With our supercomputer running overtime to bring you the updated calculations here at backmarkersf1 HQ, we put on our science caps and put some points on the table, even for those not fortunate enough to be in front of the grid cars. There were a few shake-ups this week, with a (un) healthy number of retirements and strong drives from a few of the mid- and backfielders.
1. The Top Dogs
Ooh surprise surprise, Fingerboy yet again extends his lead in the WDC no matter how it’s calculated with another +10 points to his name. Webber completing the Red Bull 1-2 in Spa sees him jump from 5th to second in the standings with a 6 points haul, albeit just a single point ahead of Hamilton and Alonso. Despite suffering his 2nd DNF of the season, Hamilton stays ahead of Alonso by virtue of his 2 wins to Alonso’s 1. Recovering from his earlier double DNF, Button is also a close contender following again just one point behind the 2007 Mclaren manlove duo. Felipe Massa’s weekend looked to be off to a great start with qualifying ahead of his teammate in fourth, but after a few laps and taking it bent over from Alonso and Hamilton, he was back in his ‘natural’ position. A late puncture then sealed his fate to come home 8th and score 0 points yet again in our alternate WDC. He is the first of the top dogs to be mathematically eliminated for WDC contention. Though hopes are getting slimmer with each race for the other competitors as well. While runaway leader Vettel takes some shine off this WDC, the fight for second place is going to be brutal and will be interesting to watch unfold over the next couple GPs.
2. The Midfield
For the first time in a while, Rosberg saw his lead to his teammate diminished with Schumacher ‘winning’ the race of the midfielders in Spa with an emphatic drive from the back of the grid and overtaking Rosberg in the final stages to complete a Mercedes 1-2; but Schumacher still has a long way to go if he is to catch his teammate in the standings. Heidfeld’s sad demise saw him drop down from a solid 3rd to 6th, with his spot as best of the rest behind the Mercs now taken up by the first real surprise of the weekend: Adrian Sutil, who bagged a podium finish with another strong drive. If he keeps this up, the Hulk may very well be forced to look elsewhere if he wants a 2012 race seat, because Sutil has really taken the gloves off! Petrov edges ahead of Kobayashi by virtue of his higher finish in Australia. While neither drivers’ race weekends went off flawlessly, Petrov managed to secure a decent 4th place despite a last lap brake failure and spin, while Kobayashi had points taken off him by Maldonado and Di Resta. Pastor finally put some significant points on the board with a score of 10, but he still trails 32 points behind his teammate Barrichello, who failed to score at Spa due to a final laps run in with Kobayashi and subsequent broken front wing. Di Resta picked up some points but sees the gap to his teammate extended and will need some very strong drives to catch him up before the season is over. The Toro Rosso’s both ended up scoreless after an abysmal weekend, having been both taken out of the race through no fault of their own after a promising qualifying session. Perez again struggled to make the most out of his strong qualifying performance until he too was forced to retire thus scoring no points. Debutant Bruno Senna similarly crushed all hopes of capitalizing on an impressive quali when he rammed into Alguersuari and struggled on to finish the race well outside the points.
The Merc inter team battle will be one to watch out for, to see whether after this great drive at Spa Schumacher will now be consistently able to challenge Rosberg, while the fight for best of the rest is heating up with 3 drivers on a napkin (4 if you count Heidfeld who might still make a shock comeback if he wins his court case). Di Resta, Perez and Maldonado will need some good scores if they are to catch their teammates and we’ll see what Senna will do now that he’s got his horrible noob mistake out of the way.
3. The Backmarkers
Despite yet again being outqualified by his teammate Kovalainen, who even dragged the car into q2 with a stunning banzai lap in the dying moments of q1, Trulli manages to finish on top to head home a Team Lotus 1-2, extending his lead to Kovi to 7 points, almost a full win ahead! Team Lotus performed very strongly in the GP despite a first turn collision and picked off the wounded midfielder Barrichello, while managing to stay close to Senna, Kobayashi and Di Resta. A truly encouraging performance for the team. D’Ambrosio found something special at his home GP to finish ahead of Glock for the first time in a few races, though he was helped by Glock’s wild move on Di Resta in T1, which compromised both their races. Still, Glock trails just 6 points behind Kovi and has D’Ambrosio breathing down his neck just 3 points adrift. Liuzzi is in no-mans land though he can be thankful his young teammate Ricciardo was forced to retire with mechanical issues, as the young Aussie was looking in contention for the win in the backmarkers race, retiring from the lead but with the Lotuses close behind. It’s doubtful he would have managed to stay ahead of them, but he was definitely on the road to beating the Virgins and his teammates until disaster struck, ending his race.
The Lotus inter team battle is shifting into Trulli’s favor, and Kovi is still under pressure from the Virgins. The Lotus will need good reliability to be able to clinch a deserved 1-2 in the standings. The Virgin team battle is still all up in the air with just 3 points separating the drivers, but Jerome will need to improve as he cannot count on unreliability hampering his teammate who still has the upper hand on pure pace. Liuzzi is still comfortably ahead and will likely win the HRT battle, but that’s to be expected as his teammates split the race seat. Ricciardo is nonetheless on the way to beating Vitantonio a few times in races, and depending on what happens in front of them could still claw back the deficit with some emphatic drives.