With the races in Japan and Korea back to back our backmarkersf1 not so supercomputer suffered a meltdown – too soon? – so we had to skip one alternate WDC standings session. Let’s see if having 2 races to score will give us some upsets in the standings.
The Top Dogs
With a win and a third place there is still no stopping Vettel as he cruises his 2nd WDC home. Button has been looking like the main man to come best of the rest, but his impressive string of consecutive podium finishes ended in Korea, where after a horrendous start he could not make any headway as he watched the great Webbo-Hammy fight unfold in front of him without ever getting involved in the fight himself. Despite having the quickest car in quali for the first time this year, both Mclarens were struggling for race pace, and Lewis drove a great race to hold off Webber for so long and grab a well deserved second place. Webbo definitely looked quicker over a lap, but the Mclaren’s key advantage in traction out of turn one left Webber looking at Lewis’ rear wing for most of the race. Surprisingly, Ferrari did not issue any team orders right away as Massa maintained his position off the line ahead of Alonso, but was quite clearly holding the Spaniard up. That said, fair play to Ferrari, what would be the point of crushing Massa’s spirit even more when the WDC is long gone anyway for Alonso, so for once the Ferrari pitwall gets my praises….untill they let Alonso jump Massa in the pitstops. A tad sloppy stop for Massa dropped him into traffic and when Nando finally made his stop he came out comfortably ahead and left Felipe for dead with a very impressive final stint. It must have been a fairly depressing weekend for the scuderia, as at no point did they really challenge the top 2 teams, and Alonso rightly ‘gave up’ as the race came to a close. Button’s win in Japan saw him finally pull some sort of a gap to those behind as he is now 9 points clear of Mr Eyebrows. Webber follows one point behind and Lewis finally got some good points on the board again but is still 3 points further back. As for Massa..well he may have outqualified Nando in both races but only got 1 point out of it, nuff said.
4.Di Resta 148
Here again the winner has long been decided, especially now that Schumi got punted off in true simracing style by Petrov in one of the more…noob…moves of the year. Despite his misfortune MSC still has a pretty firm grip on p2 with the midfgield being dominated by the Mercs, so here as well the pack is battling for the crumbs. The Force Indias look to have the best cards in hand, with Sutil and Di Resta pulling a respectable gap to their nearest competitors. Sutil should really start worrying about the Scot now as he’s closed up to being just 9 points behind in the battle for third. Petrov’s robbed himself of some crucial points for p5 with his kamikaze move and even though the Saubers had a horrid race in Korea, Kobayashi has closed back up to within just 1 point of the Russian.
There is no end in sight for the Toro Rosso knifefight as Buemi and Alguersuari keep duking it out. Buemi got very unlucky in Japan with his wheel falling off and Jaime has been driving very well indeed. Jaime even qualifies for driver of the day in Korea, but don’t forget Buemi was close behind even after having suffered from some first lap shenanigans so don’t count the Swiss out just yet. The duo is now separated by just 2 points. Perez had a glimmer of hope to catch them but a bad weekend in Korea saw him fall back again 20 points behind Alguersuari. Barrichello – now surely in his final F1 races – nabbed some decent points but is still 18 points behind Perez and Maldonado’s DNF could have been an opportunity for Senna to close up had he not sucked so badly in Korea and Japan. After a promising start in Spa and Monza, Bruno has been quite disappointing and will need some fireworks to retain a seat for next year. What he is delivering now is simply not enough.
Man what a boring championship all around, even with our alternate WDC, all three champions are just about known already. Kovi has put his foot down and stomped the old man Trulli in the past few races, with the Lotus now properly racing cars in the back of the midfield. He finished on the lead lap in Suzuka, and beat both Saubers fair and square in Korea. Given a lap or two extra he’d had even gotten Senna as the latter’s tires had gone completely and Kovi was pulling in seconds per lap near the end. All this is very promising for TL/Caterham’s performance next year, Williams better watch out. While D’Ambrosio probably had his best race of the year in Japan starting with outqualifying Glock and a good chance to have finished ahead had he not been boned in the final pitstop; his race in Korea was probably his worst of the year. Almost 1.5 secs off Glock’s pace in quali and beaten by Ricciardo’s HRT in the race, a very bad weekend for the Belgian, who’s seat is now heating up as newly crowned WSR champion and Marussia sponsored Robert Wickens is now knocking on the door to F1. Jerome will need some very solid performances and a nice bag of sponsor money to find himself on the grid next year.
Ricciardo continues to destroy Liuzzi’s F1 career by outracing and out qualifying him already, though another one of Liuzzi’s first lap punts – apparently the nasty Italian hit a Virgin from the back and broke his front wing- saw him way behind the rest from the get go in Korea. I think it will take a miracle for Liuzzi to continue in F1 next year, as HRT are now dumping him and not the rookie for Khartikeyan to make his glorious comeback on home soil. Ricciardo is even catching up to Liuzzi in our standings, which is an impressiv efeat seeing he’s got 7 less races to his count. We won’t seeChandhok in the Lotus for the Indian GP which in a way is sad because Karun is such a great guy but unless they can’t fit the new power steering which will just make Trulli whine all weekend, the wisest move is to just give Karun a Friday drive and let Trulli do the racing. With TL’s improved performance they might even snatch a point if there’s a few DNFs up front, and it would be folly to waste such a good opportunity by putting the underwhelming Chandhok in a race seat.