27/03/2012

Malaysian GP, Sepang- Rain, safety car, underdogs shine, red flag, two winners

The race in Malaysia seemed unreal for many of us, simply because of the results. Lot changed in the course of 56 laps with an unexpected victory along with unexpected podium finish. No complaints at all, I welcome such unexpected things more to keep the excitement going. Yes, Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari took the victory while Sergio Perez stood at impressive P2 in his Sauber putting Lewis Hamilton to P3.

The details of the whole weekend is right here:

Practice Sessions, FP1:

The prediction for whole weekend was rain, thunderstorms but for now it was hot & humid as usual in FP1. Every team tweeted about, various ways of keeping themselves cool in the sultry weather.  In no way, it could stop the drivers to get out and do their jobs of getting some valuable data’s to help them do well in the race. Continuing with a good performance of the car, Hamilton ended FP1 as P1 in the McLaren with Vettel at P2 and Rosberg at P3. Both the SFI drivers were in the top 10, as Di Resta finished at P8 while Hulkenberg at P10, who was hoping to run the full race distance this weekend. Karthikeyan had several problems in his HRT to end at P23, a touch better than his teammate, both aiming to get under the 107% rule and start the race.

FP2:

Again the weather remained dry throughout with not even a little indication of rain. The teams continued their work on finding the best possible balance on their cars. Hamilton continued with where he left in FP1 to top the timesheets yet again, showing that the McLaren car is the one to beat. Schumacher ended at P2 followed by Button at P3. Hulkenberg finished at P12 while Di Resta finished at P13, who had two off moments on the track. The team was supposedly running on high fuels. Some cheer in the HRT camp as Karthikeyan finished at P23 beating his teammate and with this time they could start the race.

FP3:

Saturday was cloudy, it rained just before FP3 leaving the track wet in some parts, thereby the teams opted to run less laps than they had planned to. Interestingly, Rosberg in his Mercedes car topped the timesheets. The car this year looks better in practice and qualifying at least. Vettel finished at P2 while Webber at P3. It was a difficult session for SFI as it seemed with Hulkenberg ending at P14 while Di Resta at P17 but we don’t know how much fuel they had. Karthikeyan finished at P24 but under the 107% time which their prime aim.

From the testing it was clear that McLaren and Red Bulls were favourite for pole but the late punch from Mercedes can give them their first pole since the team’s birth. The midfield battle was as close as it can gets, all teams vying for the Q3 spot.

Qualifying, Q1:

It was cloudy but it was dry during the qualifying session. As we have been seeing from the past two seasons, the teams going out of the session were known to all. The 7th car to bow out was the one to watch out for. The SFI duo made it through safely to Q2, though they had a stiff competition. Along with Caterham, Marussia & HRT, STR’s rookie Vergne bowed out in Q1. Importantly, both the HRT’s would start the race as they qualified under the 107% time after the pace was set by Webber.

Q2:

Kimi was fastest in the session which saw Massa bowing out, the trouble run for him & Ferrari just continued. Maldonado went off briefly at T11, bringing the yellow flag which disrupted everyone’s run including Hulkenberg’s and perhaps Di Resta’s as well. This played a part in the SFI team bowing out in Q2. Yet again, the times were very-very close between the midfield teams. Di Resta qualified at P14 & Hulkenberg at P16, both were within 0.300 of a second from P11, we can see the closeness. Perez was the only midfield driver to get to Q3.

Q3:

McLaren or Mercedes? Could Vettel spring a surprise? It was indeed McLaren and Hamilton who snatched the second pole of the season on the trot. His initial lap was enough for him to claim the pole position. His teammate Button was close but not close enough, thus he ended at P2. And finally all the fans were able to see Schumacher where they have been waiting to see him, though it was only P3 but it was great to see him in the press conference. Vettel was only P6 while Alonso could only manage to be at P9.

The qualifying went as expected with Hamilton getting the pole. The surprising aspect was Red Bull’s pace, they just don’t seemed fast as we saw last year. The midfield was close again as we saw in Australia, in these cases luck matters as well and so a bit off and you are down 2-3 places.

Raceday:

The build up to the race was just like a nervous student waiting for his results. In this case it was, rain or no rain? If yes then much? The rain Gods were playing poker but eventually the rain came just before the start of the race throwing out all the possible strategies from the books. The race begun under normal circumstances but within lap 9 the race was red flagged and stopped. By then the positions had changed from top to bottom, Hamilton was still at the top but surprisingly Perez was at P3, Karthikeyan at P10, Schumacher down at P16. All were wondering if the race will go full distance? It was more looking like Canada 2011. But after a brief stop, the race was given a green signal under the condition that all will start in full wets.

It was still a mess after the start, I mean it was tough to check who is at which position. Hamilton lost notably when he was stuck at the pit stop due to Massa coming in while Button lost when he hit Karthikeyan and had to make an additional stop. This gave two unexpected teams and drivers a lead. Yes, it was Alonso leading with Perez behind him and they were fighting for win. Also, loosing in all this battles were Schumacher, Rosberg, Massa. The Mercedes duo after lots of promises once again failed to deliver. The most frustrated driver was Grosjean after suffering yet another DNF. The SFI duo faced a stiff challenge from the midfield drivers to fight their way up.

Both Hulkenberg & Di Resta had a good start to and were just outside points when the red flag came. Before the flag, Di Resta lost some places when he spun when Maldonado hit him. After the race begun, the duo quickly made some places to keep themselves among points. From then on it was just keeping up with the pace and fighting it out for places. Di Resta was chased by Senna and eventually overtaken as the Williams were a bit quicker while Hulkenberg was in constant pressure first from Kobayashi then Maldonado. The Hulk was chasing Vergne, he got close but couldn’t pass him. I was also checking the team’s pit stops times and I must say they did a superb job with all the pit stops, great times there. Eventually, the duo finished among points as Di Resta ended at P7 & Hulkenberg at P9. SFI were the only team to have a double point finish.

Karthikeyan had a troubled race but a good race for HRT ending at P22 after a penalty for Vettel's incident. He got touched twice, once by Button and the second time by Vettel towards the end of the race. Post race, Button duly apologised for his mistake but it was a really out of box reaction from Vettel, who termed him as “cucumber” or say “idiot”, even more was Vettel showing middle finger when the incident happened. That was not called for really. Vettel finished the race out of points with a rather dramatic radio stint at the end. But the hero or rather hero’s of the race were Alonso for winning the race in the slow Ferrari and Perez taking his first podium in a midfield Sauber car. Truly, it was just phenomenal to see them on the podium, Perez could have won but then P2 is not bad at all. The claims of team orders are rubbish too, in my point of view.

It was a great race in the end, stuffed with all the ingredients needed for a fantastic and absorbing race. An unexpected result not only helped us fans to enjoy but gave the season ahead the salt it needed to make it an amazing season ahead. This opens the championship well now, both in Constructors’ and Drivers’ championship. We have to wait for 2 weeks now for the next race now, Chinese GP to take place in the third week. Till then enjoy the break, do whatever you need and sit back and enjoy the back to back races.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.