Applogies for the delay on this, I did watch the race on Sunday but just haven’t had time to post.
Jenson Button opened his 2012 account with an emphatic win in Australia, making it his 3rd win around albert park in 4 years. The McLaren looked sharp all weekend with Lewis Hamilton taking pole on Saturday ahead of the race winner. The vital overtake was Jenson’s dive into the first corner and then opened up a gap to keep him out of the DRS zone. Lewis lost out to the saftey car and finished 3rd while defending champion Vettel took 2nd after a good recovery drive from 6th on the grid. This year is lining up to be the vintage year that was promised as many cars look to have good qualifying pace but are a little shakey in the race and vice versa. However there are still many questions left to be answered this coming weekend in Malaysia:
1. Do Lotus have the second fastest car?
Romain Grosjean put the Lotus in 3rd place around Albert Park and unfortunatly couldn’t convert it into solid points. However Kimi Raikkonen made his way through the field and ended up finishing 7th showing that the E20 (the 20th car from the Enstone team that has been Benetton/Renault/Lotus) has got the whole package. Kimi looks race sharp and that quali lap from Grosjean was a beaut. Contenders?
2. Merecedes pace and their front wing?
Mercedes said they were dissapointed with qualifying 4th and 7th and in the race further dissapointment beckoned with Schumacher’s car pitching him into the gravel due to a lack of 3rd gear and Rosberg struggling with tyre deg. The team have admitted that they haven’t got the best out of the car in race trim and that the do have a slight issue with tyre wear. However next weekend at a full blown permenant race circuit should see whether they have pace or not. Also in Malaysia it will be interesting to see how much of a difference their rumoured F-Duct front wing will give them.
3. Can Sauber and Williams upset the front?
Sauber showed that not a lot has changed from last year, a pretty ordinary qualifying along with stunning race pace. The only difference being that Sergio Perez was running on par with the leaders times for most of the race but he tried to push his tyre’s one lap too far and lost out at the end. The Williams in the hands of Pastor Maldonado looks like it means serious buisness, which is good news for all those concerned. Its a shame he crashed out on the last lap leaving questions about Williams rookie duo and Senna had a poor weekend getting to only lap 52 before the wrecking ball of Massa’s prancing horse took him out.
4. What about Force India?
We REALLY dont know where Force India are, the top Independant constructor from last year said they were gunning for 4th place in the constructors and after last weekend you’d have to say they are dreaming. However Paul Di Resta got blocked in qualifying and failed to get into Q3 while his new team mate did. Hulkenberg however managed the same amount of laps as the last time he raced at Albert Park, 0. Di Resta salvaged something from the weekend with taking a point in the chaos in the last lap but next weekend could be telling for the Silverstone based team.
The Scuderia appear to be in dire straights or are they? On Saturday everyone was shocked with how bad the prancing horse looked to drive and with both drivers out in Q2 it was certainly a shock. Fernando Alonso true to form squeezed everything out of the car on Sunday and managed to race his way to 5th which made everyone in the Scuderia happy. However come this weekend they could really be in trouble with McLaren, Red Bull, Lotus and Mercedes all looking faster along with Williams snapping at their heels. The could well be outside the top 10 on merit come Saturday.
6. Whos signed what?
Rumblings in the paddock based on a document leaked to Sky Sports are that Ferrari and Red Bull have already signed/agreed to a new concord deal for next year that will see them get a percentage of the sports commercial rights and allow them to place a person on the board. Worrying indeed for the remaining FOTA teams as Ferrari are the big fish that FOM needed to catch and seperating the teams has always been the method of trying to get the best deal for themselves. Although no-one expects Red Bull to still be racing in 20 years the team are the defending World Champions, the only other teams of real value are the traditional British duo of McLaren and Williams, along with possibly Sauber. If you don’t believe me go look at the entry list for the 2002 Championship and you will only spy those teams (excluding Red Bull). Renault and Merecedes will need to be won round as they supply enginges which could be quite damaging to 2013 if they walk off but the other teams need to really look at what they can do together to try and get a better deal.
Casey Stoner wrapped up the 2011 Moto GP championship at his home Grand Prix in Australia after Jorge Lornezo crashed in warm up and ruled himself out of the race and next week as well. There was further misery for Yamaha as Ben Spies couldn’t recover from his knock on the head and decided to sit the race out on saftey grounds after not being able to put together a lap on Sunday morning. His title means Casey was the first and last man to win a world title in the 880cc era and secures Honda a world championship in the formula, as next year we move to 1000cc bikes.
In other news Aoyama (former 250cc world champion) has confirmed hes moving to World Superbikes in a rather surprise move away from the Gresini Honda team, who while providing a factory spec bike to Simoncelli (who finished 2nd) couldn’t provide Aoyama with anything similar and he is currently in 10th place in the championship with a best finish of 4th. It leaves another spot open next year in a well respected team in a season where there will be a lot of new faces with the CRT bikes entering. Unfortunatly there is still no word on whether Suzuki are commited next year to running a bike, for the sake of top flight motorcycle racing I hope we do have 4 full manufactures next year and they all field quite a few bikes. It leaves 10 seats unaccounted for (plus whatever Suzuki run if anything) next year so we expect to see quite a bit of movement between Moto 2, Superbikes and Moto GP.
In F1 the Korean race provided a entertaining race that was won again by Sebastian Vettel despite McLarens pace all weekend, but there was positives for the Woking team with a pole position and Lewis Hamilton having a calm weekend to second place. There was some great battles down the field with a seasons best showing from Toro Rosso with a 7th and 9th position. In terms of the constructors it looks as though the battle for 6th place will be intense now as Toro Rosso have pulled themselves up to within 12 points of Force India and Sauber while Renault are probably too far ahead despite not scoring.
Another race weekend another great exiciting race, with great overtaking down the field. And another win for Vettel while Hamilton heads into the barriers/back of someone…. except everyone at McLaren and Ferrari didn’t read the script for the youngest world champions homecoming.
Lewis Hamilton won the race ahead of Alonso and Webber who looked more than a match for “baby schumi” this weekend. While not blowing the race wide open Ferrari in particular seem to now have the measure of Red Bull and Alonso now sets his sights on chasing down Vettels huge lead. Still the German had an “off” weekend and finished 4th which is still no disaster despite being his worst finish this season, but with the top three teams now very equal this could really be a scrap for the rest of the season. Vettel looked ordinary in the pack and failed to get past Massa until the last lap pit stop duel between the two teams put the German out ahead of the Brazilian.
Jenson Button topped a miserable weekend retiring with Hydrolics issues after qualifying 7th, however Adrian Sutil drove a stormer in the Force India to 6th place ahead of the two Merecedes in 7th and 8th. Force India, who have been working on their race pace aim to chase down Sauber in the constructors championship with more strong points finishes.
At the back of the grid while Ricciardo moved forward and showed improved pace, including running ahead a Virgin car for a long time Chandok did himself no favours by finishing dead last and a lap down on the HRT cars. Despite a decent qualifying this surely was not the performance he was looking for and could be the nail in the coffin for the Indian, although I reckon a drive in India may not be out of the question.
Well what a race weekend we had Ferrari seemed really back on form and it looks like Alonso could of won without the unusual slip up in the pits from Red Bull who finished 2nd and 3rd. Although once again in Silverstone team favouritism at Red Bull reared its ugly head with Webber being told not to overtake Vettel in the closing stages. However the Austrialian has publically stated he ignored the request and went for the overtake, which makes one wonder how long he will be racing for the bull. This has smacks of Austria 2002 about it where Ferrari ordered Reubens to allow Michael Schumacher through despite his huge points gap.
Last year Ferrari allowed Alonso through in a similar manner, which despite being illegal (which this was not) set the Championship alive as Alonso was really struggling for points and Massa was effectivly out of the Championship.
It was a torrid weekend for McLaren at their home race, the British team probably enjoy the largest home support with their all British, all Word Champion driver line up. Lewis battled to 4th place (to the line) while the wheels literally came off for Jenson.
Paul di Resta had an immense qualifying underlining his talent, but another mix up in the pits underlined a bad day for the home team.
Roll on Deustchland.
Hey once again sorry for not posting up my thoughts on the blog but with it being bank holiday I’ve been rather busy. I hope you all agree it was a really interesting Monaco Grand Prix!!
Theres been lots of people saying this or that about Lewis Hamilton and whether he should be penilised. Its hard to say, there has been some analysis shown that Maldonado did turn in on Lewis however I think the overtake attempt on Massa at the hairpin was always going to end in tears. In my not very educated opinion it was simply a lunge from too deep much like the Paul Di Resta attempt, who did try and run Force India out of spare parts.
The race saw great drives from Kobayashi and Adrian Sutil (5th and 6th respectivly) which will earn them some decent points. We were also robbed of a proper ending due to the red flag, although I do agree with red flagging an event rather than run 6, 7, 8, 9 laps under the safety car which is a bit pointless. It was the first appearnce from the Safety car all season which actually brings the point that the racing afforeded by DRS and the Pirrelli rubber makes the sport safer as drivers are taking less half-chances (although thats about the best you can get at monaco.
Next up is montreal which has pretty much always delieverd a great race regardless of the F1 rules. Its mix of long straights, tight turns and street/permenant course provides a real set-up challenge. Also for the next two races there will be two DRS straights, which at Valencia might work great but Montreal could be mesmerising.
Elsewhere Davide Valsecchi picked up a maiden win for Team Air Asia (Run by Tony Fernandes of Team Lotus fame) in the GP2 feature race and Charles Pic picked up the sprint race hounours, which throws the GP2 title race wide open with Grosjean and Sam Bird tied at the top on 23 points and only 2 points seperating the top 5 drivers in the series. GP2 standings
Britian Dan Wheldon won the Indy 500 on a big weekend for motorsport, his second victory in the iconic race (the first being in his 2005 title year).
So the grand prix at the weekend turned out to be a interesting race mostly down to the tires. There was on track overtaking and overtaking in the pits (im someone who enjoys a mixture of the two) and the FIA even allowed the cars to go two abreast down the pit lane as its so wide at Catalyuna!!
Sebastian Vettel won but was hounded to the line by Lewis Hamilton with Jenson Button recovering from a poor start (he dropped down to 10th place) with a different strategy (3 stops) to take the final place. All 3 men ended up on the podium by overtaking on the track as well as great work by the pit crews. As expected however the DRS was not very succesful at this track, and it comes with the announcement that in Canada and Valencia there will be 2 DRS straights, which in Canada especially could be nothing short of mental. DRS however has this morning been banned in the tunnel for practice and qualifying at Monaco, which I personally think is wise for the first year of the system. If the FIA decides that its fine to use then we can ammend that next year, better than someone having a Hulkenberg esque crash.
Despite his incredible start Fernando Alonso finished 5th at a circuit which is regarded as the most car dependant on the calendar and by that I mean the difference the driver can make is smaller due to the aerodynamic dependance in the corners. He drove a spectacular home race taking the lead from the start, reminding everyone (if they needed it) that he is world world class in any team. But it highlighted how far behind Ferrari really are as Massa really struggled on the hard tire and Fernando dropped from the lead to finish a lap down.
McLaren and Red Bull seemed very equally matched in race trim despite the rediculous qualifying advantage however Mark Webber looks resigned to playing number 2, completly dejected after last years title upset by his young team mate. Despite gaining pole he finished 4th and 47 seconds off his team mate. With the two title contending teams way out in front its essentially a best of the rest competition with only Alonso attempting the odd upset. Ferrari are 3rd quickest (they did try and bring a cheeky new wing design that was turned down by the FIA), Mercedes seem to have overtaken Renault who have lost their way a little. Schumacher also out-raced Nico Rosberg (although he had DRS issues) which will be some tonic.
At the back of the grid HRT are now evenly matched with Virgin which is a major dissapointment for the all-digital squad (although that moniker is in doubt after rumours that the car last year saw a wind tunnel and this year they could well be heading the same way). Team Lotus however continue their march towards the mid-field with another impressive displaying with Kovalainen getting into Q2 and the team have still yet to extract maximum performance from their new upgrade.
Well we’ve had our first race of the year and while not a vintage Austrailian grand prix it still was a good watch. The DRS system seemed ok, obviously teams still have to sort it out but the tires also played their part too. But the drive of the day has to go to Vitaly Petrov picking up his maiden podium bring the renault home in 3rd place beating Ferraris and a red bull on the way. People have been asking what Robert could of done in the car and im not sure the top two steps were quite within reach. Vettel had a storming drive, perfectly in control throughout.