Well Formula One is back! And what a start we got to the season! Kimi Raikkonen winning the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. Going into the Grand Prix, concerns surrounding McLaren and Williams around their race cars are ever growing and both teams are looking to see if their little improvements gained from last weekend will help them this weekend.
In terms of the Grand Prix, the Malaysian Grand Prix is a real challenge for the drivers and the teams. The Malaysian weather can change instantly from being hot and humid to a monsoon full of rain within a couple of minutes. Pit stop strategies and tyre wear will be crucial for the drivers and the teams to get right. As tyres will be punished throughout this weekend and due to the abrasive surface of the track, looking after the tyres will be the drivers and the team’s top priorities this weekend.
This Grand Prix will be one full of questions of who can go longer on their tyres, who can save the most tyres for the race on Sunday, will it be hot or will it be raining this weekend? Alongside these questions, questions of who has maintained their competitiveness from Australia, can McLaren and Williams’s small improvements on their cars help them this weekend, who will be competitive from the off, who has the quickest car and who will win this race on Sunday?
The week 2 of the Formula One season begins now….
Strap yourselves in. The new season begins now…
Practices 1, 2 and 3
The main headline from the Practice sessions is that Red Bull look like the team to beat this weekend (even though Kimi Raikkonen topped the timesheets in Practice 2) as weather conditions test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.
Practice 1 saw Mark Webber top the timesheets with a time of 1.34.935211 followed closely by Raikkonen with a time of 1.37.003, Vettel in third with a time of 1.37.104, Alonso in fourth with a time of 1.37.104 and Rosberg in fifth with a time of 1.37.588. Adrian Sutil impressed the paddock again by topping the timesheets in 6th place with a time of 1.37.769. The McLarens of Button and Perez could only manage 11th and 13th places.
Within Practice 1, there was a lot of spinning and technical issues throughout the session. Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez had spins on the circuit by carrying too much speed into the corners. Meanwhile, Adrian Sutil despite taking 6th place, his front wing was moving due to an incident of the front wing. Also Kimi Raikkonen experienced some gearbox issues on one of his flying laps. And Mark Webber was called by the FIA to the weighbridge in order to check the safety of the KERS system on the car when receiving a message on the dashboard that it was unsafe. Webber’s KERS system was fine and was allowed to carry on to Practice 2.
Practice 2 saw Kimi Raikkonen top the timesheets again with a time of 1.36.569 followed by Vettel with a gap of 0.019 seconds, Massa in third with a gap of 0.092 seconds, Alonso in fourth with a gap of 0.416 seconds and Webber in fifith with a gap of 0.457 seconds. Adrian Sutil again managed to achieve a top 10 finish with 10th place with a gap of 1.219 seconds behind Raikkonen and also Paul Di Resta in 8th place with a gap of 1.002 seconds behind Raikkonen, showing that Force India may have the pace to get some good championship points this weekend. The McLarens of Perez and Button could only manage 11th and 12th places indicating that McLaren do not have the pace needed to have a strong weekend.
Before the start of Practice 2, it was announced that Mercedes CEO Nick Fry will be stepping down from his role after the Grand Prix to a consultant role within the team. Toto Wolff will be stepping in Fry’s role as CEO. I wish Nick a lot of best wishes for his future. Within Practice 2, rain at the track enters the frame and Intermediate and wet weather tyres are being used for the first time this weekend. Throughout the session, Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean experience running off the track due to getting used to the tricky conditions on track.
Practice 3 saw Sebastian Vettel top the timesheet with a time of 1.36.435 followed by Hamilton with a gap of 0.133 seconds, Sutil in third with a gap of 0.153 seconds, Webber fourth with a gap of 0.178 seconds and Raikkonen in a fifth with a gap of 0.371 seconds. Jenson Button also impressed the paddock with 7th place with a gap of 0.387 seconds behind Vettel. Again, the surprise of the session is Paul Di Resta managing to grab 6th place with a gap of 0.372 seconds behind Vettel showing that he does have good pace within the Force India car. The biggest surprises of the session was that Perez and Grosjean did not make the top 10 (Perez managed 12th place and Grosjean 14th place).
However, within Practice 3, Sebastian Vettel had problems with his tyres and spun off when his tyres gave up with high levels of graining. Also Mark Webber, Nico Hulkenberg and Jean-Eric Vergne experienced problems with overheating on their cars (Webber had brake and tyres problems, Hulkenberg had problems with overheating on the car and Vergne had an overheating exhaust).
You would be stupid not to bet against Vettel to gain pole position again this weekend. As he is the master of qualifying at the moment and the momentum is with him from topping Practice 3 and being in the top 6 in two sessions. Alonso and Massa also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top seven at the moment. Button and Perez at the moment seem to be struggling (even though Button had a great last practice session). It seems from looking at their performances that the pace is not available within the car and both drivers seem to be struggling with the ride, pace and the tyres and I will admit that they will struggle to even make Qualifying 2 or even the points in the race and it will take a lot of skill and talent to do that in a car that is not capable, unless a bit of unexpected rain happens. However, I think that Force India and Lotus have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix again like last weekend and could qualify well here. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…
Before qualifying, weather reports state that a 50% chance of rain during the session. Also, Practice 1 on Friday saw only an hour of running from the drivers in an hour and 30 minute session allocated to the sport. There have been discussions to see if this can be improved from the fans who pay good money to see the best racing drivers in the world. Force India’s Team Principal Bob Fernley believes that the First Practice could be used ‘… as a young driver’s programme which helped both Paul (Di Resta) and Nico (Hulkenberg) into the sport.’
I agree with Bob. We have seen young drivers such as Klien, Algersuari and Buemi enter the sport on Young Drivers Programmes such as Red Bull and leave the sport due to their ‘poor’ performances. I am not sticking up for them but if the guys haven’t had much time to get to grips with the sport through testing (well lack of testing) like they did in the old days, the pressure to learn and to perform on a regular and consistent basis is constant. And I believe that if Practice 1 is used for young drivers and test drivers from each of the teams to learn their craft within the sport, chances of acquiring a new or future star for the sport is greater than what it is now. However, discussions about this matter are still being made.
It looks like Red Bull are the team to beat heading into the session. And it is looking like Lotus, Ferrari or even Mercedes may look the teams set to challenge the Red Bull for pole position today. But Force India may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions. And it is looking likely that it will be a challenge for the Williams drivers of Bottas and Maldonado to clear Q1 and also the McLaren drivers of Button and Perez to clear Q2 as both teams do not have the pace within their cars to challenge the top teams this weekend. Let the battle for Pole Position begin…
The main talking point within Q1 was the block that Perez in his McLaren did towards Nico Hulkenberg in his Sauber on his flying lap. From looking at the footage, I believe that Perez did not intentionally try to block Hulkenberg, but was trying to find the best possible line and moment to get out of Nico’s way. No further action was taken towards Perez for this matter by the FIA.
In Q1, Sutil tops the timesheet with a time of 1.36.809, Raikkonen is second with a gap of 0.150 seconds, Rosberg is third with a gap of 0.430 seconds, Alonso is fourth with a gap of 0.5 seconds and Grosjean is fifth with a gap of 0.554 seconds. Vettel could only manage 14th place and Massa in his Ferrari could only manage 12th place. And a surprise for Button who finished the session in 6th place and also Di Resta who was 7th place. At the end of Q1, we lose Vergne, Bottas, Bianchi, Pic, Chilton and Van Der Garde.
However, during the session, the conditions got worse on the track with the rain falling onto the track and these changing conditions caught out the Force India of Paul Di Resta in Turns 7 and 8. This was so unlucky for Di Resta as he looked genuinely quick and looked like he was going to qualify a decent position this weekend ready for the race tomorrow.
In Q2, Rosberg tops the timesheets with a time of 1.36.190, Webber was second with a time of 1.36.449, Hamilton was third with a time of 1.36.517, Raikkonen was fourth with a time of 1.36.640 and Sutil was the surprise of the session with 5th place with a time of 1.36.874. Alonso could only manage 7th place behind his team mate Massa in 6th place. Vettel could only gain 9th place. Button and Perez set a brilliant times to gain him 8th and 10th places At the end of Q2, we lose Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Riccardo, Gutierrez, Di Resta and Maldonado. The battle for pole position is on…
At the start of Q3, we see a queue of drivers within the pit lane wanting to get stuck into their qualifying programme and to qualify as high as they possibly can. All drivers seem to be on the Intermediate tyres.
In Q3, Vettel again tops the timesheet and claims his 27th pole position with a time of 1.49.674, Massa was second fastest out-qualifying Alonso again, scoring his first front row since Bahrain 2010 with a time of 1.50.587, Alonso was third fastest with a gap of 1.053 seconds, Hamilton was fourth fastest with a gap of 2.025 seconds, Webber was fifth fastest with a gap of 2.570 seconds, Rosberg was sixth fastest with a gap of 2.845 seconds, Raikkonen was seventh fastest with a gap of 3.296 seconds, Button was eighth fastest with a gap of 3.501 seconds, Sutil was nineth fastest with a gap of 3.765 seconds and Perez was tenth fastest with a gap of 4.462 seconds.
It would seem that Red Bull genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend which I am absolutely not thrilled about. However, both drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this. You cannot discount Massa, Hamilton or Alonso to be challenging also for the race win in order to keep their seasons off to a flying start. Raikkonen could also be the dark horse to take the win away from Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes and gain a points advantage on his rivals for the championship.
Sutil and Button could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for Force India and McLaren before heading to the next race in China. Will it rain tomorrow? I don’t know, I think it might. Who will win the Grand Prix tomorrow? I really don’t know (hoping for a Button win!). Who will lead the championship after this race? Will it be Vettel, Webber, Massa, Hamilton or Alonso? I don’t know. The Grand Prix has been set up nicely, just like last weekend. Let’s see what happens…
Prior to the race, Kimi Raikkonen has been demoted to 10th place on the grid due to impeding Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes on his flying lap during Q3. Also, there were rumours circulating around the grid that Bernie believes that if Webber had not resigned with the team after Silverstone, Lewis Hamilton may have gone to Red Bull Racing for this season. When spoke to by Sky Sports F1, Christian Horner denied these rumours by stating that ‘This is a unclear situation and that the partnership of Webber and Vettel has won three championships.’ But what a thought for F1 fans….
Before the race, rain hit the track again. Due to the tricky conditions, all drivers will start on Intermediate tyres. However, Turn 3 seems to be extremely wet and catches out Toro Rosso’s Daniel Riccardo (who suffered a damaged diffuser), Esteban Guiterrez, Valterri Bottas, Max Chilton and Pastor Maldonado. Red Bull start the race with a front row lockout of the grid. The F1 world is watching and waiting to see if the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix will live up to expectations and who will be the winner? Here we go…
All 22 drivers are lined up on their grid positions, five red lights and its GO!!!!!!!! Vettel gets a very good start and defends Felipe Massa into the first corner.
Webber and Button (Button finds himself in fifth) both have had decent starts off the line, with both drivers fighting for position. Alonso and Massa seem to have had bad starts and all drivers are battling each other towards Turn 1 (especially Rosberg and Hamilton). Alonso takes 2nd place and Webber takes 3rd away from Massa. Massa now finds himself battling with Rosberg for position. Alonso while trying to fight for the lead in Turn 2 with Vettel touches the back of the Red Bull and damaged his front wing, which leaves the door for Webber to pass him for 2nd place, which Alonso manages to defend himself against. Meanwhile, Hulkenberg who is in 9th place finds himself under attack by Raikkonen who tries to make a pass on Hulkenberg but cannot get past.
Lap 2 sees Vettel build a 3.1 gap to Webber after Webber manages to get past Alonso. Meanwhile, Alonso’s damaged front wing gives up and has no choice but to retire from the race, even though the team should have called Alonso in at the end of the first lap to change the front wing. There is a battle for 8th place between Perez and Massa taking place. The next few laps sees Button and Rosberg and Raikkonen and Grosjean battling for track position.
Lap 5, a 3.6 gap has formed between Vettel and Webber. Perez and Hulkenberg are battling on track. Hulkenberg manages a pass on Perez for 7th place, with Perez trying to come back to Hulkenberg and cannot do so. Raikkonen goes off the road and this allows his team mate Grosjean to pass him for position. It looks like the drivers could be set for dry tyres. The race leader makes a pitstop for slick tyres with a stop of 2.4 seconds and sees him come out in 5th place, handing the lead to Webber.
Lap 6 sees a number of drivers making pitstops to change tyres. The battle for 9th place hots up Perez, Sutil and Grosjean manage to pass Vettel. This then sees Vettel once his tyres have come up to temperature passing the drivers back again. The first driver to make a pitstop was Massa, Sutil was next followed by Grosjean, Di Resta and Raikkonen. Meanwhile on track, the battle for 11th position is hotting up with Grosjean, Vergne and Guitierrez. Lap 7, sees Mark Webber pit for a fresh set of tyres with a quick pitstop of 2.4 seconds and also Lewis Hamilton pitting for a new tyres onto his Mercedes and ending up at the McLaren garage to do so.
Lap 8, Rosberg is leading the Grand Prix from Webber. Meanwhile a collusion between Pic and Vergne has occurred in the pitlane and both drivers need to pit for new front wings. The battle for 9th place between Riccardo, Grosjean and Raikkonen hots up. Rosberg pits for new tyres and rejoins the track in 4th place. The next lap, Webber regains the lead from Rosberg and has 2.5 second gap from Vettel. Grosjean manages to gain 9th place on track and leaving Raikkonen and Riccardo battling for the last championship point on track.
Lap 11 sees Webber lead by 3.1 seconds. It seems that at this stage of the race, both the Mercedes drivers are running their own races and Hamilton especially seems to be catching the leaders. Perez is also engaged in a fight with Grosjean for 9th place and Grosjean passes him. This then leads Perez and Raikkonen battling for position. The Force India drivers are battling each other on track for position and Di Resta manages to make his move on Sutil stick. Lap 13 sees Hamilton 5 seconds off the lead of the Grand Prix and the incident between Pic and Vergne is going to be investigated after the race.
Lap 15, Webber leads by 2.2 seconds. Raikkonen and Perez battle is still ongoing on the track. The previous lap sees Maldonado go off the track and pit for a new front wing. The next lap sees Raikkonen pass Perez for 9th place with help from the DRS system from the Lotus. Sutil meanwhile loses position to Guiterrez due to Sutil going off the track.
On Lap 18, Webber leads by 2.2 seconds. Red Bull now at this stage of the race are pulling away from the Mercedes. The battle for 11th place between Riccardo and Di Resta is ongoing. The next lap sees Di Resta pass Riccardo for 11th place. Massa and Grosjean are in a battle for track position. Mark Webber pits for another set of tyres with a stop of 2.3 seconds and rejoins the race in 5th place and hands the lead to Vettel.
On Lap 19, Vettel leads Hamilton by 3.9 seconds. The battle for 7th place is still ongoing with Massa and Grosjean. Massa, Grosjean and Di Resta pit for new tyres. Di Resta has a problem with the left front tyre and is stationary in the pitlane for some time. The next lap is crucial for Vettel to pass Webber if he wants to win today’s race. Raikkonen pits for new tyres in 4.2 seconds and rejoins the race in 11th place. Hamilton pits for new tyres in 3.3 seconds and rejoins the race in 4th place. And also Jenson Button pits for new tyres also.
Lap 22, Vettel has built a 6.4 gap lead to Rosberg. Massa passes Hulkenberg for 8th place and the battle for seventh place between Sutil, Massa, Grosjean and Hulkenberg is on. Both Vettel and Rosberg pit for fresh tyres on this lap. Also, Sutil pits on this lap and finds that the spindle on the left front tyre keeps him stationary in his pitbox for some time.
Lap 25 sees Webber leading the Grand Prix again with a lead of 1.2 seconds. Paul Di Resta the previous lap retired his Force India from the race and it’s a great shame as Paul showed he had the pace for some points today. Mercedes again seem to be challenging both the Red Bull drivers on lap times and race pace. The next lap sees the gap between Webber and Vettel go to 0.5 seconds and Vettel sees to be eying up Webber for a pass. Meanwhile, Hamilton is also catching Vettel at great speed.
Lap 28, Webber leads by 0.6 seconds. Vettel on team radio asks the team to ‘get him of the way (Webber) as he is too slow’. Webber responds by extending his gap to Vettel in the middle of the lap. Lap 29 sees Adrian Sutil retiring his Force India. This is the first time since the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix that Force India have suffered a double retirement.
Lap 30 sees a 1.8 second lead on Vettel. Perez and Raikkonen are again battling for position. Down the field, Chilton and Pic are battling for 17th place. Hamilton pits for new tyres in 3.6 seconds and rejoins the race in 5th place. Lap 31, Vettel and Rosberg are battling for second place and Webber pits for new tyres in 2.3 seconds and rejoins the race in 3rd.
Lap 32 sees Vettel leading Button by 13.3 seconds and pits for new tyres at the end of the lap in 2.7 second and rejoins the race in 4th place behind Hamilton and Button leads the race temporarily. The next lap sees Vettel and Rosberg battling for fourth place.
Lap 35 sees Button lead Webber by 0.2 seconds. Webber passes Jenson for position, Jenson tries to fight back but Webber has the racing line for the corner and takes the lead. Raikkonen and Hulkenberg are battling for position but Hulkenberg is managing to defend his position well. Hamilton then passes Button for position before Button pits for new tyres. Button’s right front does not seem to be on the car right and has to stop in the pitlane to correct it.
On Lap 38, Webber leads Hamilton by 3.5 seconds. A battle for 2nd between Hamilton (even though we think that Lewis is saving fuel), Vettel and Rosberg is ongoing on track. Hulkenberg manages again to keep Raikkonen behind him for 8th place. The next lap sees Vettel successfully pass Hamilton for second place.
Lap 41, Webber leads the race by 4.6 seconds. The two Mercedes drivers are battling for the last podium place. Raikkonen now manages to pass Hulkenberg for 5th place. Hamilton pits at the end of this lap for new tyres with a 3 second stop and rejoins in 4th place. The next lap sees both Vettel and Rosberg pit for new tyres, rejoining in 2nd (Vettel) and 4th (Rosberg). Lap 43 sees Webber pit for fresh rubber.
Lap 44 sees Webber regain the lead of the Grand Prix. Vettel now tries to pass Webber for the lead and Webber defends well. And the battle continues. The next lap Vettel tries another move on Webber and cannot get past. Hamilton and Rosberg are still battling for the last podium position.
Lap 46 is a turning point within the Grand Prix. After a few laps, Vettel manages to get past Webber to lead the Grand Prix. Over on the team radio, Horner has told Sebastian that it was ‘silly and not be silly’. But with a move that shocked fans everywhere, Vettel does so (more on this in my conclusion). The next lap sees Mark put a finger up to Vettel from inside the car (and rightly so!) to show his displeasure. Pastor Maldonado also retires his Williams on Lap 47 due to a spin off the track.
Lap 49 sees Raikkonen finally able to pass Perez on track. Vettel has built up a 3.2 gap towards Webber. A battle for 6th place between Raikkonen, Massa and Perez is going on and Massa passes Raikkonen to claim sixth. Lap 50 sees the battle for third place hot up between Hamilton and Rosberg. Rosberg asks Ross Brawn over the radio for permission to pass Lewis and has been denied permission.
Lap 53 sees Vettel leading by 3.9 seconds. Daniel Riccardo retires his Toro Rosso out of the race. Lap 54 sees Massa gain fifth. The battle with the Mercedes drivers is still ongoing on team radio with Ross Brawn publically saying ‘…he wants to bring home both cars home…’
Lap 55 sees Jenson Button retire his McLaren. Sergio Perez also pits for new tyres with a stop of 2.8 seconds and rejoins the race in 9th place. And the last lap of the race is underway and Sebastian Vettel crosses the line to claim his first victory of the season. Webber claims second place with a gap of 4.2 seconds behind Vettel, Hamilton claims third place with a gap of 12.1 seconds behind Vettel, Rosberg claims fourth with a gap of 12.6 seconds behind Vettel, Massa is fifth with a gap of 25.6 seconds behind Vettel, Grosjean is sixth with a gap of 35.5 seconds behind Vettel, Raikkonen is seventh with a gap of 48.4 seconds behind Vettel, Hulkenberg is eighth with a gap of 53 seconds behind Vettel, Perez manages to gain much needed points for McLaren with nineth with a gap of 1.12.357 seconds behind Vettel and Vergne gains the last point with tenth with a gap of 1.27.124 seconds behind Vettel.
Vettel leads the Driver’s Championship with 40 points, Raikkonen is second with 31 points, Webber is third with 26 points, Hamilton is fourth with 25 points, Massa is fifth with 22 points, Alonso is sixth with 18 points, Rosberg is seventh with 12 points, Grosjean is eighth with 9 points, Sutil is ninth with 6 points, Hulkenberg is tenth with 4, Di Resta is eleventh with 4 points, Perez is twelfth with 2 points, Button is thirteenth with 2 points and Vergne is last with 1 point.
Red Bull Racing lead the Constructors Championship with 66 points, Lotus is second with 40 points, Ferrari is third with 40 points, Mercedes is fourth with 37 points, Force India is fifth with 10, Sauber is sixth with 4, McLaren is seventh with 4 points and Toro Rosso is eighth with 1 point.
What a race! It didn’t disappoint. The Grand Prix tested the drivers throughout the race with the threat of rain and also tyre degradation.
I was also disappointed that Jenson did not have the pace to challenge today. But I am happy that Sergio managed to score two points for the team that should encourage the team further to look into why Jenson and also Sergio are struggling with pace and grip with this year’s car. The team this weekend I believe have made small steps into looking at solutions to help and cure this problem before the championships, race wins, podiums and even point finishes are no longer within their reach. As I said last weekend, I know McLaren will bounce back to the performance they and their fans crave and when that happens, it will make it all the more special.
Despite the many dramas that Hulkenberg endured in the race, his driving today was superb. Under great pressure from Raikkonen, Hulkenberg showed that despite leaving Force India, he can still deliver and score some good points for the team. I am also slightly gutted that Force India failed to score any points this weekend. Force India have shown this weekend that their performance in Australia was no fluke and they have a car that is able to be competitive and fight for good points in the race. And I think they could be the dark horse of the midfield teams this team and could surprise us all throughout the season.
Lotus this weekend may not have gained another victory this weekend but they have scored some brilliant points from their two drivers this weekend that will help their fight in the Constructors Championship. I was a bit surprised that Lotus, especially Raikkonen was not able to challenge for the podium this weekend, but consistency and points scoring keeps you in the hunt for the title, as Alonso proved last season.
Massa again has had a solid weekend. First showing top 10 form in the Practice sessions and then yet again out-qualifying Alonso with a brilliant lap to gain his first front row since Bahrain 2010 and the first driver to out-qualify Alonso at this race track since 2006. I think Massa is driving solidly this year. He seems to have come back refreshed and a totally different character that is showing that he can hold his own in a team that is very much run by Alonso. Who knows where Alonso would have been if he didn’t damage his front wing?
Mercedes surprised me this weekend. They have been competitive all weekend long. They have shown that their car is a significant improvement from last year and is competitive throughout the course of the weekend and the race. And for Lewis to achieve 3rd place in his second race for his new team is an achievement, but did he deserve it? We all heard Nico asking permission to pass Lewis as Nico at that point in the race was faster than Lewis. But he was denied the chance. Do I think Mercedes made the right decision? No. But I do understand why they did it and for them to gain these points at the misfortune at McLaren who will be back to their fighting ways is needed if they are to take the fight to try and improve their position in the Constructor’s championship.
My attention comes to Red Bull. The victory was Webber’s, without a question of a doubt. Webber has been on the pace all weekend, drove a beautiful race and should have tasted the champagne. However, team-orders again have played a factor and been misused by Vettel to secure victory. And as we know, teams discuss situations like this before the race with their drivers and discuss the possible outcomes. And I don’t believe Vettel ‘didn’t know anything about it’. Vettel is aware. And he knew exactly what he was doing. I really do believe and I agree with Johnny Herbert that if you are a three time world champion, you need to become selfish and will take any available opportunity to fight for another championship.
That is all well and good. But not in the manner that Vettel did so. Vettel has apologised to the team and Webber publically. Vettel should have respected the team’s wishes, so why didn’t he? Because he wants his championship, on his terms, his way without looking at the consequences.
This now opens up a can of worms for the Red Bull team and how to manage this situation within the team and the media. Webber and Vettel have a history (Turkey in 2010 is the best example I can give), the management have publically announced that they support and back Vettel more than Webber (which Webber hinted at with using the word ‘protection’ when talking to the media). And obviously this would affect Webber. Because I sense now that why would Webber ever trust Vettel again even if he accepts his apology or not. Because Mark is right, Vettel does have the ‘protection’ of the team and its management. There have been many times where Mark has respected the team’s wishes and kept behind him. Vettel says he respects Mark. I don’t think he does. To call Webber slow is disrespectful in my opinion. When Webber is on form, he is unbeatable and one of the fastest on the grid. And I think Vettel is scared by Webber when he is on form.
Vettel is used to winning, his way, his terms. Vettel obviously like any race driver does not like to lose, but to win in the manner that he did today, he should be ashamed of himself and deserves every little bit of criticism that comes his way. I have absolutely lost the little respect I have for Vettel this weekend and I really do hope that Webber or any other driver takes the driver’s title away from him this year and then we can see if all the hype surrounding him is true and see also if he can regain the title that he and every driver on the field craves. Will this happen? I don’t know.
Aside from this matter, Red Bull have shown this weekend that they are still the team to beat (I did think that they would walk away and dominate the race just like last weekend) and have shown competitive and consistent pace throughout the weekend that will be concerning the other teams. Overall, this race was a brilliant, but for all the wrong reasons. The favourite, Sebastian Vettel, who many expected to win, won but in a manner that is distasteful and unsporting to show up his team-mate who is a well liked and respected driver in the paddock and with the fans.
Ferrari, Alonso and Massa have started the season well and managed to put together a car that looks able to challenge for wins and podiums straight from the off (apart from Alonso’s retirement today). Many fans expected McLaren to have made an improvement this weekend and they did. But they are still lacking in pace and grip and are looking into trying to cure this problem as quick as possible. Hamilton and Rosberg in their Mercedes have shown that he could be a force to be reckoned with throughout the season and that their car does seem to be competitive.
Force India have also shown that they are a car that is competitive and has a good baseline for both Sutil and Di Resta to regularly challenge the midfield for strong points finishes throughout the season. Lotus may not have challenged the front runners this weekend, but they have took some strong points this weekend. The biggest surprise this weekend for me was the 13th place of Marussia’s Jules Bianchi. He has really impressed me so far. In the two races we have, Bianchi has been able to extract performance from the car, out-qualifying Max Chilton and able to out-perform the Caterham team for track position. I really do believe that Bianchi is a driver to watch out for this season, he is looking to be a driver that has a special talent.
All that is left to say about this race is that the real winner of the Grand Prix is without question Mark Webber. Webber has seems to have built on his strength from last year, got on with this own programme this weekend and that gamble should been rewarded with a cracking drive and win from him. The way he has talked to the media about the incident has been exemplary, I feel so sorry for Mark and my respect for him as gone sky-ward. I really believe that Mark is a fair racing driver and mostly a guy well liked by drivers, (apart from Vettel I believe) the paddock and the fans, wears his heart on his sleeve and will tell it exactly like it is. And I would like Mark to never forget that. Justice may not been in your favour mate, but you will get the last laugh sooner, rather than later.
Events of the race will be continuing onto China. My next post will be the latest F1 News of this week, until next Sunday!