Monday, 28 March 2011

What's that in the distance ... oh it's Vettel winning

Well, wasn’t that all jolly interesting and a little surprising.

It has got to be worrying for the rest of the teams though, Webber included. Vettel rolled up on Friday and never really looked back to check where everyone else was. The McLaren’s tried to spoil the party on Friday afternoon, but really the Redbull is about a gazillion miles faster with the cheeky German at the wheel. Especially considering they don’t have a KERS system fitted to that car. At the end of Qualifying it was almost a second faster than Hamilton, a country mile by anyone’s standard.

More surprising perhaps though, was the fact that the car behind Vettel was the McLaren of Hamilton. A team who two weeks ago, threw away the original design for the back of the car and started the whole thing again from scratch. To date they had not got the exhaust and gear box to go a race distance and here they were, the closest thing to a challenge.

They weren’t the only happy face in the pits on Saturday evening. Petrov had somehow kept it all together and got his car up 6th for the race. Whilst his much fancied bearded team mate had gone out in Q1. Kobayashi had also gone well sticking the Sauber into 9th just ahead of Buemi in the Torro Rosso in 10th.

Not so happy where the Ferrari and Mercedes teams. Who had both expected to be up the front giving Redbull a bit of a challenge. Alonso faffed around to a not too bad 5th but behind the McLaren’s and Redbulls, Massa over drove his car into 8th spinning as Q3 came to a close to annoy various drivers on hot laps. Rosberg did alright getting it to 7th but Schumacher who had given it all “the big I AM, I’m a winner me “, during the run up to the weekend couldn’t make out of Q2 and stopped in 11th. Hardy har har.

Also massively unhappy were the whole HRT squad, who spent most of Friday and Saturday trying to get their cars into some sort of working order. Liuzzi eventually made it out to do a few laps, but by the time Q3 ended HRT were so far behind Vettel you need something akin to the Hubble telescope to find them. They were informed by the FIA that they were no longer allowed to play with the big boys because they were just too damn slow.

Come the Race and as suspected Vettel just drove off into the distance. He didn’t look like being challenged all day, trading fastest laps with Hamilton for the first 10 laps or so. All this without a KERS system or any opportunity to use his silly flappy rear wing do darr. He just calmly and methodically blew everyone else away. When Button tried to hold him up to give Hamilton a sporting chance, Vettel just drove round the outside of him. By the end he was cruising around waving his finger around and being extremely smug and German. Winning the first race of the season always set a driver up for a good year and it’s going to be a brave soul to bet against Vettel making it two championship in a row.

Behind Vettel, Hamilton gave chase and to be fair kept him honest all day, but a broken under tray at two thirds distance put paid to his efforts. However if you’d told the plucky lad he’s be on the podium next to Vettel in Australia he’d have laughed at you .. to your face. That car was a complete mess two weeks ago and here it is up there best of the rest. If they can now develop the car as they usually do, it’ll be race winner.

In third Petrov, no I don’t know how he did it either. He didn’t hit anyone, he didn’t crash and when he got hassled by Webber he had the measure of him. All told a great result for the much derided Russian. Who I have to say was jolly nice in all his interviews afterwards and came across an likable chap. If he can do that again once Ferrari and Mercedes their act together, I shall be mightily impressed.

Alonso eventually managed to make it to 4th with a bit of luck and a tail wind. The Ferrari didn’t look all that sharp during the weekend and must have surprised the boys from Maranello, who all expected to be up there with Vettel. Alonso did alright but he was never where the action was and just sort of kept it on the grey stuff.
Webber just can’t get a break in Australia. Another 5th spot for him and he looked utterly bemused by that. His team mate was all happy smiles and “check me I’m ace me” whist the dour Ozzy just couldn’t work out why he was so far back. On the bright side he didn’t hit any one this time.

Button finally made it to 6th after spending most of the race looking at the back of Massa dog slow Ferrari. He tried lap after lap to use his flappy rear wing to get a run on the Ferrari into turn 1 but Massa was having none of it and kept pulling just far enough ahead to thwart the Brit. Finally Button made a desperate lunge up the inside of the hairpin and ran out of road. Taking to the escape road he emerged ahead then told all and sundry that he was miles ahead of Massa and it was all find and dandy. The FIA raised it McLaren eyebrow up another notch and hauled Button in for a drive through penalty. So Button did a good job to get back to 6th really and it shows that the McLaren is a car with some solid speed.

Mass made it to 7th eventually and looked rubbish all weekend. Spins in practice and qualifying, He never looked fast and must surly be counting the days till he gets his marching orders. Most defiantly a Number two driver now, he’s had his shot at the title and I doubt he’ll ever get another. Welcome to team Alonso !

Now 8th should be the Sauber of Perez who did a cracking job one stopping his way into the top ten. Massa had to make 3 stops to claw his way into the points. Whilst the young Mexican kept his nose clean and the car in one piece to get a great result. That is until the FIA checked the leading edge of the rear wing and found it had a square profile and not a round profile. A tiny tiny thing that had passed scrutinering with no trouble, got pinged in post race. Perez and Kobyashi got disqualified and that was the end of their champagne party.

In his place Buemi didn’t really do much to get 8th

Sutil got 9th as Koby got fired and this weeks “did he take part ithe race award” I missed him entirely and thankfully he missed the walls.

Finally a very lucky 10th for Di Resta. Who appears to have been told to let his team mate go past him. Welcome to big school lad. Up to that point he had been faster than Sutil all weekend, but ran out of puff as the race went on. Still it’s a good debut and let’s hope there’s more to come from him.

So all in all it was okay. I don’t think the flappy rear wing was much cope. There were a few occasions where you could see it made a difference to the driver overtaking. But mostly the drivers in the top 8 were all much of a muchness and couldn’t get much benefit from it. We’ll if it make a difference in Malaysia with a longer straight.

So that’s race one, it looks like it’s going to be Vettel benefit year, but McLaren might just be able to keep him honest.

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