F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer battles for position with Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo at the start during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer battles for position with Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo at the start during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (front L) leads Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg (front R) into the first corner at the start of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (front L) leads Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg (front R) into the first corner at the start of the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM09 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo leads Felipe Massa of Brazil driving the (19) Williams Martini Racing Williams FW38 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, and Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, right, both with a damaged front wing the front wing drive at the start of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China, Sunday, April 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Debris flies from the front wing of the car of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain after he makes contact with other driver during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China, Sunday, April 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, center, steers his car without the front wing at the start of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China, Sunday, April 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany, center, and other drivers are escorted by a safety car after a crash during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, in China, Sunday, April 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg (C) takes a corner during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: WANG ZHAO via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo leads Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia, front, steers his car during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, in China, Sunday, April 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Rio Haryanto of Indonesia driving the (88) Manor Racing MRT-Mercedes MRT05 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo battles for position with Felipe Nasr of Brazil driving the (12) Sauber F1 Team Sauber C35 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Ferrari's Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen (R) steers his car in front of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: JOHANNES EISELE via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Sauber F1 Team's Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson takes a corner during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo takes a corner during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Haas F1 Team's Brazilian driver Esteban Gutierrez takes a corner during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg takes a corner during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Williams Martini Racing's Brazilian driver Felipe Massa takes a corner during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Felipe Massa of Brazil drives the 9 Williams Martini Racing Williams FW38 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Dan Istitene via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Williams Martini Racing Williams FW38 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • McLaren driver Jenson Button of Britain steers his car during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China, Sunday, April 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton takes a corner during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Felipe Nasr of Brazil driving the (12) Sauber F1 Team Sauber C35 Ferrari 059/5 turbo goes off the track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland drives the Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H Ferrari 059/5 turbo during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Dan Istitene via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Sergio Perez of Mexico drives the 1 Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM09 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Dan Istitene via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Daniil Kvyat of Russia drives the 6 Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Dan Istitene via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Red Bull Racing's Russian driver Daniil Kvyat (front) leaves the pits during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: WANG ZHAO via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H Ferrari 059/5 turbo (Shell GP) on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg crosses the finish line to win the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Renault F1 Team's Danish driver Kevin Magnussen steers his car during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: JOHANNES EISELE via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Felipe Massa of Brazil drives the 9 Williams Martini Racing Williams FW38 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Dan Istitene via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer and Carlos Sainz of Spain driving the (55) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR11 Ferrari 060/5 turbo battle for position on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Dan Istitene via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Ferrari's Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen (R) leads Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • Haas F1 Team's French driver Romain Grosjean takes a corner during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Pascal Wehrlein of Germany driving the (94) Manor Racing MRT-Mercedes MRT05 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Clive Mason via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer leads Nico Rosberg of Germany driving the (6) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes F1 WO7 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo and Daniil Kvyat of Russia driving the (26) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1
  • McLaren Honda's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso takes a corner during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / Gregory BAKER AND GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREGORY BAKER,GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREGORY BAKER via Getty Images
China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany, center, leaps while celebrating his win with Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, lett, and Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat of Russia, right, in the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, in China, Sunday, April 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • China F1 GP Auto Racing
  • Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, left, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany, center, and Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat of Russia, right, celebrate with champagne after the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit, in China, Sunday, April 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
  • Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1-PODIUM
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1-PODIUM
  • Second-placed Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel (L) of Germany speaks with third-placed Red Bull Racing driver Daniil Kvyat (C) of Russia, as race winner Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg (R) reacts on the podium after the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1-PODIUM
  • AUTO-PRIX-CHN-F1-PODIUM
  • Second-placed Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel (L) of Germany speaks with third-placed Red Bull Racing driver Daniil Kvyat of Russia on the podium after the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 17, 2016. / AFP / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: GREG BAKER via Getty Images
F1 Grand Prix of China
  • F1 Grand Prix of China
  • SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 17: Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP, Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari, and Daniil Kvyat of Russia and Red Bull Racing celebrate on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 17, 2016 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Mark Thompson via Getty Images
Normally we use this space to provide a lengthy recap of the weekend's Formula 1 race, but we're going to try something different since most folks reading this know what happened at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday. Instead, we'll alight on what we saw as the big issues in and around the race. Let us know what you think in Comments.

Proper qualifying is back. Thank goodness. It only took a month of embarrassment to fix it.

The Ferraris and the Red Bulls mix it up at the start of the 2016 Chinese F1 FGrand Prix.

And so is passing! For the third race in a row, big performance improvements at the ten teams behind Mercedes-AMG Petronas and a wider tire selection at this race graced us with opening stints filled with dicing cars. Seeing the McLarens on screen doesn't make us cringe. Manor doesn't only make the global feed when it's being lapped. We've been complaining about parade races for so long that we forgot excitement was possible without rain or wholesale regulation changes. Yes, Mercedes is still the king of the jungle, but there are some other proper midfield beasts on the hunt, too.

Debris flies from the front wing of the car of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain after he makes contact with other driver during the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit.

Malfunctions up and down the grid did help the show in Shanghai, like Lewis Hamilton suffering perpetual troubles, Nico Hülkenberg's runaway front wheel which red-flagged Q2, and Sebastian Vettel's and Kimi Räikkönen's flubbed hot laps in Q3 that let Daniel Ricciardo slip by into second on the grid. Come race day things went all Grand Theft Auto at Turn 1 on the opening lap, sending some of the best cars to the pits. Then came Ricciardo's puncture while leading, then came the Safety Car – all by Lap 5. Nico Rosberg got 38 seconds of airtime on the way to victory – at the start and the finish, and that happened to be his margin of victory, too – otherwise he was a ghost. Everyone else was struggling and juggling.

Nico Rosberg leads the 2016 Chinese F1 Grand Prix.

Rosberg's win at the Bahrain Grand Prix put the German at five consecutive victories going back to last year's Mexican Grand Prix. The history books show that any driver who's won five straight contests has gone on to win the championship. With his triumph in China, the German has won the season's first three races, the history books again show that the other nine drivers who've pulled that off have gone on to win the championship. Rosberg, 36 points ahead of his teammate in the standings, is having none of it. He said of the other victors, "But they didn't have Lewis Hamilton as their team-mate."

Daniil Kvyat of Russia drives the 6 Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB12 TAG Heuer during the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit.

Perhaps Mercedes was right not to make an engine deal with Red Bull last season. Renault has done nothing special so far with its own engine, while Red Bull and its "Tag Heuer" units are creeping up to the front of the field. If Ricciardo hadn't got a flat who knows what would have happened. When chasing Hamilton later in the race he couldn't pass the Mercedes on the straights, but easily made his move through the infield. Ricciardo has scored three fourth places this year and is third in the driver's championship, three points ahead of Vettel. Daniil Kyvat is fifth, one point behind Raikkonen. Mercedes says it's got one eye on Ferrari, Ferrari needs to have an eye-and-a-half on Red Bull.

Kimi Raikkonen loses his front wing after being hit by teammate Sebastian Vettel at the start of the 2016 Chinese F1 Grand Prix.

Speaking of Ferrari, we still don't know their true pace because every weekend brings a comedy of errors. Raikkonen took a DNF in Australia, Vettel took one in Bahrain, the teammates collided in China. Vettel screamed at Kvyat over the incident, then backed off later on. He probably saw the replay and realized he left a gap as big as Nepal on the inside. Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene said he didn't blame Kvyat, and company boss Sergio Marchionne also refused to call out Red Bull, saying, "Two Ferrari drivers colliding is not very Ferrari, but I'm more embarrassed for them than for me, if I'm honest." The scarlet squad definitely has some special sauce, being second in the Manufacturer's Championship with room to spare back to third place. But we'd like to see them put a clear weekend together.

One more question around Ferrari is: will it be joined by another B-team (after Haas)? Sauber is in the worst financial trouble we've known it to be in – including when it couldn't pay an overdue electric bill in 2013 – late with employee salaries two months in a row and needing bailouts by Bernie Ecclestone and Marcus Ericsson's Swedish backers. The rumor is that it needs a big money sponsor or a buyer. Enter Sergio Marchionne and Alfa Romeo. The Fiat CEO has been clanging pots about getting Alfa back into F1, saying, "The Alfa myth was born with racing, and somehow we have to get back there." Observers see an opportunity for Alfa to take over Sauber's state-of-the-art facilities if it doesn't mind being based in Switzerland as opposed to Italy. Others think Fiat might set Alfa up as a satellite Ferrari team, like the American outfit.

Haas F1 Team's Brazilian driver Esteban Gutierrez takes a corner during the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

The Chinese Grand Prix was the end of Cloud Nine and scoring points for the American Haas team. Romain Grosjean complained about his car from the beginning of Free Practice 1 to after the end of the race, even asking the team with two laps to go if he could retire the car. The team endured a flare-up of the same brake-by-wire issue it suffered in pre-season testing, and it still has other undiagnosed problems. Esteban Gutíerrez at least made it to the finish for the first time this season, back in 14th place. We'll get an idea in two weeks about whether this was a hiccup or a new, ugly reality.

F1 itself might have a few hiccups coming this month, too. Pirelli said today is the deadline for the sport to agree on new testing rules next year. If there's no agreement, the Italian tire maker says it will withdraw from the sport. The teams also need to agree to new engine rules for next year before a vote at the end of this month, but an agreement looks unlikely. And the big-deal working group that overhauled regulations to promote faster cars and more overtaking next year is now being slammed by engineers, team principals, and drivers as useless and counterproductive. Ah, F1. We'll have more from Russia in two weeks.


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