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Hamilton prepares his counterattack to Vettel in Shanghai

Hamilton prepares his counterattack to Vettel in Shanghai
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), triple Formula One world champion, will seek to counterattack this weekend the German Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) – four times winner of the competition and leader of the World Championship – in Shanghai, home of the Chinese Grand Prix, the second of the year and the one that no one has won more times than English.
Vettel, leader of Red Bull’s glorious four-year term (2010-13), won the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago in Melbourne, benefiting from a better pit stop that ended up relegating Hamilton, ‘poleman’ in a day in which Ferrari – without victories in 2016 – ran as an opposition to Mercedes, a firm dominator of Formula One for the last three years.
The 2017 World Cup, which will close in Abu Dhabi on November 26 after 20 races, has everything left. But, after ‘yielding’ the title to his former teammate and German rival Nico Rosberg – who announced his retirement five days after being proclaimed champion – Hamilton will not want to easily miss the possibility of winning a fourth crown.
Ferrari gave signals of progress during the preseason and in Albert Park made a ‘sandwich’ with the two silver arrows: the new Mercedes driver, the Finnish Valtteri Bottas, finished third, ahead of his compatriot Kimi Raikkonen, last champion of the ‘ Scuderia ‘(2007).
Red Bull, also called to fight Brackley’s in the ‘new’ F1 – faster, more physical and that gives greater importance to aspects such as aerodynamics-, settled for fifth place in Australia from Dutchman Max Verstappen, who In 2016 he became, at 18 years old, the youngest winner in history, by winning in Spain.
In Shanghai it will be possible to glimpse where the shots can go, in a 5,451-meter circuit that has been run since 2004 and which is scheduled to take 56 laps on Sunday, to complete a route of 305 kilometers. In which Hamilton will seek his fifth victory, which would raise his own mark to 54, the second of all time. Still far from the stratospheric record (91) of the German Michael Schumacher.
An expensive track (cost around 450 million dollars), with 16 corners and the longest straight of the season (1.17 kilometers). In which the McLaren-Honda of the Spanish Fernando Alonso, double winner in China, may suffer, with little power: in 2005, with Renault; and in 2013, when, with Ferrari, he achieved the penultimate of his 32 victories in the premier class of the motoring.
The Asturian double world champion (2005 and 2006, Renault) rolled little and badly in the preseason, with a car that alarmed before the start of the World Championship, with which he abandoned – three laps from the end, when he was tenth – the first test, which defined as “the best of” his “life”, with one of the least competitive cars he has “owned.”
The Japanese McLaren rider already intoned, therefore, through its director, Yusuke Hasegawa, the ‘mea culpa’. And progress is expected with a view to the fifth or sixth race. But it remains to be seen how long Alonso’s patience lasts, a direct witness to the greatest crises of the two most successful teams in history, Maranello and this one. Of which his friend the Australian ex-pilot Mark Webber hinted that he could get out of the ‘cockpit’ even before concluding the course.
With the minimal expectations of success of the 35-year-old from Oviedo, endorsed by the Frenchman Eric Boullier, McLaren’s sports director – who warned that Shanghai will expose its “weaknesses even more than” Melbourne -, the Spanish fans will look more towards Madrid’s Carlos Sainz, 22. Eighth with his Toro Rosso at the start of his third F1 campaign, behind Brazilian Felipe Massa (Williams, who revoked his retirement after announcing Rosberg’s retirement and Bottas’s departure to Mercedes) and Mexican Sergio Pérez, who hopes to confirm in China his best start to the year since driving for Force India.
In “the best shape” of his “life”, ‘Checo’, 27, finished seventh in Australia, ahead of the two Toro Rosso -de Sainz and the Russian Daniil Kvyat- and his new partner, the French Esteban Ocon, who ‘scratched’ a spot in Albert Park.
Where the Italian Antonio Giovinazzi, third Ferrari driver, replaced German Pascal Wehrlein (also 22 years old) at Sauber, who injured his back in January when he had an accident in Miami (United States) during the Race of Champions (‘Race Of Champions ‘).
Wehrlein is still in discomfort and unable to take shape; and will be replaced by Giovinazzi in China, the start of the first ‘double program’ of the year, which will be completed the following weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix, at the Sakhir circuit.
In Shanghai, with two DRS zones -before the first and the fourteenth turn- and where more overtaking is foreseen than in Australia, the running will be on super-soft (red stripe), soft (yellow) and medium (yellow) compound tires ( white) from this Friday, when the free practice for the Grand Prix will start -the night from Thursday to Friday, in European time.
Rehearsals that will continue during the day on Saturday, before qualifying, which will be ordered by the starting grid for Sunday’s race. EFE
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