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Miscellaneous

F1: Australia, Malaysia and China Thoughts

Here’s what I think quickly about each of the first 3 flyaway races of the season in F1.

Austalia

  • The DRS wasn’t very successful in the first race, not long enough to make it work as desired but it did add some overtaking at least, but not enough.
  • Red Bull far ahead of everyone else, good if you’re a fan of them but bad if you like close competition, something we rarely see in F1.
  • Great podium by Petrov shows Renault will be right up there challenging for podiums, although probably only for the beginning of the season until Ferrari and Mercedes get their acts together.
  • McLaren make massive improvement from testing.
  • Lotus not as compeitive as expected, stuck in a division all their own. Too far behind established teams yet far ahead of Virgin / HRT.
  • HRT embarrassingly don’t qualify for opening race, Virgin very slow.
Malaysia
  • Vettel and Red Bull domination in qualifying and race continues.
  • Great podium for Heidfeld, fantastic starts for both Renaults.
  • Webber strong recovery, Red Bull still strong without KERS.
  • Williams absolutely useless, once again fail to live up to expectations, neither car finishes.
  • Lotus much stronger, able to stick with Toro Rosso.
  • Jenson gets strong second place, while Hamilton and Alonso tangle and both lose out in final standings.
  • Di Resta strong performance for first earned point, second race beating Sutil in qualifying and race. (let him past in Australia due to team order from what I understand)
  • DRS more successful, tyres making very exciting racing
China
  • Strategy decision costs all 2 stoppers (vettel, massa, alonso). Vettel lost out to Hamilton, could not defend against better grip / traction.
  • Strong result for McLaren who didn’t have the fastest car
  • Lotus beat Perez and Maldonado, great result. Partly due to Williams’ struggles and Perez’s mistakes and penalty but still very strong pace.
  • Virgin fortunate to not be further embarrassed by HRT moving ahead of them in pace.
  • Massa beats Alonso again, looks to be getting back to 2008 form.
  • Paul Di Resta unlucky not to score after personal best 8th qualifying position.
I think it’s been a good start to the season and each race has been better than the last. I’m glad we don’t have to worry about Vettel winning every race now and I hope Renault can keep up the pace along with the top runners. I think Turkey will be another great race and I’m looking forward to it.
The interesting thing about the China race is that it was won on strategy and not by the fastest car. Of course, strategy can only take you so far, and that’s why unfortunately we didn’t see Nico Rosberg or a Renault win today, but who knows what can happen in future races, this is F1 where practically anything can happen.
Categories
Miscellaneous

F1: Abu Dhabi and 2010 Year in Review

Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi
Image via Wikipedia

The race in Abu Dhabi wasn’t a classic. I don’t think it was even as good as last year’s debut at the Yas Marina Circuit. The track and facilities are incredible, but as far as the racing goes, the main two points that we’ll remember this race for are Vettel‘s brilliantly controlled drive and Ferrari’s poor strategy which cost Alonso any chance of winning the championship by putting him in the pack behind Petrov for the remainder of the race.

Mark Webber decided to pit early as the tyres on his car weren’t holding up well. Once he pitted, Ferrari thought that it would be wise to pit Alonso in order to cover Mark. They did successfully cover him, with Fernando emerging from the pits just in front of Webber, but by that time they were both effectively out of the running.

There was one other memorable part of the race. The incident at the beginning involving Schumacher and Liuzzi was a scary one. Michael span on his own and Liuzzi had no where to go but up the front of the Mercedes like a ramp. It was incredibly lucky that the car missed his head by a narrow margin because that is probably the only part of an F1 car that doesn’t give full protection to the driver.

As far as Sebastian goes, he drove a controlled race to cruise to victory in the championship. He had to be on his guard for Kobayashi at the stops but he managed to get back out in the lead and it was plain sailing from there.

Had it not been for all of the failures he had endured when he was leading races throughout the season, he would have won this championship far easier. He is incredibly deserving of the title and in the end I think that clearly the best driver and the best car won in 2010.

Mark Webber has a lot to be proud of in 2010. He was dominant in some parts of the season only to let it slip from Korea onwards. Alonso has settled in perfectly to Ferrari and was unlucky to not capitalise on Red Bull’s reliability issues. McLaren were the third fastest team for the majority of the year and yet were able to sneak ahead of Ferrari for second in the constructors. While this is partly because Felipe Massa had a very poor season, it’s also because they had some great races for both Jenson and Lewis. With Jenson completely comfortable in the team now, and with next year’s car likely to suit him more, I think the team will be formidable next year.

2010 was a great season in F1 and if the new regulations don’t cheapen overtaking too much and makes for exciting racing, then I think 2011 could be even better, despite this year being a hard act to follow.

Categories
Miscellaneous

F1: Japan, Korea and Brazil 2010 Race Reviews

Formula One 2009 Rd.15 Japanese GP: Sebastian ...
Vettel at Japan 2009. Image via Wikipedia

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.