It’s another Vettel benefit race as he cruises from the pole to the win. This time it was the Ferrari of Alonso that took the fight to the Redbull as the McLarens got bogged down fighting each other, whilst the Mercedes of Rosberg and Schumacher failed to deliver their qualifying potential.
The weekend had started with misty skies and a very wet track on Friday, most of the big boys didn’t bother to trouble the timing beam. They figured that driving around a wet track when the race was forecast to be bone dry was a waste of time and could prove costly. Just how costly that could be was demonstrated by Vettel who did go out and after a wobbly lap or two told the team “Hey chaps .. Watch this !!!“ Before promptly stuffing it into the wall and writing off the brand new updates the team had just finished bolting onto his car.
Everyone else looked on and though “ho ho, we might be in with a shout here” Vettels car was too badly damaged to take part in the second practice session and everyone really thought they really did had a chance then. Both of the Merc’s looked fast, but there were some glum faces at McLaren as things didn’t seem to be going their way.
Come Saturday and qualifying and the Redbull mechanics had rebuilt Vettels car, so well was it rebuilt in fact, that it just cruised past everyone else and took a pretty easy pole. The only surprise was that Rosberg was still up the sharp end of the grid in third. Maybe Schumacher had been right and the Merc has got better with three weeks rest. The McLaren’s were behind the two Redbulls as Webber had got his act together this race and was only just behind Vettel rather than the back of the grid. Hamilton saved some pride for Woking by being 4th ahead of Alonso who was smiling for a change and Button was sixth. Schumacher confirmed the potential of the Merc by getting between the Renaults of Petrov and Heidfeld in eight spot. Whilst Massa showed he was almost as good as he used to be in tenth. Could Rosberg push Vettel on Sunday? Were Ferrari back in the hunt at last ?
So on Sunday, Rosberg hoped he’d be able to jump Vettel when the lights went out and control the race from the front. What happened was Vettel engaged first gear and shot off into the distance followed by Webber and Alonso. And that was the race for the win over with. No one got close to Vettel for the rest of the day and the only time the camera focused on the young German was at the end of the race to see him waving his bloody finger around again. This is starting to get annoying now.
This in now three wins in four races for Vettel and he just looks like he can turn it on when he needs it. Webber and Alonso were nowhere near him all day and he didn’t make the mistake of thinking he could get away with a 3 stop race this time around. When Webber and Alonso stopped with 11 laps to go for some soft tires, Vettel came in too and covered that. Can he over take anyone .... well there is no one for him to overtake at the moment, the car is reliable, KERS or no KERS balls out faster than anyone else. Ho hum, Despite the finger waving I’m kind or warming to him, so far he hasn’t arsed around and given it all the “big I am” mouth of the like of Schumacher in his prime. I’m not going to say he’s humble or anything, but he always thanks the team and says it’s them, if not more than him. As an engineer, I like that.
Anyway where was I .. Oh yeah Vettel won again.
Webber starts second and finished second. A late pit stop for the soft rubber, gives him the fastest lap and allowed him to mug Alonso in the process. Again it demonstrates that the Redbull is the class of the field even in the grumpy Australians hands. He wasn’t close to taking the fight to Vettel but he did do what his contract tells him to do.
Alonso had a happy weekend for a change and gets Ferraris first podium of the season in 3rd. About bloody time! The new wings did their job and Alonso driving the wheels of the car did the rest. Massa who loves this track couldn’t make it into the top 10 at the end, okay he had a poor pit stop with a clutch that wouldn’t engage so the wheels were spinning as the mechanics tried to give him new tires. But the point is, Massa wasn’t fighting for a podium here and that must be the bench mark of the car, it’s Alonso that made the difference and the reason you can never count him out. With his home race in Spain next he’ll want to keep the ball rolling and fight for the win.
Hamilton also has bad stop with a sticky wheel nut holding him up on his third stop and was a long way back in 4th. He got stuck behind Button at the start of the race and cooked his tires in 11 laps trying to get past. Once he’d done that he was on the back foot for the rest of the race. The sticky wheel nut robbed us of a three way fight for second spot, but in reality the McLaren wasn’t on the pace here and was lucky the Mercs were rubbish when loaded with fuel. The new aero bits can’t come soon enough if Ferrari has got their act together.
Rosberg should have got more out of this but 5th was all he gets. The car was fast when there was no fuel in it, but off the line and it looked like it was missing a gear or two. Once the flappy wings got switched on after 2 laps, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Schumacher who ended up in 12th was no better and Brawn confirmed after the race that they need to work some on the race set up. With the tires the way they are, just being in the top ten look’s to be good enough, they don’t need to be trying to get a car to pole. Rosberg’s got it in him, he just need the car to catch up.
Button gets 6th after trying to do the race on three stops. Even the famed ‘smoothest driver on the track’ couldn’t get this to work for him and he was passed by Hamilton and Rosberg at the end of the race. If he wants a tilt at the title this year he needs to get his finger out and stop relying on being smooth. Grow a pair Jenson and start ragging it lad.
Heidfeld turned up once to wave a fist at Petrov and spent the rest of the time not being as interesting as anyone else on his way to 7th. Slowly slowly catchy monkey and all that guff, I think we’ll be seeing the Renaults back here from now on as the other teams get their development programs in gear for the European season. Renault has lots of work to do.
Petrov in 8th demonstrated to Schumacher that the German should call it a day and retire with some dignity left intact. Petrov drove the nuts of the Renault and the front wing of the Mercedes and should have got more for his efforts. That he didn’t is a testament of the car not him. I like the Russian, he’s fun.
9th for Buemi, nope, I have no idea either and he gets the “did he take part in the race?”, award this time out.
Finally and unfortunately we didn’t see it, but Kobayashi come from the back of the grid, after the engine died on his first qualifying lap, to take a very well deserved 10th. As a comparison, Perez, who was 14th had the fastest lap for a long time and would have been in the top 10 too if he hadn’t lost a front wing at the start of the race. The Sauber is turning out to be a fast little car and Koby is an exciting driver with plenty of potential, imagine what he could do in say a Mercedes for instance.. (Perez is still only a legend in his own lunch time as far as I’m concerned).
The race for the chance to be crowned the most rubbish driver goes to Liuzzi in the HRT, who didn’t really have much competition this week. Every time we saw him, he was either off line being past or off the circuit being past. He was five laps behind Vettel and 2 laps behind his equally rubbish team mate Karthikeyan who has an impossible long name that’s difficult to spell even stone cold sober. This week’s amusing HRT quote comes from Liuzzi who says “Overall this has been a positive weekend up until qualifying” that’s the spirit lad.
So there you have it. The first 3 rounds didn’t lie and Redbull have a championship winning car, the driver to do and lady luck belting out Deutschland Uber alles from the top of the hospitality bus as embarrassed staff try to talk her down and get the bottle of champagne out of her hands.
Can anyone stop them .. who knows? She’s a game old lass and she’s having a grand old time.