Sunday, 25 March 2012

Malaysian Grand Prix

Now that I’ve caught my breath, I have to decide which bits to write about. There was just too much excitement and incident for a short blog; might have to make this a long ‘un!

Well it’s now safe to say that the season isn’t going to be a one horse race. We’re still only two grands prix in, but the title fight appears to be wide open. As the lights dropped, Lewis Hamilton managed to hold on to first place, with Button holding second and all the action
occurring behind them further down the order.

In true Malaysian Grand Prix style the rain set in almost immediately and, by the time the cars were embarking on the second lap, it was almost impossible to see them on the TV. Also in true
Malaysian GP style, the race was red flagged within a few laps and we all had a long wait before it restarted.

However, it was on the second lap (before the safety car and the red flag) that Perez and Sauber made their inspired decision to pit and change the tyres to ‘full wets’. It meant that the other cars were losing a lot of time, whilst Perez was making a lot. This resulting in him leading the race at one point and eventually finishing second.

It was a bit of a shock to see Jenson Button make an uncharacteristic mistake on lap fifteen; a mistake that saw him drop down to the back of the pack. He needed a front wing change after
hitting Narain Karthikeyan in a wild move. Button later apologised, but his race was beyond repair and he finished outside the point scoring positions… as did Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel made a slightly more characteristic mistake to end his own race. He shook his fist at Karthikeyan, who it’s fair to say was having a pretty eventful day, but it was entirely Sebastian’s fault and he could blame no one but himself. The top drivers consistently believe it is their right to have the track to themselves and, in this instance, that belief backfired. Sebastian gave Karthikeyan little to no room and clipped his right rear tyre on Narain’s wing endplate.

As the race progressed towards its conclusion, rumours of rain and talk of extra pit stops circulated. Lewis Hamilton didn’t seem to be able to get close to the fight between Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso, so they were left to duke it out. Perez was staggeringly faster than Alonso and he rapidly caught up with him, both before and after his final pit stop.

Everybody, excluding Alonso fans and Ferrari fans, watched with bated breath as Perez came within touching distance of Fernando. He was scuppered when he was, first told to hold his position (a call that was both reasonable and slightly suspicious), and then caught out by a moist white line that saw him run very wide and crucially lose all the ground he had made up between himself and the first placed Ferrari driver.

The race finished that way and I think almost everyone was a Perez fan by the chequered flag. However, questions and accusations started flying even before the cars had started slowing for their in lap. The first thought to cross many people’s minds was the one regarding the politics of Ferrari and Sauber, and whether Ferrari had the power to influence the outcome of the race.

Ferrari provides Sauber with engines and as a result Sauber could be seen to play second fiddle to the Italian team. Then the idea manifests itself as to whether Perez’s mistake was indeed a mistake or just made to look like one. Something tells me this discussion will continue to play out well in to next week. Personally I would rather not be sceptical about this one. I believe that for Sergio Perez (a young driver, running in second position, in the second race of only his second
season, with a car easily quick enough to take the victory) holding back and settling for second would be the last thought on his mind.

All in all, a fantastic race! It’s hard to see how it can get better than this. One thing is for certain, if it continues in this fashion, then I’m not going to run out of things to write in this blog.