It has been an actionpacked weekend for us racefans. A bit of glorious rally action with Kimis well deserved points in his 3rd WRC rally and also a Formula 1 race to enjoy. Not bad.
What was bad however, was Ferraris and McLarens strategies during qualifying. Or should I say lack of. It was a wet qualifying session with very changing conditions. But listen. This is something even a kid would know. If its raining – you always go out as fast as possible and put in a bankers lap. If the conditions improve – you go out again. If they worsen – well at least you have one good lap that should bring you to Q2. Especially if you are a frontrunner. Its not exactly rocket science is it?
But what did McLaren and Ferrari do? Sit in their garage playing it cool and trusting conditions would improve. But they didnt. Result: Lewis Hamilton and both Ferraris out in Q1. Jenson Button just scraped through to Q2. While trying to improve his time he spun out and got stuck and couldnt participate in Q2 anyway. The joke is on them I guess. Do you remember Malaysia last year? Kimi was sent out on full wets on a completely dry track. Not exactly a brilliant strategy either.
But I guess I have to thank Ferrari and McLaren. Because it certainly made for an interesting race having 4 of the fastest cars starting from the back of the grid. I think we have found the cure for boring races people 🙂 Install sprinkler systems on all race tracks and send the fastest cars to the back. Nah, just kidding 😉
At the front we had Mark Webber on pole. He took a gamble with the intermediates and lucked out with them and got in a lap that was 1,3 seconds quicker than Nico Rosberg on full wets. Sebastian Vettel was also on full wets and took 3rd on the grid. The rookies Nico Hulkenberg and Kobayashi both made it into Q3 which was great to see, even if it was helped by the cock-up from the big teams.
The lights go out and with Webber on pole and a dry race ahead, it was his race to win. But instead Vettel gets a great start with minimal wheelspin and overtakes both Rosberg and Webber, brakes late and dives on the inside at turn 1 and takes the lead. Fantastic. Luckily Christian Horner had a talk with both Red Bull drivers before the race and told them to behave. If not, we would probably have seen Webber lose his head again with another insane and dangerous blocking move. Thank goodness he listened to Horner.
From then on we didnt see much of the Red Bulls due to all the action happening down the order. Plenty of overtaking moves and Lewis Hamilton had the majority of those. He started from the 20th position and by lap 11 he was fighting for 6th position while the Ferraris were stuck behind Buemi in 14th and 15th place. Some nice driving there by the Brit.
His battle with Petrov in the Renault has been discussed and debated a lot. I am of course talking about Hamilton passing Petrov and then weaving back and forth down the straight with Petrov right behind him. My first instinct was that it was a completely illegal move as you are only allowed one move to defend your position. But as some people have pointed out, it was Hamilton that moved first and Petrov then followed Hamilton to stay in his slipstream. As opposed to Petrov making a passing move and Hamilton then moving to block. I can see that argument so I guess a warning in this case was the right decision although it looked pretty crazy. Crazy but entertaining. People may disagree but that is my personal take on it. Here is a nice little gif file of the weaving: http://i43.tinypic.com/1zp2tld.gif
Felipe Massa kept Alonso honest once again. He had a better start and kept the Spaniard behind him. Alonso apparently had a downshift issue but it didnt seem to bother him all the time, setting a fastest lap at one point. And we got to see a great battle at the end between him and Button. Button had once again made an early stop like in Australia. He switched to hards on lap 10 and made them last for the remainder of the race. Alonso had much fresher tires and was closing the gap to Button and eventually caught up with him. I was sure Alonso would be able to pass him but he failed to do so. Perhaps his downshift issue was acting up again. It all came to an end however, with Alonsos engine giving up 2 laps before the finish. In my calculation this means he now only has 5 fresh engines for the rest of the season. 16 races – with practice sessions and all. Thats a whole lotta miles and its starting to become a worry for Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettels race seemed undramatic. From what I could tell from the live timing he was controlling the race and his pace just right. Very much like he did the 2 previous races until his technical failures. Always kept a small buffer to Mark Webber. If Webber pushed, Vettel answered. Not much to say except it was a well deserved win for him. And it was in due time. He is now equal on points with Alonso and the game is on again. Felipe Massa now actually leads the championship by 2 points. Who would have thought that last summer? He has made an impressive recovery to be able to compete at this level and hats off to that.
SORENS RACE RATING – 8 out of 10
A bit high maybe but I really enjoyed myself. There was always a battle to follow or some other action took place. Also – the best man won, meaning the championship is wide open and that plays a big role too in my ratings. I told you it was emotionally driven 😉 I gave Bahrain a 4 and this race was at the very least twice as good, so I think its right on the money.
DRIVER OF THE DAY
My driver of the day would have to be Vettel. He did exactly what he needed to do at the right time. Took a commanding and convincing win and made no mistakes. He looks a lot more matured compared to last year. Not that he was bad or anything then. But he seems incredibly focused. He still jokes around which we like to see, but he has also got that serious look upon his face. I think last year made him into a more complete driver.
I also have to mention Hamilton. He was responsible for the majority of the action and entertainment in the race and for that I have to give him props.
Now we have the race in China in 2 weeks to look forward to. It also coincides with Rally Turkey so another busy race weekend for Raikkos and racefans alike 😀
Soren says – give your neighbour a hug.