|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.
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.