Wet weather not rule changes spice up the F1 show
Despite the millions of dollars poured into Formula One, and the hundreds of hours of thought put into developing new rules to spice it
up, the most significant factor in the season-opening Asia-Pacific swing has been rain.
The Formula One road show started negotiating the tricky business of making its way back to Europe on Monday after a thrilling Chinese
Grand Prix, the third of the first four races of the new season where wet weather played a major role.
The result has been plenty of entertainment but just one real glimpse of the way the new rules banning refuelling might change races, and
that in the season-opening race in Bahrain which was by far the dullest race of the lot.
More tinkering of the rules might yet be in the pipeline, according to the sport's commercial manager Bernie Ecclestone.
"We'll have to take a look at it, it's all down to the technical regulations," he told reporters in Shanghai.
The main beneficiary of the rain has been world champion Jenson Button, whose victory for McLaren in Shanghai on Sunday mirrored his
success on a wet track in Australia last month and gave him a 10-point lead in the title race.
Ferrari, which won in Bahrain through Fernando Alonso, would certainly welcome another procession or two having struggled through the
last three races.
The Spaniard was left appealing for a "normal" race after finishing fourth in Shanghai and team boss Stefano Domenicali spoke
of "a slight feeling of regret" over their start to the season.
"We have definitely ended up with less than we were capable of, sometimes because of incidents beyond our control, and sometimes
because of things that were down to us," he said.
Just one victory by Sebastian Vettel in Malaysia from four pole positions is not the kind of return Red Bull would have wanted,
particularly after locking down the front row in China.
"Sixth and eighth isn't the result that we were looking for from first and second, but it is such a lottery in chaotic
conditions," team boss Christian Horner said.
Vettel's Australian team mate Mark Webber, who started second and finished eighth after an error-strewn race, blamed the pace of the car
in wet conditions.
"We weren't quick enough... simple as that," he said.
Lewis Hamilton has certainly not lacked pace in the wet and his second place in a McLaren one-two in Shanghai was the best return from
three brilliant drives in which he has provided many of the racing highlights of the season so far.
The 2008 champion's enthralling three-lap duel with seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher on Sunday was a dream come true for
many Formula One fans.
Schumacher has, however, struggled on his return from retirement with Mercedes and will be banking on significant improvements to his car
before the next race in Barcelona on 9 May.
All the other teams will be looking for upgrades too, but first the cars will have to get back to Europe.
Formula One officials are hoping the flight ban caused by volcanic ash cloud will be over by the end of the week and a fleet of jumbo
jets are on standby in Shanghai.
"If we lose three or four days, we can live with it. If we lose the cars for a week and beyond, then it becomes challenging,"
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said.