Thursday 30 June 2011

European GP Report: No one can fight Seb's Bull in Valencia

Sebastian Vettel wins. Getting kind of used to typing that. I'd be annoyed if there wasn't so much to admire about the boy. Yes, Seb took the honours in the European Grand Prix in Valencia, making it his sixth win in eight rounds (and he came a close second in the other two). As for Seb's claiming of his second driver's championship this year, short of falling over getting out of the bath it's surely a case of when rather than whether.

Vettel was in command in Valencia
I got back from Valencia (had a good time, thanks for asking) to encounter lots of 'boring' talk about the race. I have to say I don't agree. Partly this is because I take the Murray Walker view that there's no such thing as a boring F1 race (only processional ones), but I also thought there was much to admire in Valencia last Sunday.

Most prominently was the performance of Seb. This was no grim clinging to the lead seen from him in Spain, Monaco and Canada. Vettel was in command in Valencia, and concocted the perfect mix of speed, composure and sympathy to his Pirellis. He once again scampered away from pole at the start, and was upwards of two seconds clear of team mate Webber in second place after three laps. From then on he went as fast as he dared, edging out his lead tenth by tenth while keeping his tyres in shape, and immediately responding to whatver brief challenge burgeoned behind him. And then in the final laps he showed what he could really do, shaving the walls and setting some fastest laps, and finished ten seconds up the road from Fernando Alonso, his nearest challenger. It's hardly news, but it's worth repeating the extent that Seb has the winning from the front thing down to a nicety. And all this at a track that (again) wasn't meant to suit the Red Bull, on a weekend that the new fangled ban on changing engine mapping between qualifying and the race was supposed to trip the Bulls up, and Seb was under some scrutiny after his last lap goof up in Canada. At this rate, not even the much-vaunted ban of off-throttle blown diffusers for Silverstone will cause the slightest hesitation in his or Red Bull's stride.

Sunday 19 June 2011

What's eating Lewis Hamilton?

The knives are out for Lewis Hamilton it seems. In Canada he squeezed two collisions with other cars in attempted passing moves, one terminal, and a further near miss, into a grand total of three racing laps. This might not have been so bad in itself, but it followed but a fortnight from Lewis's Monaco race, which included a further two controversial collisions as Lewis attempted to overtake a rival, as well as an extraordinary and frustrated verbal diatribe after the race. This in turn continued a series of slightly strange public comments from Lewis this year, in a season that started with Lewis insisting his head and off-track situation was now sorted.

Lewis Hamilton was in the wars again in Canada
Credit: ph-stop / CC
After the Canadian race there were many looking to stick the boot into Lewis. This was most egregiously so for Niki Lauda, who variously described Lewis as 'completely mad', and that the FIA should punish him as his driving will result in 'someone getting killed' (as an aside, with all respect due I think Lauda sometimes crosses the line between being outspoken and irreverent, and being a cheap, over the top, rent-a-quote). Stirling Moss was also critical.

Clearly not all is right in Lewis's world right now. But what?

Saturday 18 June 2011

Canadian GP Report: Wet a drive from Jenson

A few stats from Jenson Button's drive in Canada last Sunday. Number of pitstops: 5; number of drive-through penalties served: 1; number of laps in last place: 4 (laps 37-40); number of collisions with other cars: 3; number of punctures: 1; average speed: 46mph; place at the chequered flag: 1st.

Jenson Button's win in Canada was stunning
Credit: Alex Comerford / CC
No doubt had you written a drama script based on Jenson's afternoon in Canada it would have been thrown back at you by the producer with comments scrawled on it to the effect of 'unbelievebale' and 'outrageous'. Yet, it is exactly what happened, and the numbers tell the story of what an outlandish and stunning performance it was from the Englishman, as well as what a potty race it was in Canada. Without hyperbole, it will surely go down as an all-time classic.

It was very much a race of two halves for Jenson. His first half of the race was somewhat clumsy, and herein he ended the race of two other drivers (Hamilton and Alonso) in clashes. Both did have the whiff of the racing incident about them, but speaking personally I'd marginally attribute any blame for both to Jenson. His change of direction before the Hamilton collision looked a bit unnatural and robust to me, while in the Alonso contretemps Nando gave him just enough room and no more, and Jenson seemed to understeer off a kerb into him. These, and a few other things besides, served to put Jenson in last place just after half distance.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Explaining my mini-hiatus

You may have noticed that it's been almost two weeks since I posted anything new on this blog. Unfortunately my day job (yes, I have one) has been detaining me even more than normal in this time, hence my lack of activity on here.

What's more, I'm off to Le Mans this weekend, so there aren't likely to be any opportunities for me to post anything on here prior to next week. Normal service should resume then.

In the meantime, F1 will hopefully struggle on without my input (joke).