Sunday, 11 May 2014

Ruthless and efficient.

Well, not the most exciting of races but it did liven up at the end. We finally saw a sort of return to form for Vettel, who appears to have copped the gremlin that was plaguing the number two car of Webber last year. How odd!
But really this was just another Merc flag to flag demolition job. They were 50 odd seconds ahead of Ricciardo at the end, even racing each other they were faster than anyone else. But unlike the last couple of years we don’t have to rely on the best of the rest to keep the front boys honest. The Merc pit wall was giving both drivers the chance to win here. There were no “Multi-21” calls or “Nico is faster than you” messages. As the race at the front continued, Lewis was told he needed six seconds to defend his lead and Nico was told he needed to be two seconds behind to give him a chance at the end. No team order here then, this was proper racing.

And it’s a smart move by Mercedes. They have no real challengers; well Redbull might start to eat into the lead ... a bit. But the fight for the drivers title is between these two and the constructors is going to be theirs by the time we get to Hungary. So, where Ferrari and latterly Redbull were one driver focused teams who got a load of bad press for “fixing” races, Mercedes are letting the world know that they are letting their boys “have at it” and can bask in the glory. A good race with uncertain outcome means we all forget that they are miles ahead of the rest.
But they need to check their history books. McLaren played the same game and lost the title to Ferrari in ’07. Hamilton or Alonso should have been Champion that year but infighting and toy throwing left Kimi to pick up the points and claim the title.  I'm not suggesting for a second that Danny boy in the Redbull is going to sneak it, but it’s always worth checking the drivers behind before letting the boy’s trade paint. So far it’s been amicable, but as the mid season wears on, things might start to get edgy between the two sides of the garage. Nico is faster than Lewis, but he’s not winning the races.

Anyway, Redbull appear to be back on track, sort of. And all credit to Vettel here fifteenth to fourth is a top draw drive. And, I think it’ll be ranked as one of his best. He didn’t rely on people getting out of his way or pit strategy, he went out and passed googd solid drivers in comparable cars. It’s almost like he is a four times world champion or something!! Having said “oh he’s just an average driver who’s just doing what the car can do”, I find myself eating a small quantity of humble pie. He got the fastest lap as well, almost half a second faster than Hamilton’s best. Is this the dawning of a Redbull fight back? Given Danny was on the podium again and Vettel drove through the field, I think it might be. They’re ahead of the customer Merc cars, and Ferrari are slowly imploding, so it looks like Redbulls will be the ones keeping Mercedes honest.  

Right, okay then.

Hamilton wins his fourth race in a row and once again he wasn’t the fastest Merc driver but he was the winner. He also took pole with a certain amount of ease, he had to work up to it, but when the hot lap was required he delivered the goods.  It’s not easy, Rosberg is a knats chuff behind him and one snatched brake was all that was between him and victory. He’s not being gifted the wins by the team, he’s having to beat a driver that is faster than him for a lot of the race. And that’s the mark of a true champion. Go out there and pound the opposition into the dust. God I Love him !!!

Another weekend and another second for Rosberg and the question is, is Lewis just being luckier than Nico? And the answer is no, Nico is the one who is making the tiny mistakes that add up to being the first place loser.  A missed apex in qualifying and he’s second, and that’s all it takes. And that’s pressure from Hamilton. Because Lewis keeps saying, “Oh yeah, Nico is so much faster than me and I can’t figure out how he’s doing it!”. Nico is over driving the car to try and beat the plucky Brit, “Why can I not beat my friend, who I am faster than, for sure?” he is thinking and it’s burning away at his soul and he’s tensing up and making mistakes. Suddenly he starts to take risks to beat the other car and his “speed advantage” is lost. Nico needs to get his head fixed, pronto.

Ricciardo is third and let’s hope he gets to keep it this time. He certainly deserves it, although this wasn’t the most exciting race he’ll ever have. He got mugged by Bottas off the line, had a few goes at him, then relied on the pit strategy to sweep past and claim his podium. He’s turning into a proper little racer. Let’s see if the team let him continue with that as Vettel gets his act together.

Vettel was fourth with the drive of the day, and certainly his best performance of 2014 so far. A burned out wiring loom in practice meant very little running time, then a lost gear in qualifying meant a gearbox change and a grid penalty  back to fifteenth of all places. Far too close to Maldonado for anyone’s comfort, along with lots of new bloods down there trying to make a name for themselves. It took him a bit of time to get used to the fact the blue flags weren’t being waved for him anymore. But he was soon into the spirit of the thing with some top draw passes of Perez, Kimi and Alonso.  When a driver tells the team he wants a new car, it’s generally a desperate attempt to prove he’s still got the skills to pay the bills. “Lads, can you dig out that old car from under the dust cover and let’s see if that’s any better” is usually greeted with a resigned shake of the head and a flick though the driver markets. But this time it appears to have worked.  Is it all in his head? Maybe, this chassis wasn’t any more reliable after all, but sometimes just being told it’s a better chassis is all a driver needs.

Bottas, fifth and should really have been on the podium.  But at least he didn't have to sit behind Massa for the whole afternoon this time. But well Williams, whilst still better than McLaren, need to shake themselves up a bit and deliver some more of that pre season testing promise. Redbull are now in front of them and Ferrari isn’t too far behind.

Alonso was sixth and made hard work of it. The pit wall was trying to make things difficult for both drivers as they umm and erred about strategy. The car didn't look any faster than before, so I still don’t see a win for them anytime soon.

Kimi was seventh and can pretty much blame the pit wall team for that. He was leading at the first round of stop and should have gone in ahead of Alonso, but he got told to stay out and so had older tyres at the end of the race. I wonder who Ferrari will fire next?

Holy Mollie it’s Grosjean in a Lotus up next in eighth!!! No I don’t believe it either!

Perez was dull in ninth

And Hulkenberg was even duller in tenth, if such a thing is possible, the track not suiting the car apparently.

And in a titanic battle for last place our new best friend is Ericsson. Who was 20 seconds behind Max. Just imagine being able to make Max look good. How rubbish would you have to be to achieve that? Though given the implosion that Caterham are going through it’s an easier job that you would credit.  Apparently having designed a rubbish dog of a car, they’ve fired the head designer and rustled up a committee to do the development and design work for the rest of the year. Like that’s always worked throughout history.
And there are some ugly rumours going around that certain teams who are not in any way at all you understand, painted green or black and gold. Have yet to pay for their customer Renault engines this year. A scurrilous rumour put about by ill informed individual no doubt attempting to bring discord and chaos to two great teams that have a proven track record of paying up first time and every time the bailiffs arrive at the door.

Anyway it’s all good fun. The next race is in Monaco which will no doubt see the continuation of the Merc demolition. Can Lewis continue to dominate or will Nico get his act together ... hahah not a chance. J

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