Monday, November 3, 2008

Brazilian GP Winners and Losers

Sunday 2nd November 2008

It was the Championship decider to end all Championship deciders, and though Felipe Massa won the battle, Lewis Hamilton won the war.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1st
Massa did everything he had to do. He put the car on pole and then dominated a race that he had to win. He was fortunate that the entire field were forced to stop early (having qualified with low fuel) and so the McLarens weren't able to make use of their extra laps of fuel that had put them further down the grid.

He was the model of dignity in defeat and your heart went out to him. Though the more deserving driver won, you got the feeling that the nicer guy didn't. Massa's sporting reaction was in complete contrast to the crowd. Before this race I felt pretty well-equipped to argue that F1 crowds were knowledgeable and sporting and showed football crowds up. Not in Brazil.

Fair enough, you can boo drivers if they've done something wrong, like block the track in qualifying or take the local hero out of the race the GP before, but booing Lewis Hamilton's father is pitiful. To jeer the moment he comes on the TV screens is sad and ignorant.

That wouldn't happen in Canada and who's the more likely to lose their race...? By contrast, Felipe Massa fought back his emotion and represented the best of Brazil. He will surely be a World Champion with Ferrari before long.

Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 17, Lewis Hamilton on Giancarlo Fisichella
Hamilton had to get past an admirably quick Force India and to do it, he had to go off the racing line. Onto the wet line into the treacherous Turn 1 he dived to outbrake Fisi and take 5th place. Not stunning, but a small mistake could have undone the previous 17 races.


Whereas American Football has a game structure that allows for last second drama, F1 is a more natural form of theatre. Lewis Hamilton passing Timo Glock one corner before the end of an 18-race season is like winning the Superbowl on the last play with the clock down to 00.00. It's like winning the Champion's League with the last kick of the game.

Sunday's race will go down as the epic finale to an epic season.

For those not in need of psychiatric counselling after the Brazilian GP and who actually enjoyed the experience, then thanks are due to the various race stewards throughout the season whose bizarre decisions manufactured a final race showdown. It should have been Hamilton's title already, but the various deductions and failures to deduct his rival, have conspired to create the greatest F1 showdown of all time.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 5th
Hamilton managed to save some more woeful McLaren decision making. If Fisichella can set the fastest middle sector of anyone in a Force India on Lap 9 on slick tyres, followed by Alonso and Vettel pitting on Lap 10, then surely they should be ready to pit Hamilton on Lap 11 when they see Ferrari getting tyres ready in the pit lane. Because they would have known that Ferrari couldn't have pitted Massa and Raikkonen together without dropping Kimi a long way back and so if they brought him in then, he could have made up at least one place..

As it was, Hamilton drove a long way within himself and the result was his first World title.

Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 4th
Vettel was very controlled. Aggressive but not rash...erm...apart from Lap 1. For those F1 drivers keen to criticise their fellow pilots, Vettel's attempts to push Kovalainen onto the grass in the run down to Lake Descent on the first lap bordered on the Colombian hitman. Had he turned Kovalainen's car round in front of the entire pack racing downhill at 180mph then we would still be sweeping up the carbon fibre now.

Robert Kubica, BMW, 11th
Kubica should be hauled before the stewards and asked to explain why he decided to battle two drivers fighting for 5th and 6th places, and a World Championship, two laps before the end of the race. At that stage he had no chance of unlapping himself from the leader and so was destined to finish his race a lap early and outside the points. His move past Hamilton unsettled the Brit who then ran wide allowing Vettel through.

In the euphoria that will wash over the McLaren team this will be ignored, but it was a serious lapse of judgement from the Pole.

Given that Ayrton Senna once assaulted Eddie Irvine after a race at Suzuka for the Ulsterman daring to unlap himself (it had no consequence on the result), it would be interesting to see what the great man would have done to Kubica in the circumstances.

As he is someone who expressed his desire for Felipe Massa to win the World Championship then it smacks of interfering. Had it been Heidfeld then there would have been less trouble.Kubica should spend the first two races of 2009 watching the races and reflecting.

David Coulthard, Red Bull, DNF
David's plan to do some doughnuts in front of the grandstand on his slowdown lap was never realised. Though given the rainfall that fell at the end it might have been a bit hazardous anyway. He's rumoured to be providing pundit support for the BBC commentary team in 2009 so it's not like we're going to be without him - or captioned reminders (a la Match of the Day) of how many races he's won and points he's scored. On the other hand Rubens Barrichello - who does have another season inside of him - might be out of the picture.

F1 Race Stewards
More of the usual. Trulli forcing Bourdais off the road. Rosberg on Coulthard. Kubica on Vettel and Hamilton, and Jenson Button being released alongside a Williams in the pit lane and then racing into the pit lane turn. How come these were not worthy of investigation...? Rhetorical, obviously, as the stewards decisions this year have had all the predictability of an Amy Winehouse live performance.

Mark - knees up muvver braaaaan - Blundell
ITV went out on a high with the most dramatic GP and Mark - git orf me barra this one last time - Blundell rose to the occasion.

Mark seemed very worried about Turn 1, even though Lewis had got round it fairly easily last year. "Turn 1 round here has turned up with a couple of situations we've seen in the past," he fretted.

He was also worrying about Lewis Hamilton's gearbox.
"Let's not hope that a glitch comes upon us."
Because last year...
"A little bit of a problem came across the gearbox."
He debuted a particularly nice fruit analogy for tyres in qualifying
"They've only got goodness left in them for this big lap you put in."And at the end of the race he came up with two Blundell gems to treasure for all time.
"Sao Paulo is predictably variable."and"...a last lap wot made the GP very special."


Andrew Davies

Source : Planet F1

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