MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Chinese GP

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If F1 was sick and in need of a doctor in Australia, then it must have taken some amazing medicine to get back on its feet for what proved to be a thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix last time out.

Sebastian Vettel’s shock victory for Ferrari rocked the Formula 1 paddock, which had resigned itself to another year of unchallenged Mercedes dominance as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg shared the wins among themselves.

Instead, we now have a fascinating dynamic to take into the rest of the season. Ferrari’s pace could well prove to be nothing more than a ‘flash in the pan’ – a circumstantial victory – but in reality, it appears that Vettel is well-placed to keep the Silver Arrows checking their mirrors in 2015.

So for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, MotorSportsTalk’s Luke Smith and Tony DiZinno have some tough calls to make in their predictions. Will Mercedes resume normal service, or can Ferrari pull the same trick for the second race in a row?

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Mercedes may have suffered a heavy defeat in Malaysia, but you can expect normal service to resume here. The cool conditions in China should work in the favor of the Silver Arrows, but it will be interesting to see whether Mercedes’ tire woes crop up again this weekend.

Surprising FinishRomain Grosjean. Grosjean’s luck so far this season has been rotten (to put it mildly), but the baseline pace of the Lotus E23 Hybrid is very good indeed. You can expect the Frenchman to finish inside the top ten if he can have a trouble-free race weekend in China.

Most to ProveNico Rosberg. Is this the same Nico Rosberg that challenged Lewis Hamilton for the title in 2014? It doesn’t look like it. The German driver has done very little of note on track, and hasn’t given his illustrious teammate a great deal to worry about. He must hit back this weekend, or risk going 3-0 down in the intra-team battle.

Additional Storyline to WatchRed Bull versus Toro Rosso. Being beaten by your supposed B-team is pretty embarrassing. Red Bull looks to be in disarray at the moment, but usually runs well in China. All eyes will be on Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat this weekend to see if they can get back on their feet, but don’t hold your breath.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. I don’t think Mercedes will screw up the strategy twice in a row. Hamilton has three prior wins at China and he’ll be poised to get back on form this weekend.

Surprising FinishRomain Grosjean. This should be a good circuit for the Mercedes-powered Lotus, and I could see Grosjean breaking through for his first points score of the year. An eighth or ninth seems realistic, perhaps seventh if all the stars align.

Most to ProveForce India. Compared to the other Mercedes-powered teams, Force India is a bit on the back foot. At present, the team’s goal of points seems optimistic, and both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez have yet to star this season.

Additional Storyline to WatchFerrari’s intra-team battle. Sebastian Vettel’s win stole the headlines in Malaysia, but Kimi Raikkonen’s run to fourth was just as impressive. Is this the weekend where Kimi gets ahead of Seb? Both are past race winners and on current form, should be in contention for podium positions.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes

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For full broadcasting details of the Chinese Grand Prix, click here.