Okay, we’re all back on track now.
Bahrain then this weekend. Another straight fight between Lewis, Vettel and the increasingly petulant Nico. You know you can always tell the good from the merely right place, right time drivers. The good ones say things like, “Well I didn’t really get the car going the way I wanted it, but we learnt stuff today so, we’ll do better next time”. The not so good say, “ Sir, sir … he was backing me up and going too slow and I couldn’t over take because the tyres sir, yes the tyres were round and black sir, I didn’t want to wear them out sir and he made me go too slow sir”.
Everyone who heard or read those words from Nico must have reached pretty much the same conclusion as me … “Well why didn’t you overtake Lewis then, if he was going too slow ?”
And I can’t really think of a reason as to why he didn’t, can you? Someone pointed out to me that Lewis spent last year tucked up behind Nico waiting for that mistake, the split second when he could make the move and take the win. He’d rag the tyres till they bled, push the car till the brakes cried enough. But he’d get the points and Nico would stand on the lower step, bottom lip trembling slightly as the champagne hit him in the face.
Lewis didn’t complain that Nico was too slow! No, he berated himself for not qualifying better and allowing Nico to dominate on Saturday. Then he’d win and make it look easy, Nico became increasingly desperate with the last lap crash in qualifying in Monaco and the elbows out crash at Spa. The crowds responded to this petulance by casting him as the panto villain and booing him on the podium. It wasn’t until Abu Dhabi, when Nico asked to be allowed to keep going till the end in his sick car, that the crowds forgave him for the tantrums and unsporting behaviour.
Nico is no fool, he is a pretty good driver, but he doesn’t seem to have that thing, that edge, that ability to win races when he doesn’t have the best hand of cards to play. Where Lewis or Alonso will just keep going, dragging whatever car they have under them to victory, Nico like Vettel needs a winning car before he can win. The two of them can get the best out of the car, but nothing more.
And Vettel has a very good car, Kimi is showing us that. For too long Kimi has been bored and dismissive during interviews. Mono syllabic answers, hiding behind big dark sunglasses and batting inane questions away with a lazy flap on his hand. Last year you could be forgiving for wondering if he actually turned up for the races he was so under the radar. Now though, robbed of a result in Australia, a drive back through the field to fourth in Malaysia and what I assume was another easy fourth in China and Kimi has his mojo back. Not enough to beat Vettel yet, but then he isn’t as lucky as the German.
So then last of the season opener fly away races, Bahrain was fantastic last year. It was Merc letting rip and showing just how fast they were. Nico and Lewis put on a show as Lewis stamped his authority all over Nico and showed him what was really required to win a championship. Going on past form, I can’t see there being much difference this year. Vettel … well Bahrain isn’t normally a high tyre wear circuit, so I think third again here unless Lewis does a better job of backing up Nico this time ;)
Williams next again .. Massa, what the Sally Hill has happened to Felipe Baby then? He’s got his act together and is showing Bottas the way home. Not the story I was expecting!
Then you get to choose from Nasr in a resurgent Sauber, Danny in a woefully poor Redbull and Grosjean in an unlucky Lotus. Although the championship points don’t really reflect it, the one to take a punt on would be Verstappen, who is raising plenty of eyebrows with feisty and controlled drives. I still think he’s a bit young, he doesn’t look like he even shaves at all, but he’s go the talent to get noticed, now he needs the talent to bring it home consistently.
Worth a punt too would be Perez, who’s looking pretty handy in a the Force India. I think the Hulk is looking at his exit strategy to Porsche and Le Mans now, so he’s taken his eye off the F1 ball for now. Perez has been almost exciting at times this year, jus the car letting him down a bit.
Further back and McLaren are sort of moving forward. But every time they tell us they’ll turn the engine up and start winning, I look at the car and think, “That car looks a bit of a handful”.
I don’t think turning the wick up is going to deal with the snap over steer or random handling quirks, she’s a bit of a handful and mistake. I think if they can get in to the bottom of the top ten before Italy in September, they’ll have done well.
And then we have Manor Marussia and they are still there, still plugging away. They’ve lasted longer than I expected and go on them for that. I ‘m not sure who’s going to be driving for them this weekend., I thought Merhi was only on a 3 race contract. Let’s see if he came up with anymore cash shall we.
Right that’s your lot.
You can update your predictions here if you so desire.