Monday, March 25, 2013


What the fuck was that then mate! Multi 21!!
First off, what did I think of the 2013 Malaysian GP? Well, it wasn't a washout. The threat of rain was pretty big and the rain did come but not enough to wash out the race. Not enough to cause a Safety Car start or having to start on the full wets. Instead we had an intermediate start with half the track wet and the other half dry. Personally it was a pretty good race with lots of overtaking, dueling  strategy changes and unexpected happenings. Much better than previous years of processions or washout.

The story of the day was always going to be about Vettel and Webber. And Rosberg and Hamilton. Those 2 teams provided the gist of the whole race really. And what happened at the end was the icing on the cake. Hell, it took the cake! A lot of people have a lot of different opinions, fans of each team and driver of course being the most hardcore as their team or driver cannot do any wrong. But I've read a lot of other divergent and sometimes logical opinions as well.

The race itself was pretty good. The start was clean with only Alonso being caught out by Vettel into turn 2, hitting Vettels back and breaking one of the wing pylons. His broken wing was scraping the track all the way around and you would have thought that Alonso would have pitted for a new wing. But he just went on trying to do a few more laps before changing tires to the slicks as he didn't want to be pitting twice in 4 laps. Makes sense but the wing didn't think so. It broke and exploded underneath the car coming into lap 2, Alonso going straight into the gravel, almost hitting Webber.

One title contender out of the race, which was good news for Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren plus Lotus and Massa. Massa didn't do too well either, most of the afternoon he spent out of the camera and attention. A sign that someone is not doing well enough to warrant the attention of the race director.

Kimi Raikkonen didn't do too well either. Starting P10 and losing one position at the start he was always stuck in traffic and his Melbourne pace was nowhere to be found. Seems we were all too eager to predict a Lotus championship this year then. But Lotus quietly went about their race and finished P6 (Gro) and P7 (Rai). Not too bad for the points.

McLaren had a better shot with Button launching into attack mode at the start, made some places and could have made a 3 stop strategy with other teams going for a 4 stop. Unfortunately on his final stop the team again botched up their pitstop with a right front tire not being put on properly. Button had to be pushed back into the pitbox to do a refit and wasted so much time. In the end he retired anyway from the race. At least Perez managed to score his maiden points with McLaren by finishing P9.

The interesting part of the race started after everybody changed to the slicks when the track dried up. There were purple sectors everywhere and many drivers were trading FLAPs. It was raining purples. That's when the race order was shaping up properly. It was obvious that this was a 4 horse race, a close fight between the Red Bulls and Mercedes. Mercedes' pace in this race was very encouraging with them able to keep pace with Red Bull and even outpacing them on some laps.

Webber made a critical move at the start when he made an uncharacteristic start by launching himself into a good position by the first corner and P2 by the second lap, aided of course by Alonso flying off the track. And Webber jumped Vettel at the first stop and lead the race from there on. The positions changed throughout between Webber and Vettel, and between Hamilton and Rosberg but in the final showdown it was Webber leading Vettel and Hamilton leading Rosberg.

This is where it got really interesting. Webber was in a comfortable lead and was poised to win the race. It seems that the team have agreed that by that time whoever was leading will be allowed to win the race with both cars turning down their engine to make it safely to the finish. Vettel of course had other ideas. He showed his desire to take the win for himself at half distance when he asked the team over the radio to move Webber out of the way.
"Get him out of the way, he's too slow,"
Fuck Webber, it's MY team!
Wow, sounded like a team owner who is also the driver. Webber responded with a faster lap after that while Vettel's engineer told him it's only half way through and to be patient. He of course did not listen and was cunningly positioning himself for an attack towards the end of the race when he knew they were supposed to turn down their engines and cruise to the flag.

On lap 46 Vettel made his move, overtaking Webber who wouldn't yield of course and the fight ensued over a number of corners and into another lap. It was fantastic racing to watch and they nearly came to blows. Christian Horner had to come on the radio twice to tell Vettel to back off but Vettel was not listening. He finally took Webber and Webber did not fight back after that, probably protecting his tires and wanting to finish the race. The Mercedes duo were also behind them and could mount an attack.

Fuck you matey! For once the finger is on the other hand..
The Mercedes duo were also having a battle of their own. Rosberg was having good pace while Hamilton was low on fuel with the team telling him to "lift and coast" to save fuel. That was the reason Vettel took him earlier and went after Webber. Now Rosberg and Hamilton were trading places with DRS over a few laps. It seemed useless having DRS as it just made them change position until the end. Well, until Rosberg got fedup and asked Ross Brawn to let him past.

The answer was a stern "Negative Nico, Negative". Again Rosberg asked and Brawn had to explain to him that Lewis could also go faster but he (Brawn) had asked Lewis not too. At this point we know that Lewis was low on fuel and had to conserve but we didn't know if the same was for Rosberg. He could have gone after Vettel. After the race while parking his car, Rosberg managed to mutter "Remember this one". He will probably want to cash in on his sacrifice this time later on in the season.

Lewis on the podium did let out that Rosberg was faster and that he thought Rosberg should be the one on the podium.
"The team did a fantastic job if I am honest I really feel Nico should be standing here, he had a better race than me. I can't say it's the best feeling being up here but racing is racing."
Really nice of Lewis to say that, he couldn't hide his shame on the podium. Upon receiving the trophy his body language just says "this is wrong". He probably knew that he was on fuel save mode while Rosberg was not. Rosberg could have taken P3 and maybe even chased down Vettel or Webber for P2. Not sure what Brawn was doing there or whether he had a choice in the matter. My thoughts is that Niki Lauda might have had something to do with it.

It wasn't me Nico. I was in the McLaren pitbox..
As for the 2 Red Bull drivers, the atmosphere in the drivers room before the podium ceremony says it all. Webber was really pissed while looking at Vettel and asking him "multi-21" twice. What that means we'll never know but I suspect it was an agreed finishing position depending on the order at the time.He then proceeded to slam down a drink bottle on the table. And even on the podium with Webber not mincing his words.
"Seb made his own decisions and will have protection as usual,"
Team principal Christian Horner had this to say:
"There was no point. He had made it quite clear what his intention was by making the move. He knew what the communication was. He had had the communication. He chose to ignore it. He put his interest beyond what the team's position was. He was focused on those seven points difference between second and first place - which was wrong. He has accepted it was wrong. From our point of view as soon as that last pitstop was completed the instruction was given to both cars effectively to hold position. At that point Sebastian has chosen to ignore that."
Webber will go back to Australia to surf while waiting for China and who knows what he will be thinking about. It will definitely be about whether he wants to continue at Red Bull or not. It is "Seb's team" after all. As for Sebastian who apologised to Webber and the team after the race and who said that he didn't do it deliberately, I have no idea what he is talking about.
"It doesn't help his feelings right now. Apologies to Mark and now result is there, but all I can say is that I didn't do it deliberately."
An F1 driver who can process a lot of information at 200mph had information of how the race was supposed to end based on the order at the last 10 laps. His team principal went over the radio twice to tell him no to do it and he said it like this - "This is silly, c'mon Seb". Vettel then proceeded to do it anyway and he is claiming he made a mistake (yes definitely) and didn't do it deliberately? Overtaking in F1 is difficult, it's even harder to do it by accident.

Interesting times we live in. Anyway, what's done is done and we now move on to China where Rosberg had his maiden F1 victory last year. Hopefully he won't have to "lift and coast" there.

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1 comment:

John King said...

The person with the biggest problem now is Christian Horner. In almost all cases, teams would fine, suspend or even fire a driver that defied team orders in such a blatant way. To retain some credibility, ensure it doesn't happen again and perhaps stop Webber from walking, he has to take some action - telling Vettel he was naughty isn't enough. It will be interesting to see what happens next...