I haven’t posted a race review for a while so before I get into Abu-Dhabi and a season review, I’d like to quickly recap the previous 3 races.
Japan – Suzuka
Japan this year was another display of Red Bull dominance with Vettel first and Webber second followed by Alonso grabbing yet another podium for his string of solid results.
The two McLaren’s finished 4th and 5th with Button ahead due to Hamilton’s gearbox issue. Schumacher had a strong finish in 6th and the Sauber drivers were impressive in 7th and 8th, especiall Kobayashi who made some really exciting overtaking moves through the race and as usual had no problem risking everything at any point.
As far as the new teams, Kovalainen all but secured Lotus’ 10th place in the constructor’s championship with his 12th place finish, higher than any other new team driver had managed.
Many drivers also experienced a weekend to forget. Kubica after qualifying strongly among the Red Bulls, had a wheel come off under the safety car at the beginning. That safety car was brought out by multiple incidents. Petrov got a great start but had too much speed and no where to go, taking out himself and Hulkenberg who was minding his own business before the first turn. Rosberg also had a wheel come off late in the race which scuppered a promising result for him.
Massa got squeezed onto the curb at turn 1 which caused him to lose control and barrel into Liuzzi who couldn’t do anything to avoid losing all his wheels in the barrier.
The worst incident appeared to be from Lucas Di Grassi who crashed on his way to the grid, even before the warm up lap around 130 R. Whether it was a driver error or car failure I’m still not sure but it is one of the worst places to make such a catastrophic error if indeed that’s what it was.
Overall, Suzuka was a strong weekend for Red Bull that brought Vettek back into the title hunt and cemented Mark Webber’s position as a serious challenger. Alonso kept himself in there fighting and McLaren seemed to not be making much progress.
Korea – Yeongam
While Japan was a brilliant weekend for Red Bull, Korea was an absolute disaster for the team. The damp track was causing huge visibility problems and the race had to be red flagged to wait for conditions to improve. They improved but not by much. After the second safety car start, Mark Webber made a simple mistake and spun his car. He might have been able to continue had it not been for him backing across the track and taking out Nico Rosberg, who even after taking to the grass to try and avoid the Red Bull still couldn’t avoid him.
It was a massive blow to Webber’s title challenge as well as Rosberg’s race hopes. It was the second race in a row where Nico was robbed of a potential strong result. Vettel was looking at ease out in front, managing the conditions well before he suffered an extraordinary engine failure. You could clearly see nuts and bolts flying out of the back of his car as he came down the long straight with smoke barrelling out of the engine. He was remarkably dignified afterwards despite being robbed of a win and potentially his championship hopes.
Alonso sailed through to inherit yet another win from Vettel like he did in Bahrain at the first race.
Lewis Hamilton finished second to out perform his car while Felipe Massa had a strong third place although he was realistically looking at 5th or 6th at best in the dry without the two Red Bull’s and Rosberg’s retirements. Schumacher had a great 4th place and Liuzzi had an equally fantastic 6th place for Force India.
Brazil – Interlagos
Red Bull were back to winning ways with another 1-2 finish, again with Sebastian out front, which may have been a sign that Webber was going to struggle to stay ahead in the championship. Alonso couldn’t match the pace of Red Bull but finished on the podium again to stay in the fight leading the championship heading to the last race. Red Bull decided against team orders to switch the drivers as they wanted to not put all their eggs in one basket heading to the last race, where anything could happen. At the time I wasn’t sure if this was a smart move as it looked as if they were almost conceding defeat to Ferrari and Alonso, but if you’ve been following recently you would know how much of a smart move it was.
After the top three were the two McLaren’s with Lewis just ahead of Jenson, followed by both Mercedes cars with Rosberg about 8 seconds ahead of Schumacher at the flag. Nico Hulkenberg, despite starting on pole and holding up Alonso for a few laps, could only manage 8th with his car’s speed in the dry, but he said afterwards that he gave it everything and that he was happy with 8th.
Despite the home support, all 4 Brazillian diver’s had races to forget finishing outside the points, especially Rubens and Felipe who both had tyre problems and had to have extra pit stops.