Season 16 marched onward this week to the Shanghai International Circuit in China, which saw the drivers deal with the first appearance of raindrops since the start of the season.
In a drizzly qualifying session which saw all drivers set their times on the intermediate compounds, it was Morturiom who took a surprise pole position, thus making it three different pole-sitters from three races. Just 0.257 seconds behind sat new McLaren driver Westyy, ahead of the Ferrari of Ramdrop and the other McLaren of his team mate OmegaIV. Overall, just 0.630 seconds covered the top five in qualifying – an impressive feat given the variable conditions.
It would be a dry start to the race, with teams allowed freedom of choice over tyre compounds due to the wet qualifying session. The two McLarens would start on soft tyres, with the polesitter and both Ferraris electing to run the medium compounds, perhaps in anticipation of further rain. Inevitably, it was the McLaren pairing who made the best starts, as Westyy leapfrogged Morturiom into turn one to take the lead, with his team mate following suit to take third from Ramdrop. A mysterious Virtual Safety Car period occurred as the pack exited turn two, which gave teams a chance to regroup briefly before the restart.
The top four remained close over the first ten laps, until OmegaIV and Morturiom clashed at turn two; sending the Force India driver at a 90 degree angle towards the wall. Ramdrop was able to capitalise from this as OmegaIV hesitated as he gathered his focus, making a move into turn one on the following lap as Omega went deep, sliding onto the grass. Further down the road, the Red Bull of Leader experienced a punctured tyre, scattering debris onto the track, which brought out the first and only Safety Car of the session. Without hesitation, the two McLaren drivers stacked themselves in the pits in order to change onto the medium tyre, handing the lead of the race to Ferrari and Ramdrop.
From this period onwards, it was a game of cat and mouse as Ramdrop slowly but surely extended his lead, as the McLarens ran nose to tail and Morturiom began to catch back up.
The teams received the message that rainfall was expected on around lap 45, duly prompting Ramdrop, Omega and Morturiom to pit onto fresh soft tyres in attempts to cover each other off in this final dry period. Westyy would assume the lead for a handful of laps as he extended his stint on the medium tyre, before switching to supersofts, which saw him drop back to fourth place as the rain began to fall.
After the switch to intermediates, it was once again Ramdrop who would prevail, to win by a margin of 9.769 seconds from OmegaIV, as Westyy completed the podium after an unsuccessful strategy call from Morturiom saw him struggle for the closing laps on a set of wet tyres.