Indian GP – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Pure opinion. None of this is said with any malice, although I’m sure there are some who will take it as such! Enjoy it for what it is, and by all means, let me know your thoughts and opinions as to why I am right or wrong.The Good:
In a season that was threatening unparelleled unpredictability, Sebastian Vettel has won the last four races in a row. Even during his dominance of 2011 that is something Vettel had never managed previously, and you’d be hard pushed to argue against him making it five in a row in Abu Dhabi. In todays era of competitiveness, Vettels ability to lead from the front is extraordinary, and although people have questioned how good he and his RB8 would be if he was starting races in the midfield, the point is that he is avoiding having to test out that scenario with his stunning qualifying performances. I do have one large criticism of him though – we all know Vettel loves to collect the ‘little trophies’ like fastest laps and pole positions and so on. But when will he learn that when you have a car that you are having to nurse to the end of a race, that it is not clever to go after the ‘little trophy’ when it could cost you the big one?
Once again, Fernando Alonso produced everything he possibly could to cling on to his Championship chances. Admittedly Webbers KERS issues gave him that position, but only because Alonso had worked hard to stay on Webbers tail throughout the race whilst being in an inferior car. Look at the tow he got from the McLarens on Lap 1 into Turn 4. Going three abreast into the corner, the two McLarens outbraked themselves, whilst Alonso calmly navigated the bend and got on the gas to finish in front of Hamilton. Absolutely supreme driving, and wonderful respect shown to each other by all three drivers. If Vettel wants to win this title, he will have to work hard for it and make no mistakes, because the one bet you can be certain of is that the Spanish maestro will not give up until it is mathematically impossible for him to succeed. Even after finishing behind Vettel in India, he was bullish when questioned about his chances. 13 points is the deficit, with 3 races to go.
Why is it always Mark Webbers car that seems to develop KERS issues? Despite this, he held up Alonso for as long as possible, and still managed to keep himself ahead of the fast finishing McLarens and get onto the podium. After a poor run of form, that is two excellent podium finishes from Webber which put him back into 4th place in the standings, just 6 points behind Kimi Raikkonens fading Lotus.
Red Bull & Adrian Newey
Red Bulls lead is surely insurmountable as it was stretched to 91 points in India. As I said after Korea: ‘The constant work put in by Adrian Newey and co has led to them producing a working double DRS to help in qualifying, and has meant that at the business end of the season, they have the best package once again’. The praise once again came raining down on Adrian Newey after this race, led by Alonso – “At the moment we are not fighting against Sebastian only, we are also fighting against Newey”. Hamilton also spoke out after the race – “Adrian is just a genius. I can’t even imagine what he and his team are doing. He’s a one-off.“. Genius indeed. Newey does not just produce fast cars, he produces cars with the attributes required for a given situation. To do this as often as he has shows an incredible adaptability rarely found in any sport. Even in a ‘show us your titles’ competition with Schumacher, Newey comes out on top, and if as expected, the RB8 claims the Constructors title, Newey will have created NINE championship winning vehicles. NINE.
It’s not been a bad week for Nico Hulkenberg. Despite qualifying 12th, a more than decent showing gave him his third consecutive points finish. It is looking likely that he will finish ahead of his teammate, if only because his confidence is so much higher at this point. Coupled with this, the confirmation that he will be driving for Sauber next season will be a feather in his cap. Sauber may not offer him the consistency that he has began to build in his current car, but they will offer him the odd race to showcase his undoubted talent at the front of the pack. And that didn’t work out too badly for Perez.
A decent race from Bruno Senna, punctuated by two fantastic overtakes – an opportunist move on his teammate and one round the outside on Rosberg. If only he could have qualified as well as his teammate.
Nicked the fastest lap from Vettel right at the very end, and he will be completely aware of how much that will have annoyed him. You could almost hear JB chuckling to himself, the little scamp.The Bad:
That must have been some party after Kamui Kobayashis podium in Japan. I say this, because the last two races have contained very basic driving errors. Korea saw him ruin the races of Button and Rosberg, and in India it was Maldonados turn to feel the wrath of the Japanese juggernaut. You can understand Maldonados confusion – as he moved over to take the line into the corner, he can surely have expected Kobayashi to do the same as he left more than enough room. Instead Kobayashi tried to come back onto the inside line, puncturing Maldonados right rear as he did so. You can imagine that there is considerable concern in the Kobayashi camp at the moment. Saubers confirmation that Hulkenberg would be their driver for the 2013 season was notable for there being no confirmation of Kobayashi continuing in his seat. Three races left, and you would imagine they have to be decent ones.
You wonder whether Sergio Perez feels that he has something to prove in his last few races in a Sauber. That is now three races in a row that he could be accused of being a little ‘over-eager’ in his overtaking, and it has cost him every time. Perez has talent to burn, but he needs to mature quickly before his McLaren debut.
McLaren slipped slightly further behind Ferrari in India, but yet both Hamilton and Button seemed to have tremendous pace on the hard tyre in the second half of the race. They will not have expected to be this far off Red Bulls pace at this point and will no doubt be disappointed after a season that promised so much. That said, what a wonderful 5-wheel-change-pit-stop that was. You will rarely see such an example of such smooth teamwork and organisation. Not great when that’s one of the highlights of your race though.
Appeared to get their sums wrong for India, although you would have thought they would have drawn on last years experience of the Buddh Circuit. Once again, Pirelli were far too conservative with their tyre choice which enabled teams to revert to a one stop strategy with the minimum of fuss. Just look at Hamiltons drive in the second half of the race for an example of how the tyres could be pushed without incurring too much degradation and loss of pace.
You know when you’ve been KK’d.The Ugly:
Paul Di Resta
Again out qualified, outraced and outperformed by his teammate. Paul Di Restas mood will not have been helped by the merry go round that is going on for next season. After having the McLaren and Mercedes doors firmly slammed shut, his teammate gently tiptoed through the Sauber door and closed it gently behind him. Di Resta has gone on record as saying he doesn’t understand Hulkenbergs decision, but it all has an air of ‘well he would say that wouldn’t he’ about it. Di Restas confidence appears shot at the moment, and he looks as though the end of the season can’t come quick enough.
Now 43 and 53 points behind the two teams they have been battling with all season, Lotus have slipped into a no mans land in 4th place. Off the pace of McLaren and Ferrari (the last time Lotus outscored them both was 12 races ago in Spain), and miles ahead of the non battle between Mercedes and Sauber. So many good things were being said about Lotus a few months ago, and the question was when, not if, they would start winning races. However, the development experience of the top three has seen them remain standing still whilst the others have pushed on. The confirmation of Raikkonen for next season is undoubtedly a boost, and you would expect them to be building for 2013 already.
It was on the very first lap that Vergne repaid the favour that Michael Schumacher dealt him in Singapore. From there, Schumacher crawled to the pits for a tyre change, and then jostled around amongst the also-rans before finally pulling in three laps from the end. Three races left for the racing gods to provide him with some sort of a decent send off.
Mercedes and Sauber
Following the Korean GP I wrote that the race for 5th place had stalled. It now seems to be in reverse, with both teams doing their best to give the position to the other. In the last three races, Rosberg, Schumacher and Perez have emerged pointless, while Kobayashi only has his freak home race podium finish. Sauber in particular should be concerned – if their new driver continues his points scoring, Force India will be sniffing around them in a new race for 6th place. The possibility that Sauber could end up 7th is there, and utterly unbelievable given the car they have produced this season.Want to be a guest writer on VitalF1.com?
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