So the 2010 Formula One season kicks off not with the hoped for BANG, but a rather dull processional whimper. Livened up only by Adrian Newey once again showing that he can build a very fast car, but he can’t build a very strong car. Not helped by Renualt giving them a rubbish engine
Redbull were all over this place like a rash. They had a few problems on Friday, giving the mechanics their first all nighter of the season, but they came out on Saturday morning with a car that flew through the desert. Ferrari was expected to take pole with ease, but Vettel storms the middle section to leave Alonso behind Massa. Not the expected result. Although Redbull did have a fast car during the testing season, it always got piped by the bigger boys. Maybe Redbull have been sandbagging somewhat.
Meanwhile down at the Mercedes end of the pit McLaren where rather surprised to be so far behind Redbull and the much heralded return of the prodigal Micheal had turned into a wake as first Nico went faster than him and then everyone else improved. “it’ll all be different come the race” said Ross.
McLaren were happy that their car wasn’t as awful as the car last season, but winter testing had put them fighting for pole, not scrapping around with the Merc and Nico. The Hamilton/Button love in was still in full swing with much back slapping and “we’ll be better once the race starts” but there were a few worried faces in the pits during Quli 3.
Meanwhile the rest did their best not to be too embarrassing. HRT got one car out on Friday and the second just made it into qualifying 1. But they were woefully slow. Lotus got their cars out all nice and clean and made a good job of fighting the Virgin boys. This time Glock beat Trulli to the Tail End Charlie pole, and made sure he pointed it out to Trulli during the BBC interview. Lotus might not have the fast car, but they have got a solid car however.
Of the others the Renault looked half built and slow in Petrov’s hands. Kubica did alright but was nothing special. The Hulk and Barrichello were comfortable in the best of the rest crew, Barrichello almost stopping the current world champions from making Q3. Sauber did not live up to their testing promise, the car looked slow and very twitchy in the Mickey Mouse new section.
Most pundits said that qualifying was going to be the important bit of the weekend. With new tire regs no one was quite sure if the tires would last a full distance, so were edging on 1 stop strategy but had a 2 stop if the need arouse. If they one stopped then they had to be high on the grid to avoid losing spots to faster cars on 2 stops.
Come Sunday and that’s exactly what happened. Vettel made a nice clean start off the line followed by Alonso sneaking past Massa. Hamilton made a good start to get to second by turn 3 but got edged out by Alonso and dropped back to 5th behind Nico. ..... and that was the excitement over with. Webber tried to escape everyone by using a smoke screen as his engine appear to lunch itself in turn 1 and 2. But nothing else happened and he continued on his merry way. HRT and chandhok was the first driver out after 2 laps. Apparently after only doing 7 laps all weekend, he found a new bump on lap 7 and speared off into the wall. The Virgins dropped out next leaving Lotus to cruse to an unopposed Tail End Charlie Challenge win.
The rest of the field pretty much held station. Hamilton sneaked passed Nico during the pit stops and all continued as before. Until the curse of the Newey design office struck and Vettels exhaust started burning a hole through the body work and then the Renault engine developed a faulty spark plug. He dropped back allowing Alonso to sail off into the sunset.
So a fine first win in a Ferrari for Alonso, well done I suppose to him. The Ferrari might not have the legs of the Redbull in qualifying, but it’s race pace is going to be hard to beat I suspect. He says he had the measure of Vettel all race. I’m not too sure that overtaking is any easier than it was last year.
Massa make a superb come back with 2nd. But he lost the race to Alonso in the first corner and he’ll know he can’t afford to let Alonso through so easily next time.
Hamilton gets good solid 3rd, he wasn’t on the pace of the Ferraris or the Redbulls. But he beat Button comfortably and that’s what he’ll be most positive about.
Vettel makes it to 4th in the end in a race he should have won. Like the championship he lost last year, reliability robbed him of the result.
Nico in 5th does a good job of being M. Schumacher’s team made. He beat the 7 times world champion all weekend and then drove away from him in the race. Lot’s of smug pundits said he struggle when Mickey hit the track on Sunday. But Nico held his nerve and did a very creditable job.
Not the dream return for Schumacher in 6th that we expected. He looks rusty and conservative in the car. He’ll get better, but how long will that take.
The Current world champion Button in 7th had a lack lustre weekend, scrapped into final qualifying, but never looked like challenging the top 5.
Webber, didn’t hit anyone and made it to 8th
9th Liuzzi did alright from a long way back.
10th for Barrichello.