Round 3 of the 2018 Formula 1 season has gotten underway at the Shanghai International Circuit with early practice sessions seeing Lewis Hamilton maintaining his dominance.
The season itself is already seeing quiet confidence in some camps, furrowed brows in others. Chief amongst those would be Daniel Ricciardo, especially after yet another failure of his Red Bull car after barely two laps at Bahrain. Red Bull would also be looking at the form of Max Verstappen considering the collision between he and championship contender, Hamilton, at Bahrain.
Hamilton himself has met Verstappen and the two have shaken hands, with Hamilton making the first move to quell any bad blood between the two before this weekend’s race. This comes on top of Verstappen having an excursion into the gravel on the last lap of his practice session at Shanghai.
Question marks are hovering over the heads of the Sauber-Ferrari duo of Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc after relatively poor showings in the opening two rounds. Although Ericsson scored a ninth place at Bahrain, it was the first time in fifty races the Swedish born driver had placed well enough to score.
Nor has Canadian driver Lance Stroll troubled the sheets in his time with Williams-Mercedes. The team hasn’t scored a solitary point in the two races so far and Stroll admits: “In Bahrain it was shocking how much of a step backwards” referring to the car’s performance. And referencing last year:”I was four tenths slower in qualifying..”
Another talking point of the season has been the addition of the halo, with many pundits wondering just how effective they would be in an incident they’re designed to deal with. The commentators have also bemoaned the potentially life saving devices, with the chief complaint being that they weren’t being utilized for better camera mounting points.
The practice sessions at Shanghai have thrown up a couple of surprises. Hamilton lead both sessions however in P2 Kimi Raikkonen showed glimpses of his previous good form by giving Hamilton a fright. The ice cold Finnish driver clocked a time that had him just 0.007 of a second behind the Mercedes driver and Valtteri Bottas also showed promise early on finishing P2 0.033 seconds adrift. Current championship leader Sebastian Vettel finished fourth whilst a frustrated Ricciardo was over a second adrift in ninth.