Ok, so I didn’t make any predictions nor did you receive a foul mouthing podcast from us after the Chinese GP. After all, there was not much bashing to do except for maybe Gutierrez mistaking Sutil for a hot blonde he decided to hump from behind, and a lap before that, the Force India pair coming together.
There is clearly no love lost between Sutil and Di Resta, though Paul should probably be a bit more careful going against Adrian when the last time he was in China he glassed a rival team boss, so who knew what he’d be ready to do against his team rival.. Anyway both got away from that one fairly unscathed until Karma caught up with Sutil in the form of a rear end assault by aforementioned Mexican. Hope he didn’t bring the hot salsa!
Alonso stormed to a dominant win – the first Ferrari win in normal, dry conditions on both Saturday and Sunday in about 3 years saying much about the teams overall competitiveness in years past – Raikkonen couldn’t care less about a broken nose while Hamilton salvaged third from a charging Vettel. In any case, the podium trio was a lot more chirpy compared to 3 weeks ago in Malaysia.
Qualifying was a quite disappointing experience, with lots of dead air – Bernie will have surely taken note – because of the tyres basically dominating proceedings. With everybody frantic to save sets, and in the knowledge that the soft tyre had the durability of Vanilla Ice’s career as a rapper, q1 saw like 10 minutes of empty track, when q3 devolved into a classic 1 lap shootout which did have its merits…for the full 2 minutes that it lasted.
When the 1 lap wonderboy, polesitter in previous 2 races, defending triple WDC doesn’t bother to even try to grab pole because of the tyres, something is fundamentally wrong. Turn it however you want, it is not right nor good for f1 to have a top team believing their best chance is to skip quali to save a set of rubber instead of going for pole. Ok, it turned out Red Bull was wrong this time, but the fact they considered it their best strategy says a lot about the mindset about qualifying in 2013. Button was another one who took that call, although in his case one could argue that going oddball on strategy was his only chance of a good result keeping in mind the poor pace of his car.
Anyway on to Bahrain, F1s miserable lot of failed journos with ego’s the size of the Pulitzer they will never receive will get their chance to play real journalism as they watch Bahrainis getting tear gassed. Frankly I’m over it already. If we are brutally honest, I do not think many people, fans and personnel alike, have any interest left in Bahrain’s political situation. Should Bernie stop taking F1 to moneyladen countries to tracks with no soul, sure. Should F1 care about the political situation in the country? Let the UN handle that one to make strong objections against the inadmissible actions of a repressive government all the while continuing to monitor the situation closely without ofcourse ever bothering to do anything except send some high paid emissaries to be wined and dined…
On to the racing then. As said by Wollf and Hamilton, Bahrain will be a good acid test for Mercedes to see if they can really be an outsider for the title. The key question is whether they can get their rear tyres to survive longer than a black man in a horror movie. Contrary to China, and much like Big Dickus in Girls Gone Wild 532, this track gives a serious pounding to the rears, which has been the Merc’s biggest weakness in past years. Th high temps, nature of the corners and sandy track will make tyres yet again a key talking point of the weekend. It will also be interesting to see how the Red Bulls fare after slipping up a bit in China with some stupid pitcrew fumbles on Webbo’s car (who else) and a bad strategy call for Vettel. Are we really starting to see chinks in the Red Bull armor following the Multi21 controversy?
Ferrari will be keen to get some momentum going for Nando’s title challenge, who clearly dismissed any doubts to who was boss by convincingly outperforming Massa again. Though Massa has finally got on top of qualifying, his race pace has vanished mysteriously in the past 2 GPs, and now that Ferrari have a keen eye on the performances of Bianchi, the situation is not like last year where his seat was saved more by lack of a suitable Ferrari replacement rather than his little resurgence. With Bianchi in the wings, Massa needs to show he can be Alonso’s ideal wingman. To be that, he really should have been there with Hamilton and Raikkonen to take more points off Vettel, but his race pace was just not there as he finished behind even Button.
Raikkonen shot out of nowhere during q3 in China, and if he can keep that sort of qualifying performances up he will have eliminated Lotus’ biggest weakness since last yr having compromised races from lap 1 due to always starting 6-7th. Grosjean has not been doing the silly things he did last year, but has also shown none of his sometimes prodigal pace. Coulthard put it best in his BBC column when he said that soon Romain should start crashing in a race for us to even notice he’s there. Blaming his woes on a mysterious car issue is also not doing him any good, he should look inward, knuckle down and get back on track after the slide which really started after he tried decapitating Alonso at la Source.
Further down the grid Sutil and Di Resta will continue their war which seems to get edgier with every race, Gutierrez will continue to be eaten alive by the Hulk in a largely disappointing Sauber, Williams will continue to suck while Pastor loses his marbles having been beaten 3 races in a row by a rookie teammate. Ricciardo seems to finally be showing he’s got the goods to take Mark’s seat while Vergne should probably start fearing the Marko axe, especially if Da Costa pulls of another of his stellar performances in his first full season of WSR.
The last interesting tidbit to come out this week was Heikki Kovalainen returning to Caterham as a reserve driver in a role reversal with Van der Garde. It seems like Caterham are only now realizing that ditching an experienced hand like Kovi (and to lesser extent, Petrov) and replacing them with a rookie and a 2nd year guy from another backmarker team when you are trying to climb up the grid is not conducive to great performances. Taking back Heikki is a clear admission of the team that their current drivers don’t cut it, at least when it comes to developing a car. The distance between Pic and VDgarde suggests the Dutchman can’t cut it at all. Sure he is an F1 rookie, but he has had many years of experience in powerful machinery nonetheless and did some practice outings last year, so he is better prepared than most rookies. Anyway, should either of their drivers hit financing troubles, Heikki is now right there to slot into the seat, and that won’t help the pressure being already felt by the drivers in the Caterham team, who went from ‘we’re about to catch the midpack’ to ‘damned those Marussia’s are stomping us’. Mind you, Marussia still has the crap Cosworth to fight Caterham’s Renault with, making their season start all the more impressive.
Anyway quick prediction for Bahrain pulled out of my arse:
Go ahead and share yours below, am sure I can find a perfectly cringeworthy picture of Valentin eating da poopoo on some obscure Russian site as this year’s prize: The Wanking Webbo