Daniel Ricciardo was coming on strong in the closing laps of the Chinese Grand Prix but Fernando Alonso held on to bring Ferrari to its first F1 podium of the 2014 season. Both Ferrari drivers finished in the points for the third time this year; Kimi Raikkonen brought his Ferrari F14T to the finish in eighth place.
Mercedes dominated again, scoring their fourth win out of four Grand Prixs. It was also the third in a row for Lewis Hamilton. But Ferrari, and their fans, finally had something to cheer about. Alonso had quite the start coming off the grid, taking third place right away but former teammate Felipe Massa was coming up fast as well and the two had a big collision before entering the first turn. Amazingly neither car was damaged and they fell into line. Massa was victim of a poor pit stop later in the race and his chances for a podium were gone.
Complaints of tyre graining early on came from a lot of drivers including Alonso and Raikkonen and they switched off the softer tyre to the harder compound at the first stop and stayed with them for the remainder of the race. Track surface temperatures eventually started to climb as the sun attempted to come out, helping with the graining issue. Alonso still wore his tyres to the ragged edge to keep ahead of the fast closing Red Bull of Ricciardo in the end. All of this success comes on the heels of a regime change at the top of the Ferrari F1 department. Stefano Domencali stepped down as team principal after the Bahrain GP and head of Ferrari North America Marco Mattiacci stepped in. Mattiacci came from Ferrari’s road car side of the spectrum and this was his first GP leading the F1 pit.
The podium finish is a great boost of confidence before heading into the European swing of the schedule in a few weeks. The Spanish Grand Prix is on 11th May and is usually a great stomping ground for Ferrari and the home country of Alonso. The cars are different from last year but Ferrari have to feel good coming off this success and heading to a place where both cars were on the podium last year, with Alonso winning and Massa finishing third. Their new driver Raikkonen was also on the podium with Lotus in second. Proof that they know how to get it done in Spain and hopefully the updated F14T will continue to prove that Ferrari still have what it takes to be at the top.
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