Sunday, 25 November 2012

And so it ends .. But racing was the winner in the end.

Lewis, Fernando, Kimi and most of all Sebastian are the superstars or 2013, all have shown what it takes to be the best of the best, tenacious, single minded and driven to win.

But what of those other winners this year Maldonado, Rosberg, Button and Webber? They’ve all won this year haven’t they, arguable Nico and Pastor have done it in car that are but pale imitations of the likes of Redbull and McLaren. Are their achievements not greater for beating the class acts with inferior cars?

There is a great debate at the moment about just how good Vettel is, he’s the champion again and the first since Schumacher to win three in a row. Despite the mistake of the “comeback years” everyone points at Schumacher and says he is the modern Fangio. In fact the only other driver to win three in a row is Fangio and no one doubts his claim to greatness, the great by which all shall be measured.

So why should Vettels claim to greatness be doubted so much?

Unlike Fangio and Schumacher he’s up against some of the very best F1 drivers of the day in machinery that, if not on a par with than at least capable of taking the fight to the Redbull. This year the McLaren started as the car to beat out of the box but time and again dropped the ball. Ferrari got lucky and profited from the others mistakes but was there to do that profiting. Vettel had to work for those early season points, he wasn’t up the front and the car wasn’t fast enough to take the fight to the front.

What makes a driver one of the “Greats”? Winning championships? Winning in a car that is plain rubbish? How about over taking lots of cars or qualifying first and staying there for the whole race?

Schumacher spent most of his championship with a team mate to play tail gunner and winning with ease. They were particularly dull races it has to be accepted, with a few notable exceptions where the gear box stuck in one gear or Barrichello didn’t move out of the way until 10 foot from the line. But no one ever claimed he was a little bit rubbish and their granny with her dickey leg was capable of taking that Ferrari to the championship title. As it turns out it might well be that he is ordinary and it was just the car and team orders all along. The Mercedes years cast Schumacher in a very different light, gone is the domination and wining with ease. Now he gets in the way of the midfield drivers and has a nasty habit of crashing into the back of cars.

Is the tag of being “A great driver” just that, media hype? The media needs to hang a label on the drivers to justify their column inches. Mansell was a plucky whinging brummy for instance, who would drive his guts out for every last point. But the year he won his title the car was a technical marvel, light years ahead of its opposition. Electronic gearbox, traction control, start line control, active suspension … the list goes on. That Williams was the first of a new generation and the FIA had to ban 90% of the aids to get the racing back it was so far ahead of the rest of the field.

Yet Mansell is fondly remembered as the chap that wore his heart on his sleeve and tried his damndest to win who was robbed so often. He’s one of the greats.

Senna is always an emotive driver to talk about. The debate rages as to his greatness, I personally, don’t think he was great because he was willing to drive another car off the road to win. An act of aggression that tainted the sport for years afterwards, Schumacher took that baton and happily ran with it for at least three championships. Until the cars went digital Senna didn’t need to be aggressive or dangerous to win because was great. He could take rubbish cars and deliver them to the top of the grid, drive qualifying laps that took your breath away. And when given a front line car he became sublime, until he started to believe his own hype, thought he had a divine right to win and lost the plot.

Prost was perhaps the most intelligent F1 Driver to date. Known as the professor in the day before two way telemetry and a bank of computers in the back of the pits telling the pit wall what the car was doing before the driver knew.  He always knew what was required of him, the best way to win, the easiest way to win. Not for him the balls out do or die move the late lunge up the inside for a single extra point. He didn’t win every race but he won lots of world championships. He was dull, but he was great.
Back further and there are the like of Moss, Hawthorne and Clark. These drivers would drive an F2 car one weekend, win an F1 race the next and be pulling all nighters at Le Mans the week after. In the days when a mistake could leave you with fewer limbs than you started the weekend with ... or worse. They are all great because they risked, really and truly risked their lives to win.
 These days the cream of F1 doesn’t really face a life and death choice. We’ve not seen a fatality at a race since Senna in 94. Grosjean came close to doing Alonso a lot of damage at Spa but the high sided cockpit and survival cell meant he could walk away from an accident that would have killed the driver 20 years ago.

It was a different sort of great in those days and I think that is the problem with comparing Vettel to any diver of any age other than this year, today, here and now.

Here and now today,

Ferdinand did what he had to do, but then Sebastian did all he had to do, and that was the end of the story.

Button won, when Hulkenberg spun into Hamilton who almost gave McLaren the perfect send off after getting pole and fastest lap. Jenson has had a long and difficult year with a lot of head scratching and searching around for some direction. Next year he’ll have Perez under his wing and will need to lead the team. I get the feeling McLaren are at a turning point here, Perez needs to deliver on the hype, Jenson needs to be a true leader and the team needs to put a bad year behind them. To a large extent Lewis was a talisman for them, the man to take the fight to the rest of the pit lane. Now he’s gone they need Jenson or Perez to step up and give them something to believe in.

When Vettel got punted to the back of the grid after four corners Alonso was Champion. But it just wasn’t enough today. He has driven his heart out this year and won a lot of praise from those that disliked him and Ferrari. He’s driven with passion and humility and didn’t go and punch Grosjean when he destroyed his championship. For me he’s been the driver of the year because he’s just got on with it, in a car that wasn’t the class of the field by a long shot. They got the wind tunnel numbers wrong and never really dialled out its inherent oversteer, their “coanda” exhaust was always a bit of compromise and yet they just got their heads down and almost pinched the title at the end. Alonso was lucky to be in the hunt and unlucky not to win the title

Massa. Now sit down here, but I think Massa is the most improved driver of the year. No, really he is, he always goes well in Brazil, but this race was as good as he’s ever driven. He was told to go out there and support Alonso and he did just that. A couple of brilliant overtaking moves, giving his place up to Alonso, despite it being futile and then not throwing a hissy fit on the podium at the end.  He’s had a rough ride these last few years and I think he can look back as the second half of this season and feel like it was a job well done.

Webber almost took his team mate out at the restart and is obviously not a team player like Massa.

Hulkenberg was fifth after leading on merit. When the rain came back for the second time, a millimetre of throttle too far and he was in second place behind Hamilton. He’d driven a great race up to that point staying on slicks as the rain started and the rest of the pack went to inters. Next year he’s off to Sauber and given how well he drove today I think it might be a step sideways at best. But he also might, look back at today and realise this was a high point of his career.

Vettel needed to be in the points if Alonso was on the podium and that’s what he did bringing it home in sixth. He looked more nervous than usual this weekend, considering he’s been in this position twice before. The carnage at the start was due in large measure to him braking early for turn four and everyone getting out of his way. After that, well he drove a great race and really delivered.  Unlike Abu Dhabi where he collected backmarkers and needed safety cars, this time he took the thing by the scruff of the neck and just dragged its backside back to the points. A real top draw, not crashing into other cars just get to the end of the race, drive. I know, I'm just as amazed as you.

Schumacher, seventh, Will he be missed? No. Should he have come back? No. Was it the car all along? Yes. Is he one of the great? Yes.

Vergne eight, great drive, when bigger names forgot the golden rule that the dry line is the best line.

Kobayashi ninth and probably his last race in F1, the thinking is he’s off to Toyota and the WEC next year now. He certainly doesn’t have the money for another go and Sauber have already said goodbye. The most successful Japanese driver to date, but like all of the others he just wasn’t consistent enough.

Finally Kimi was tenth and never really in the fight for much more. Still I think he can look back at this year and say it was a job well done. A win and the next best driver after the Redbull pair isn’t something to be sniffed at. With Coca-colas “burn” brand and money all over the car next year this could be the next “Redbull team”. Kimi might well have fallen on his feet here.

Hamilton got the fastest lap on the driest laps

And Karthikeyan was this week’s last place driver. (Yes I know Di Resta is the last place classified driver, but he was parked in the wall with four tires pointing in different directions at the end).  

Thank you all for playing this year. I can’t do this if I don’t have players. Well I could still write this rubbish but even fewer people would read it. I hope you’ve enjoyed the game and that I’ve added a little something to your enjoyment of the racing this year. I think you should care who comes last each race and hope that Maldonado beats Rosberg for ninth place.  
Each Monday after the race someone always comes up to me and says, “I had the top 5 there until Grosjean crashed into Webber and suddenly I had no points at all!!” there is always a conversation about whether Karthikeyan is worse than De La Rosa for last place. Who will Maldonado or Grosjean hit this time and if they’re worth a punt for the bottom half of the top ten?
At the start of every season I pray that the racing will be good and I’ll have something to talk about, after 3 races this year I wished the racing wasn’t so close and there wasn’t so much to talk about
So thank you all once again for sticking with this and playing, sorry about the appalling spelling, terrible grammar and rampant Hamilton man love.

See you all again next year 

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Right it’s all come down to one race. After around 3800 miles of racing over eight months we finally arrive in Brazil with two drivers trying to become world champions for the third time.

Who do you think will win and who would you like to win ?

The young gun Vettel looking to become the youngest ever consecutive triple world champion but that question of weather he is one of the greatest still persist. It’s not been an easy ride for him this year with a car that didn’t want to qualify at the start of the season and an engine that likes to burn out its alternator. He’s had to battle through the pack and scrap it out with the midfield rather than win from the front. The first half of the season was one of picking up results when the others failed to finish, the second half the Redbull seemed to find a new lease of life and hit the front with a vengeance. Hamilton stopped him last week in Austin, will he do the same again this weekend ?

Vettel doesn’t need to win to retain the title, just finishing will pretty much do it for him. But he’s not good at sitting back and waiting for the race to come to him, It’s all or nothing for the German and that might be his downfall.

Alonso and Ferrari have had a very rocky ride this year. With a car that has looked like it wants to kill its driver at times but saved his life in spa when Grosjean tried to take his head off. From the highest height of that win in front of his adoring public in Valencia to the Spa where he was lucky to walk away from a car destroyed by a flying Lotus. This has been a classic year for Fernando, he’s fought tooth and nail and never given up, Ferrari have admitted that they got the wind tunnel numbers wrong. Even going so far as to pack up the wind tunnel team and transport them to Germany and the ex-Toyota facility to start over again.

By rights he shouldn’t even have a shot at the title with a car that is the third best car on the grid, but it says something for the Spaniards luck and tenacity that he’s there 13 points behind Vettel and you know he’ll thrash that Ferrari to within an inch of its life to get the result he needs.

The maths are pretty simple for Alonso, beat Vettel by more than 13 points, so win, and hope Vettel isn’t second. If he’s behind Vettel its all over, he has to be in front of the Redbull and have at least two cars between them to stand a chance. If the Redbull alternator fails then he has to be third or better to take the title

But lets not forget the McLarens of Button and more importantly Hamilton. McLaren have lost this championship, pure and simple. They had the best car and one of the best drivers in Lewis. He is absolutely at the top of his game and should have walked the title hunt this year. But comedy pit stops, poor reliability and just plain taking their eyes off the prize have left them with nothing. A few race wins and a fight for second place in the constructors chase.

The fact that Hamilton is happy to go to Mercedes, who have failed spectacularly to deliver despite their budget, tells you all you need to know about how Lewis feels about McLaren.

Hamilton beat Vettel in Austin as Alonso struggled to dial the nervous Ferrari into the track. Brazil is far more of a know quantity so the Ferrari should be right at the sharp end this time. Throw in the predicted rain storm and we have the making of a great end of season.

Please update your predictions for the last time this year before midnight and good luck,

Monday, 19 November 2012

Hamilton on Fire, Alonso just about keeps the dream alive

Put it away lad, you've not won the cup yet!

Well what a race that was, finally someone has the cracking idea of taking the all the memorable bits from around the world and sticking them on one track.  Take Beckets from Silverstone, The horse shoe turn seven eight and nine from Turkey, the uphill turn two from the A1 ring in Austria and you end up with a superb track.

Just how superb it’ll be with soft sticky tires remains to be seen. But with hard solid tires the cars looked like they were driving on ice at times. The exit of turn 19 was especially difficult for everyone with pretty much everyone taking a trip across the run off during the weekend. The only driver to look like he had his car dialled in was Vettel who was a good half second faster than everyone during the practice sessions. He looked a shoe in for pole but had to work at it in the end to stay ahead of Hamilton, who just got better and better as the track came to him.

A driver not looking like he had any idea what the car was going to do from one corner to the next was Alonso. He was all over the show as the grip appeared to desert his car. He trashed it within an inch of its life but still only made it to ninth when the chequered flag dropped. To keep the championship alive he needed to be as close to Vettel as possible, he wasn’t going to get much done from back there. Meanwhile Massa qualified in sixth ahead of Alonso and looked to have a much better handle on the car.
Grosjean had to change his gearbox, so got a five place penalty pushing him back to tenth and Alonso to eighth and the dirty side of the grid.  Normally the start grid of a track will have a ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ side to it, the racing line will have plenty of rubber on it and all the dust will be swept off to the other side. But this track has seen no action before this weekend, is still green and dusty off line and the tires were taking four laps to get proper grippy. So all the car on the even numbered dirty side at the start were predicted to be two places further back by the time they got up the hill to turn one.  

Any team worth its FIA entrance fee has a Zen master who has read the rules cover to cover and divined every single word and every single nuance of the rules and they’re exact meaning and the subtext to that meaning and the legal and ethical meaning to that meaning. Then they read them again.
 Ferrari spotted that if Massa in sixth was to have a gearbox ‘issue’ he would be penalised five places back to eleventh which would promote Alonso up to seventh and they’d both be on the clean side of the grid .
They wrung their hands for about two nano seconds over the ethical nature of this course of action, then broke the seal on Massas gearbox and called the FIA over to have a look. Redbull climbed on its high horse about other teams having to use ‘cynical tactics’ to keep their championship alive, how Horner kept a straight face I’ll never know.

So once all the hoo harr was over with we got a race, and what a race it was. The prediction that the even numbered grid slots would lose two places off the line was a little wide of the make.  Hamilton lost second place to Webber as Vettel took off into the distance and Alonso had a cracking start and was up to forth by the end of the first lap.
What happened next were 20 laps of wheel to wheel action as cars struggled to find any grip and actual real driver skill made the difference. Hamilton caught and passed Webber after four laps and was soon up behind Vettel making life uncomfortable for the German. Lap after lap the Redbull and McLaren traded fastest laps. Hamilton would nail the long fast sweeping corners of sector one but couldn’t quite close the gap to under a second for the DRS to kick in. Down the long fast back straight they were even stevens with McLaren just closing up as the very end of the straight. Vettel’s Redbull just had phenomenal drive out of the hairpins of sector three enough to pull put an advantage and stay ahead each lap.

Webbers race lasted until lap 16 before that pesky Renault alternator packed in again and left the grumpy Australian stranded out on the circuit. Thankfully this is FIA racing so we didn’t have to sit around for eight laps behind a safety car as the American marshals got their act together. Webber was cleared with the minimum of fuss as the race got on around it.

The two leaders came in for tires, Hamilton was stuck behind Kimi for three laps before the lotus driver made his stop and the fight for first could be rejoined.  Hamilton crept up to the back of the Redbull then fell back as Vettel pulled another fastest lap out of the bag, then he got a message from the team that the tires and fuel were going to be okay and he could turn the McLaren all the way up to 11 and take the fight to Vettel. For 18 laps he was tantalisingly close to the Redbull but never quite close enough for the DRS to give him that slingshot into the lead. Then on lap 42, our favourite last place driver Karthikeyan who was minding his onw business in last place suddenly found he had two much faster cars behind him in the middle of the fast sweeping turns of sector one. He desperately tried to get out of the way but with nowhere to go he held Vettel up fo r that crucial half second that Hamilton needed. Onto the back straight Lewis was now close enough to pick up the tow from Vettel and DRS did the rest. Vettel went to the inside to defend the corner but Lewis was already past before they got there.
Vettel wasn’t quite beaten yet and stayed with the McLaren as the two drivers continued to trade fastest lap. Alonso up to third with a good driver was 30 seconds down the road so wasn’t going to trouble the leaders. Vettel perhaps mindful of the championship didn’t try too hard to beat Hamilton and was only 0.6 seconds behind as they crossed the line.
Hurrah, it’s always good to say a race won with a pass for the lead.

So with that second and Alonso back in second the championship will be decided in Brazil next weekend. It’s always good for the championship to finish with a race that matters, Can Alonso steal this from under Vettel nose ? i don’t think so, but it’s going to be fun to watch.

Hamilton first and he thoroughly deserves it. I'm not too sure if he’s going to miss McLaren more than they miss him, but their partnership has been one of the more successful stories for the Woking based team. I think he’s now ahead of Prost in the all time list of McLaren winners. He just got faster and faster all weekend in Austin, he needed Vettel to be held up for just that half second to take the win, but you make your own luck in this game.  He never stopped trying and it was wonderful to see the happy bouncy Lewis of old when he got out of the car at the end of the race.  After the heartbreak in last few races.

Vettel second and pretty much has both hands on the trophy now. He’ll need to not finish and Alonso will have to be in the top three for the German to fail to become the youngest back to back triple world champion. Given than Renault doesn’t appear to have fixed that pesky alternator issue and if Alonso’s jammy luck makes a sudden return, that’s not beyond the bounds of reason. In reality Vettel just has to finish in the top ten and not be too far behind Alonso. But the Redbull is on song right now and Vettel seems to be able to stroke it to the podium. He’ll want to go for the pole, win and fastest lap just to prove a point. And that might just be his downfall.

Alonso, despite Massa taking one for the team he was still almost 40 seconds down the road at the end. Can he steal this at the end, I just can’t see it. It’s going to need that Renault alternator to go bang mid race, for the Spaniard to stand any chance. The Redbull is just faster than the Ferrari despite Alonso driving the nuts off the scarlet pony and that been the story of the season.

Massa was fourth with a pretty damn good drive in the end. You could call the gearbox penalty as unsporting by Ferrari, i think is a bit cynical at worst, but they didn’t have anything else on the table and ultimately it worked for them. Massa has a contract for next year and he’s back to the form that took him to within one point of the title. Whilst the likes of Webber moaned about having to follow team orders, Massa gave a rueful smile and said “Alonso was lucky to have a team mate like him”. He out qualified Alonso with ease and if he’d not been bumped at back to Eleventh i think he might very well have made the podium.

Button couldn’t find the grip in qualifying and started way back in 12 but like Lewis the track came to him and he was able drag the car back up the grid to fifth at the end. He’ll be the day facto team leader next year and drives like this will help him cement that. Perez can’t qualify either so the two of them will be having fun driving through the field next year.

Kimi was sixth and with a car that spent as much time going sideways as forward.  It looked a handful for most of the weekend and must have been a bit of a come down after the win last time out.

Grosjean too spent a lot of time trying to catch the car as it tried to spin out of the corners. He was his usual banzi self with several heart in the mouth moves on his way to seventh. It looks like he’ll keep his seat for next year, due mainly to the sponsorship rather than his racing skill though.

Hulkenberg confirms his best Force India driver tag with another fine top ten finish. Di Resta is most certainly yesterday’s man as the Hulk brings it home in eight.

Maldonado continues his rehabilitation with a ninth place result, passing Senna with a handful of laps to go just to prove there’s more to him that a dirty great shed full of state money backing him.

And the still contractless in 2013 Senna rounds out the top ten.

Karthikeyan was dean last as usual and that is Austin GP review.

Only one race left this year and thats next week.  Good luck and good night.  

Thursday, 15 November 2012

America home of the car, lets see what Redbull can do.

Hello race fans, just a quick one this time.

We’re on the final leg in America this weekend and the final race of a very, very long season in Brazil next weekend.

The Circuit of the Americas is a brand spanking, never before seen, or used, state of the art, circuit in the middle of nowhere in a dusty corner of Texas. I have no idea what it’ll be like, though I do expect the stands to be full. If nothing else the Americans do like to see the Europeans turn up now and again to show them how an open wheel championship should be run.  

The feeling is this is going to be another Redbull track I'm afraid. As long as they don’t *ahem* “have a fuel problem” this time. But all the big boys have a fully spec’d up sims of the track layout and the lower fourth teams have been playing it on F1 2012 for a couple of weeks at least. So there won’t be any surprises for the drivers. Friday might see a fair bit of action as they explore the limits of the tracks and confirm their setting, as the track beds in the top teams will be able to dial the cars in whilst the cheap end of the pit might struggle.

A race in America is always special because F1 should be in America, the home of the automobile. With a five year contract let’s hope they can build a bit of a following again. The last time the circus was in the states they left with their tails between their legs as two thirds of the field refused to race. This time it should be a bit more professional.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

HRT up for sale.

How do you make a pocket full of change and fire countless engineers ..... start with a bunch of Bankers and give them an F1 team to play with.

Once again the owners of HRT have found out that no one gives a shit out their crappy cars or their crappy team. They have two crappy drivers and soon they'll have a big expensive crappy factory in Spain that is worth more as a car park than an *ahem* state of the art Formula one team factory.

 No one ever bought an F1 team to make money and turn a profit after a couple of years. So why did a bunch of bankers think it was a good idea to buy an unsuccessful F! team in Germany and transport it to Spain where there is no infrastructure for that sort of thing. And they do it in the middle of the worst economic crisis in Spanish history.

Who will buy the team ... no one , it's shit.

Not even Bernie has his fingers in this one.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Kimi proves just how wrong I can be

Only Two races left now lads. 

Well that just goes to show you what I know about F1 racing. I didn't think the Lotus had the oomph to take a win this year and then Kimi pops up and does just that. Alonso kept him honest, but it wasn't enough to stop Vettel driving himself into the championship today.

A technical issue with the fuel tank had left the German stuck on the circuit at the end of qualifying; usually this means some idiot didn't put enough fuel in the car, but this time the Renault engineers had told Vettel to stop immediately on track due to some vague “it’s all gone a bit wrong” reason.

Now you’re not supposed to stop on the track after qualifying and the FIA take a very dim view of teams pulling the old “ we've got a problem and in no way is it related to there being too little fuel in the tank Guv’ner” excuse. So as Hamilton and McLaren celebrated an easy pole, the Redbull lads were in the steward’s office holding their hands up and making excuses. They managed to convince the FIA that “yes there was a problem” that had “nothing to do with fuel”. Except when they came to take the mandatory one litre of fuel from the car to make sure it wasn't illegal, they got 850ml. Oh dear.

“Well that’s not a problem Mr FIA , if we could just take this panel off here and open this special pipe here, I'm sure we can get the last 150ml of fuel you require” ..... Except the rule clearly state that no panels or part of the car can be removed to get the fuel.

The FIA had a quick huddle, agreed that the fuel was probably in the car. Then threw the book at them and banned Vettel to the back of the grid. Redbull said it didn't really know what the problem was anyway so took the car out of parc ferme to work on it and left Vettel to start from the pit lane on Sunday. A drive form the back of the grid on a circuit that's very difficult to overtake on, at last we would see what Vettel is really made of.

What should have been an easy win for Hamilton who looked to be the happy and bouncy Lewis of old. Turned into a nightmare after the glory of an easy pole and perfect start, all he had to do was avoid the backmarkers and cruise to the line. He got away perfectly when the lights went out, had a bit of a moment when he expected the tires to have a bit more grip in them at the end of the long straight.

Vettel however was making life hard for himself as he battled, yes battled the Williams of Senna. Like all world champions who find themselves at the back of the grid, he forgot that the back markers are allowed to try and defend their position and do not have blue flags waving them through as normal. As Vettel finally made it past the Williams, Senna cut back across the front of the Redbull and took off the side of the front wing. Nothing major, but enough to lose some down force in the corners.

He didn't lose as much as Rosberg though who was following the HRT of Karthikeyan when its engine suddenly went bank and seized the engine solid. Rosberg had about 2 seconds to realise tyhe car in front wasn’t going to move out of his way and launched him Mercedes over the left hand side of the HRT into the crash safe wall. Lucky both drivers walked away from a nasty accident, yet another testament to the legacy of Professor Sid Watkins.

As the safety car tooled round, Redbull told Vettel that his front wing would be fine and nothing else was going to fall off. To celebrate this Vettel narrowly missed driving into the back of Ricciardo’s car who keeping his brake temperature up. Vettel demolished the DRS sign on the side of the track, swore loudly on the radio and wiped out the rest of his front wing. Now Redbull had to roll the dice and brought the car in early for a new nose and to put it on the soft tires a good 15 laps before it was due. This put him once again at the back of the field. But with nice sticky tires and a nice clean nose.

Game on.

When the safety car went in Lewis was off the leach and went off and setting fastest lap after fastest lap the car and driver were in perfect harmony when suddenly the car cut out. The plucky lad was left rolling down the road once again in a McLaren that appeared to be dead on the track. No light, no engine and no power. He climbed out of the car and watched Kimi inherit his lead and more than likely the win.

Vettel by now was up to second as the rest of the pack went in to change their tires. Speculation was rife as Ferrari, Lotus and McLaren tried to guess if and when Vettel would stop for another set of boots. Redbull said he was going all the way, Pirelli said “he’ll have to stop within sight of the line”. Alonso made it to third after passing Maldonado who was having a great race. Followed a few laps later by Button who was not having such a great race by his standards.

Back down the order Di Resta, Grosjean, Perez and Webber were duking it out for minor points, Di Resta undercut Perez into the chicane at the back of the circuit. Perez cut back and pushed Di Resta onto the grass at the next corner ran wide off the circuit and cut back into the apex of the next corner, just in time to find Grosjean already there and got t-boned off the track, Webber arrived at the apex to find Grosjean wondering around on the racing line and collected the hapless Frenchman. This brought out another yet another safety car so the marshals could clean up the mess, giving Alonso a run at Kimi and Vettel a chance to make it to the podium.

But Kimi is too smart to be caught like that, as the safety car peeled off into the the pits Kimi took off and by the time the DRS was turned back on he had more than enough time in hand to keep Alonso behind him. Button however wasn't so lucky and with just four laps to go Vettel passed him for the final spot on the podium and to retain the lead in the drivers championship.

If you want to see the definition of “a lucky driver” watch Vettel’s Abu Dhabi race again. Luck like that is what wins the big silver cup.

Kimi then, inherited the lead and didn't need telling how to win the race, it’s nice to see him back up there. He’s still not the most verbose of drivers, but it’s good to see a quality driver doing what he does best, driving fast and winning. And it pretty much nails him onto a third place in the championship. Much better you will note, than Schumacher who had yet another weekend to forget. Maybe a couple of years off driving in the scenery worked out for the Finnish lad.

Alonso, must be wondering what he did to annoy Lady Luck so much. When Vettel was demoted off the grid he must have though all his Christmases had come at once! The lead in the championship was there to be taken back all he had to do was get on the podium, and he drove the nuts off the car to achieve that goal. Then Hamilton dropped out and he was there, but Vettel still managed to get back to the podium and with a few more laps would have robbed Alonso of his second. At the end of the race, things haven't changed and he’s still behind Vettel in the race for the chase for the cup for the win. Time is fast running out with just two races left this year.

Vettel, from pit to podium, you just can’t beat that kind of jammy Luck!

Button fourth and looking forward to the days when he no longer has to explain to Martin and the team why he can’t be the leading driver with the same equipment. Say what you like about Lewis but you always know he’s going to thrash the life out of the car whatever he’s been given, whilst Jenson will always deliver you what the car is capable of giving you, nothing more but maybe less.

Maldonado was fifth and did a pretty good job. He made Webber work to get past him and survived being swiped by the grumpy Australian. Other than that he kept his nose clean and finally delivered a finish for the team. There is still a nagging doubt over his ability to focus on the job and not try and kill the other drivers, but he kept his emotions in check this time and made the faster boys work for their paychecks no leery moves or sudden swipes might be the sign he’s learnt to finish before proving a point.

Kobayashi sixth, didn't do too much and brought the car home for a hat full of points unlike his team mate who once again tried to show his new team what a real asset they’ve bought for next year. Koby still isn’t signed on for next year with Sauber and I get the feeling he’s not in line for any of the top teams anytime soon. He is fast but inconsistent and occasionally loses the plot. Drives like this keep his hat in the ring for next year though.

Massa seventh with another solid run to the line.

Senna looks to be on the way out now even with an eighth place finish. Maldonado is pretty safe in the other Williams seat and as Bottas is believed to have, if not a very signed contract to 2013, then a very nearly signed contract. Senna’s only hope now is Koby gets caught with in a room full of hooker snorting Columbia’s finest export of their pert pink flesh. No one else appears to want him and being likable is not enough in the piranha pool of F1 drivers.

Talking of nice but unwanted, Di Resta finishes in ninth. Some have said Hulkenbergs move to Sauber is a sideways move at best and a career suicide at worst. I think he’s going to get a seat with a conservative team that delivers innovative cars out of the box and picks up points with a no frills attitude to racing. And the Sauber team does enjoy a certain amount of respect from the big boys for producing cars and drivers that punch above their weight; Peter Sauber is a straight talking team owner that has been in the game for a long time. He’s not here for the money or, God forbid, the face time. So this move gives Nico the chance to be seen in a respected team not screwing it up and look like a top team candidate. Whilst Di Resta isn’t.

Ricciardo was tenth with a brand new contract with Toro Rosso for next year.

This week it was De La Rosa turn to be almost a lap behind the winner. Okay the two safety cars helped but hey, the HRT was on the same lap as the winner. I think that deserves a round of applause.

Right, it America and the brand spanking new Circuit of America next, Alonso will be praying Lady Luck gets drunk on bourbon and wanders back into the Ferrari garage.