Well not the most exciting race of the year again, which I appear to be saying a lot lately.
There's a sort of inevitable feeling to all of this now, like we've been here before, with Michael and those Ferrari years. Remember that feeling, whatever the others do it’s just not going to stop one team from dominating the championship for the foreseeable future ?
Well that’s how I'm starting feel now.
The press gang are of the one thought that Vettel has a nailed on contract with Ferrari for 2014 ... given how Redbull and more importantly Adrian Newey have turned this season around, you have to think that’s a bit of a stupid move. Not as stupid as Hamilton going to Mercedes is. But pretty stupid all the same, if it’s true of course.
For a change it was Webber turn to be on pole, as everyone else played catch up to the Redbulls. The McLarens still looked like they had the same broken suspension they had in Japan bolted onto the back of Hamilton’s car and Ferrari, though fast, weren't fast enough.
The Redbull machine was on song and duly delivered a second front row lockout.
Lewis third up as Jenson failed to make the grade in Q2 and Alonso kept them all honest after almost missing the cut in Q1. Come Sunday it was just a case of who was going to get into turn one first and win the race, Webber from pole or Vettel ?
It turned out that Vettel had the better start line software and won the race by turn one.
Alonso jumped past Hamilton and tried to take the fight to the Redbulls
Grosjean managed to miss everyone and it was the turn of Kobayashi to pile into the back of the pack when he failed to spot the trend in the cars ahead to slow down for turn three. He drove into Jenson’s right rear wheel, then into Nico left side, then back over Jenson's right front wheel and off the circuit. Jenson and Nico stopped after less than 100 years, Kobayashi made it back to the pits for some running repairs and a few more laps, before he too called it a day. If things were chilly at work over his contract before, now they will be positively Antarctic.
The rest of the race was about tyres and how long they would last. Hamilton found his didn't last long enough; Perez tried to impress McLaren by driving forever in one set and failing. It was a bit of a cat and mouse game as teams tried to have the driver with the most life left in their tyres when the chequered flag dropped.
Hamilton who had yet more rear suspension issues this race found himself at the poor man’s end of the top ten fighting the Toro Rosso of Vergne and Ricciardo for eighth, ninth and tenth. He had fresher tyres but couldn't get enough grip with a broken rear roll bar. He fought valiantly but all to no avail. A comedy McLaren "sticky wheel nut" pit stop didn't help. Nor did the astro turf on turn 13 which wasn't stuck down with enough glue and attacked the hapless McLaren driver with 4 laps to go. What had looked like a safe, if disappointing 10th at the end, was made into a desperate drive for the line as Perez almost caught a Lewis who was dragging 20lbs of fuzzy green matting around with him.
As Vettel cruised around, the pits to car radio kept crackling into life to tell the German that his front right was looking less and less likely to make the end of the race. With a gap to Webber of around 10 seconds he wasn't in too much danger, maybe it was a bit of showboating by Redbull to make it look like the others had a chance. Vettel slowed down and didn't get his customary fastest lap. That was left for Webber on his last lap to show that he could have won if he'd wanted too, but he was too cool for that sort of thing.
And that was the race, it rather looks like Vettel and the Redbull just have to turn up to each race and the season is going to be theirs I'm afraid. The McLaren drivers are out of the hunt now and maybe Kimi could, if the Redbulls failed to finish every race, win I suppose. But it’s not going to happen is it ?
Vettel wins then, nice and easy
Webber second, lost it off the line and didn’t really look like beating his team mate any time soon
Alonso finally gets to finish a race, but loses the lead in the championship. I don’t think he’s going to get it back given how well the Redbulls are going now. But this is Alonso and you can never count him out until the final flag of the final race. But Ferrari is going to have to pull something special out of the bag here.
Massa fourth and pretty much confirms his contract for 2013. Again he’s here on merit and shows that the Ferrari isn’t a bad car. In point of fact he was coming back at the Redbulls until he was told stop to crowding the talent and stay behind Alonso. Some things just never change.
Raikkonen fifth, he’s still third in the title hunt but i can’t see him win the races he needs to claim the silverware. Still you have to admire his achievement. Schumacher came back after his time off for good behaviour and was rubbish. Kimi meanwhile has come back from driving into trees and walls on the WRC trail and here he is in third with a good solid points scoring championship year. Not too shabby really.
Hulkenberg was sixth with nothing too exciting, he did the best with what he had and once again beats Di Resta in the “I'm worthy of the Sauber seat next year chaps” game. Bear in mind that the owner of Force India Vijay Mallya is currently on the run after an arrest warrant was issued and his fleet of Kingfisher airliners were grounded. Apparently he’s been paying the bills with rubber cheques, and the owners of Hyderabad international airport are not amused. I don’t think he’s going to turn up to the India Grand prix in two weeks time seeing as he didn’t turn up to court as summon last week. What this means for the team is anyone’s guess, but I bet Di Resta and the Hulk are frantically calling Sauber when they’re not in the car.
Grosjean was seventh and hurrah he didn’t hit anyone. Well done to him, keep up the good work lad.
Vergne has a career best eighth and showed that the Toro Rosso’s are finally up to speed, Mercedes had better watch out ! Vergne came under a bit of pressure from Hamilton towards the end, but kept his head and kept it on the grey stuff.
Ricciardo in the other Toro Rosso was ninth and didn’t quite have the tyres to stop Vergne looking the better bet for a contract continuation next year.
Tenth and the last paying point for Hamilton, who must be counting down the days until his contract with McLaren expires; another broken car, yet another wheel nut not going on properly, another set up issue, pulled a qualifying lap out of the blue and failed again to turn that into a challenge. He was still as feisty as ever, making Kimi work for his points. But he looked like a sitting duck for most of the race and really, really must be wishing it would just all end soon. All in all then, a week to forget for Lewis.
So then, last place driver was Karthikeyan this time a mere two laps behind the leader. Webber got the fastest laps on the last lap of the race, no tyre issues for him then.
We’re off to Indian next, which is another soulless track in the middle of an industrial estate. It didn’t look all the interesting last year as I recall, its a 9.30am kick off so you won’t have to get up early at least.