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Alonso wins in China

NEWS STORY
14/04/2013

Even before the cars have turned a wheel today fans - and drivers - are unhappy with the current state of Formula One.

Yesterday, for a horrible few minutes, we faced the prospect of the drivers going out for Q3 for show, as opposed to setting a competitive time. The mandate given to Pirelli to produce tyres that deliberately degrade is turning the sport into a farce, exactly what it doesn't need what with the team orders debate still rumbling on.

Then again, wasn't the team orders row in Malaysia precisely about the current state of the sport, strategy over racing? Weren't the Red Bull and Mercedes duos told to hold station in order to preserve their cars?

Hours before today's race we were receiving emails from readers, frustrated that the sport is becoming too strategic, a view best summed up by Mark Webber who, looking ahead to the opening stages of the race, said: "It'll look good in the first five or six laps having everyone fighting but it's a little bit WWF at the moment," he said, referring to wrestling not World Wildlife. "If you race people, then you're in trouble. So just don't race; put the tyre on and don't race anyone. Just try and get home."

A farcical state of affairs.

Consequently, though we already knew that pole position isn't that important here, we now face the prospect that the entire qualifying session was a waste of time. The option (soft) tyres are like cheese and consequently drivers will want to ditch them as soon as possible, hence the cat and mouse strategy.

Having seen Webber demoted to the back of the grid after his car ran out of fuel in Q2, Red Bull have taken the option to make numerous changes to his car and therefore he will start from the pitlane. Might they also opt to pit him after just one lap.

Back on the grid, Vettel and Hulkenberg deliberately didn't set a time and can therefore choose what tyres to start the race on, while Button, who qualified eighth, is the highest placed qualifier on the prime (medium) rubber.

We have a scintillating grid but the fact is that the strategic question mark over it, courtesy of strategy, suggests it might have little bearing on the race itself.

Maybe the current state of F1 was best summed up by Kimi Raikkonen yesterday. When asked if he preferred the 'old fashioned' racing when the sport was a series of sprints, courtesy of aero rules and refuelling, and F1 2013 which is all about controlling pace and managing the car, he said: "It makes no difference, because this is what we have and you'd better like it or do something else."

This is one of the most exciting drivers in F1. If he's not getting a buzz from it and feels it's all about doing what the rules dictate, what hope for the fans.

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