Sunday, 22 May 2011

Bugger me. It's a Spain race with passing.

Right, it’s just a quick one this week as I knackered after selling loads of junk to unsuspecting punters at the Farnborough car boot sale. Which meant I missed the race and had to watch it later so now I’m tired .... and there is no wine in the house which is a cardinal sin in my book.

Okay, so Spain then. Plenty of over taking this time round and a much better race for it too. I do think we’re kind of losing the qualifying excitement though. As drivers opt to save tires rather than going out and making a fist of it, anyone not in a Redbull doesn’t feel the need to get in the way of the Vettel-Webber fight for pole so it’s all a bit of an anti climax once those two have done their Q3 run.
After qualifying everyone though the Redbulls were going to just disappear off into the distance with their second a lap advantage. Webber had managed to get his act together long enough this time out and piped Vettel to the top spot, but Vettel kept saying he had a problem with his KERS unit and it was no biggy that he wasn’t on pole. The grumpy Australian didn’t look too convinced, though he didn’t look all that happy either. Looking far happier was Alonso who hadn’t ended up in 5th as usual, but was in 4th for his home GP. With a 6 year contract in his back pocket he felt things had turned a corner and the car was going to give him the chance to fight for the win this time out.

The race on Sunday however was all about Lewis and Vettel.
Off the line and Alonso got a flier and Webber got blitzed by the Ferrari and Vettel hardy har har. Hamilton slotted in behind and those four took off into the distance. Button who had started in 4th ended up in 10th after a horrendous start.
This year it’s all been about the teams calling the right strategy not just as the race unfolds but all weekend. Alonso had used too many tires getting his 4th on Saturday, so as the race went on he didn’t have enough nice new soft tires to stay with the Redbulls. He had to pit earlier and couldn’t make the tires last long enough to give him a shorter run with the hard tires at the end. He spent too long racing the afternoon away with Webber who after his bad start kept his eyes on Alonso and not on what Vettel was up to.
Button after the bad start looked after his tires and the team guided him through the chaos with a three stop strategy that worked for him. They realised that Alonso didn’t have the tires for the fight so they reacted to what he did and went after the third spot he should have got. When Alonso ran out of grip at the end Button was able to leapfrog the Ferrari and Webber who missed the bigger picture.
Hamilton just spanked the car all day and drove the bollocks of it like the driving God he is. Oh yes indeed.

So then Vettels 4th win and fifth podium of the year. He’s starting to look unstoppable. He kept Hamilton behind him for 10 laps at the end when the likes of Webber or Alonso would have taken them both off. He did all that with a KERS system that worked some laps and not others. So you have to give him that credit. Worryingly for Redbull though the McLaren more than had the legs of the Redbull in the tight twisty stuff, so they might well struggle at places like Canada and Valencia.

Another 2nd for Hamilton. That’s it lad stop the German getting too smug with that bloody finger of his. And he got the fastest lap, result.

Button does another super smooth job for 3rd, making the three stopper work this time out. I think the smooth strategy is risky one to go for, it only needs a lap or two stuck behind a Renault or a Merc for it instance and it all ends in tears. That and I like my drivers to go for it a bit more. Still, he’s picking up the points and keeping the score board ticking over.

Webber, once again shows he chokes when he’s on the front row. 4th is all he gets after not making the most of a pole and letting Alonso take the lead on the first lap. He seemed to be on the back foot after that and spent too long messing around trying to get past the Ferrari. Vettel didn’t look too fussed about not getting pole on Saturday and you fell right into his trap. That sound Mark, is the sound of your world championship chance exiting on platform 5 bound for HRTville you’d better run for it.

Alonso should have got more than 5th, but he used too many soft tires on Saturday and couldn’t make two sets of hard tires last long enough at the end. Maybe he’ll go better in Monaco next week. The Ferrari is there or there abouts, it’s certainly where that Ferrari should be in 5th so they can’t feel too hard done by.

A solid 6th for Schumacher who has a much better weekend after his nightmare in Turkey last time out. He didn’t bother to contest Q3 deciding to save tires and accept a 10th place spot. It paid dividends in the end when he got a flier off the line at the start of the race taking Nico into the bargain. He made his Merc very wide all afternoon and gets a creditable 6th for his troubles. Is this the return of the old master .. I sincerely hope not.

Rosberg is a disappointing 7th. Must try harder next time lad.

Heidfeld has a barnstormer from the very back of the grid to 8th spot. He turned his engine into moving BBQ on Saturday morning practice so missed qualifying entirely as they rebuild the car. So with a full complement of tires and a few timely moves he kept his head down and drove back though the field to get some valuable points. In days gone by the Renault could be counted on as one of those cars that could be developed to stay in the game. These days and Mercedes have passed them now, while Ferrari, Redbull and McLaren are distant memories. Okay he’s 8th from the back of the grid but Petrov started in 6th and ended up 11th as the Saubers went past him. Things are looking grim for the Renault.

Perez makes it to 9th, and gets the “was he in the race” prize. I’m still to be convinced he’s the second coming, but others are talking about him taking Massa’s seat .... I have as yet, no idea why.

Finally Kobayashi finishes 10th after getting a puncture and pitting on the first lap. Another good race from him and it also confirms that the Sauber is a tasty little car with more than one upset in it.

That’s that then. It’s a fast turnaround for Monaco now, more on that when I get round to writing it.

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