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NASCAR Formula 1

Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix Wrap Up

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 Chinese Grand Prix was one of the most entertaining Formula 1 races in recent memory. Scuderia Ferrari has flown under the radar via quiet but strong finishes and is now threatening in both the driver’s and constructor’s championships. Lotus F1 Team kept rolling on what has been a quick and impressive rise early in the season, and Mercedes AMG had a driver on the podium in Shanghai for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, Red Bull Racing couldn’t put the pieces together, which will only fuel the fire of speculation that the team is broken due to the conflict between their drivers.

Fernando Alonso got the win in Shanghai, making him the third different winner in three races so far in the 2013 season. Alonso put on a strong showing all weekend, landing in the top 5 during all three free practices and qualifying third. With the win, the Spaniard moved up to third in the driver’s points, just nine points back of the leader Sebastian Vettel.

 Vettel maintained his points lead in the driver’s championship, and kept RBR in the lead in the constructor’s points, with a P4 finish. His team mate Mark Webber continued to have a rough go of things with a DNF. Webber having to drop out of the race after just 18 laps only added to the Aussie’s struggles, as he was robbed of a win by Vettel at the Malaysia Grand Prix. Worse yet, he will receive a three spot penalty at the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix due to his role in a collision with Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne.

Kimi Raikkonen drove his way to his second podium of the year, despite damage to his front wing resulting from an incident with Sergio Perez of McLaren. Perez pushed Raikkonen off the course while trying to prevent the Iceman from passing him. When Kimi got back on the circuit he brushed against the back of the McLaren, but his E21 held strong and saw Raikkonen through to the end of the race. Kimi closed the gap between Vettel and himself in the driver’s championship to a mere three points with the strong finish.

Lotus found the qualifying speed they had been lacking in the previous two GPs, with Raikkonen qualifying second and Romain Grosjean snagging the sixth spot on the grid, which helped Lotus put on a strong team showing in Shanghai. Grosjean finished in P9 and Lotus is sitting comfortably in third place in the constructor’s points.

Lewis Hamilton rounded out the podium with a P3 finish, which was a repeat of his 2013 finish in China. Hamilton grabbed the pole on Saturday but was unable to hold off Alonso and Raikkonen in order to secure a second straight Shanghai win for Mercedes. Hamilton was lucky to stay on the podium as Vettel put together a strong final run and almost caught the Brit.

Last year’s Chinese GP winner, Nico Rosberg, looked solid all weekend but wound up with a DNF. That gives Rosberg two DNFs on the season: one in Australia due to an electrical issue, and this time a suspension problem put an end to Rosberg’s day. Mercedes is still looking good in the constructor’s points as they currently sit in fourth.

Ferrari grabbed their first win of the season thanks to Alonso, and they are looking like more of a threat in both championships as the season continues. Lotus made progress towards becoming a more complete team by finding their qualifying pace and getting strong finishes from both drivers. Mercedes won’t be able to hang around the front of the point races for much longer if they can’t get both cars to the finish. Red Bull is still the team to beat but that could change if they really do have internal problems that are impacting their on track performance.

The next race of the season is the Bahrain Grand Prix taking place this weekend.

Follow Spenser Walters on Twitter @SpenserWalters