Sunday, 10 April 2011

Mclaren Catching Red Bull?

Image courtesy of Team Lotus
So the Malaysian Grand prix is over and the status quo is maintained, just! An interesting and unusually exciting weekend created some twists, but no major surprises at the pointy end of the field. Vettel wins followed fairly closely by a Mclaren, but not the one everyone was expecting. And Renault continue their new-found form by taking the last podium position.


Qualifying started slowly for Mark Webber, he didn't seem to be anywhere in Q1 at all but he still made it through. All the other usual suspects made their expected performances but it was plain to see that Ferrari were not where they hoped to be. They seem to be putting this down to some kind of aerodynamic mystery. Wind tunnel looks great, real life not so much. With no real clue about the problem, the plan seemed to be a case of cross fingers and trust Alonso to get them some sort of result.

Michael Schumacher put in another of his middle-of-the-pack performances. This, the team claimed later, was due to his DRS flap not working, but lets face it. He just doesn't seem to be as fast as he used to be. Time to hang up the gloves forever? Its getting a little depressing now, and that's just for me, never mind Michael!

At the end of Q3 Both Button and Hamilton put in fantastic laps, leaving Vettel and Webber with a big job to do. Vettel squeaked it at the last but it was clear that Mclaren are a heck of a lot closer than anyone (including me) thought they would be. The relief on the Red Bull pit wall said a lot!


Renault made a blinding start to the main event by simply going around everyone else. They were helped a little by Webber having no Kers, but still a great move. Surprisingly no one managed to get hit on the first few corners, which is always nice, and then the race proper got underway.

The DRS system didn't seem to be making the impact expected in the first half of the race. Instead of lots of overtaking there seemed to be more people slithering into the first corner barely under control. Still good fun to watch though. There was some good dicing by a number of people, Webber trying to recover his position without the aid of Kers and Kobayashi just being Kobayashi for a start.

Fernando made the best of a bad situation and provided everyone some entertainment. The radio message to the pits, "I am pushing, don't worry!" made me (almost literally) laugh. Cool under pressure or what. Towards the end, as he tried to get past a very defensive Hamilton, Alonso made a slip-up and hit the back of the Mclaren. Luckily (for Hamilton at least) he only destroyed his own front wing and had to make a pit stop to replace it. The interview after the race where Alonso suggested that they "hit each other" was a classic moment. The man really does seem to have no idea that anyone else in the world has a right to be on the track. Or perhaps its just Lewis? In an extra twist, the stewards have decided that Fernando should have missed and have given him a penalty of 20 secs. They also decided that Lewis moved twice (must have missed that?) and given him a 20 second penalty as well which drops him to 8th!

Mark Webber, dragging himself back towards the front, made an impressive move on Massa. The DRS seemed to just about make up for the lack Kers and got him alongside the Brazilian. Then it was down to sheer bravery to get him around the outside of turn 1, good job!

Petrov made sure of getting his name remembered. After running wide he found an extra bit of tarmac and nailed it to get back on track, without worrying too much about the small strip of grass in the way. It launched him fully in the air and he landed with a lap full of steering gear. Classic manoeuvre and very lucky to be more or less under control as he rolled to a halt. I've had a similar thing happen with my wheel on the PC and that was a bit of a shock at the time. I can only imagine how much worse it is at 150mph! Turned out to be a bit of a shame in the end as he would have been on for a good result. If Vitaly keeps on like this he may well replace Kobayashi as my number one F1 nutcase.

I think the news worked out well for DRS in the end. There was overtaking but it clearly wasn't as easy as some had feared. In terms of the season the news is, interesting. Red Bull did have mechanical problems, but not enough to cost them the race. Mclaren did have speed, but not quite enough to win it. And Ferrari do have problems, but not quite enough to put them out of the points. Lotus Renault (the other Lotus?) are the biggest surprise so far this year, their pace is very good indeed. They must be missing Kubica like crazy right now. Watching Ferrari fight their way back to their rightful place should be good. Lets just hope they get an idea of what the problem is soon.

Bring on China, this should be good!

Full Result

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