Well, I don’t know if hell really has frozen over, but last weekend gave us an exciting race in Valencia, and that’s got to be a sign of something. Look at me, an England fan, rooting for Germany… well they are playing Argentina after all.
What a week it’s been. Between the European GP, a new “serious” series of Top Gear and England getting knocked out by Germany (not unexpectedly), not to mention the richest country in the World Cup also getting its leave at the hands of the second poorest, this would have to be the week when I was out all weekend and had to slip right into a business trip from which I only recovered my freedom today… there’s been an awful lot of excitement about.
But back to the regularly scheduled coverage of the European Grand Prix.
We’ve had a lot of interesting crashes this year, but Webber turning into the Flying Aussie after ramming into the back of Kovalainen’s Lotus takes the top spot. The in-car for the incident was just amazing. It’s one of those things that has to be put down as a faultless racing incident, which neither driver disputes; there was some confusion between the two drivers and Mark didn’t realize how much sooner Heikki had to start braking, so sparks (and a whole car) flew.
A more ambiguous incident occurred just as the safety car was getting out to lead the drivers a lap later, and Ferrari just can’t stop bitching and whining about it. The way I saw it on the TV coverage is that the safety car was just barely starting when Hamilton went past it, and indeed it looked like he barely missed hitting the SLS near the pit lane exit. After review Lewis was given a drive-through penalty, but this took a surprisingly long bit of time to be decreed, and by that time he was so far ahead of the next driver (Kobayashi) that he was able to serve his penalty without losing position.
What happened later with regards to this penalty was a disgrace. Alonso moaned about it, but that’s just Alonso being Alonso at his self-aggrandizing, narcissistic best — when he wins it’s because he’s the best, but when he loses it’s somehow always someone else’s fault. And when he finishes a lowly 8th, it’s got to be Hamilton’s fault. By his blatantly self-serving reckoning if the penalty had been served earlier Hamilton should have ended up 8, which is rubbish. In case you couldn’t guess, I’m not a fan of Alonso, and never have been, whether he was winning or not. He’s always struck me as a bit of a prat.
What was really disgraceful was the response by Ferrari boss Luca De Montezemolo, who used his Maranello platform to claim that the incident had brought injury to the integrity of the sport. This from a guy who stands behind Alonso, a guy who deliberately prevented his own teammate from getting out on the track and qualifying because he knew Hamilton would beat him to the pole at the Hungaroring in 2007, a guy who was a (as far as I’m concerned) knowing but unpunished participant in the Spygate scandal and the beneficiary of the other recent big scandal in F1 (crashgate). Luca is also the head of the team that implemented the “moving floor” three years ago, a device whose sole purpose was to cheat the regulations. Seriously Luca, basta already. You’re no saint, far from it. Your designer suits don’t hide the fact that your effluent stinks as much as anyone else’s.
What Luca’s outburst was really about is his team’s failure to upgrade the car into a winning one, especially given that the team was promising so much for Valencia, and had been doing so for weeks.
Was the penalty given unusually late? It was, no doubt about it. Would Hamilton have been unable to overtake his way to the podium? That is seriously doubtful. That’s what Lewis does, probably better than anyone else in the Championship today.
Vettel was the man of the weekend. He won from pole which is more or less standard fare for the Valencia circuit; his (and Webber’s) strong qualifying certainly goes to show that Red Bull still has the quickest car on the circuit today, even with their being slightly down on power from their Mercedes-equipped rivals. Kamui Kobayashi delivered the most exciting drive of the GP, putting his lowly Sauber consistently in the top 10 and finishing 7th, no doubt much to the delight of team owner Peter Sauber whose team has been pretty consistently down this season; hopefully Kamikaze Kamui can keep up this kind of performance for some time and put paid to his critics who just didn’t think he had it in him.
Good news also for the Williams team as Rubens Barrichello, who has fairly consistently given the best Cosworth-powered drive, finished in fourth place and handed Sir Frank 12 championship points. It’s nice to see a good guy like Rubens do well, and I’m sure that he’s also pretty happy there. This was the best result for a Cosworth-powered ride since 2005, if memory serves correctly. Hulkenberg continued his string of bad luck with exhaust failure.
With a 9th place finish Toro Rosso, and particularly Sebastien Buemi is also turning out to be a team/driver to watch out for, as is Force India which put both its drivers in the top 10. That Mercedes engine is really turning out to be dominant in terms of power and reliability; the Renault engines are far from being as consistent, with the “non-works works team” not doing quite as well when you consider both drivers. Kubica is doing pretty well, but Petrov is seriously struggling, but then he is a rookie. Apparently Kubica is set to stay at Renault which is excellent news, the team really needs his speed and experience.
And now, on to the new Silverstone!