa)Toro Rosso1:39.971,
16 Nico Hulkenberg(Ger)Force India1:40.151,
17 Felipe Massa(Bra)Williams1:40.423,
18 Sergio Perez(Mex)Force India1:40.868,
19 Roberto Merhi(Spa)Manor 1:42.973,
20 Will Stevens(Gbr)Manor1:44.564Reuse content