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Weekend of Webber

Posted by Carrot on May 9, 2010 | No Comments

We predicted Vettel. The general media predicted Vettel. People in the paddock were predicting Vettel. Webber, however, rolled up and quietly dominated the entire weekend. From taking the pole on Saturday with a better drive through the final chicane to his stroll away from the pack on Sunday afternoon the Aussie was untouchable in Spain.

He ended up 25 seconds ahead of Spain’s hero Fernando Alonso, a 25 second lead even though he would have been slowing down in case of a repeat of Vettel’s brake issue. The Red Bull update was mighty, even with an extra stop and running around for nearly 10 laps being told he couldn’t brake Vettel still managed to beat the leading member of the fourth team on the grid, Mercedes. Yes the Red Bull still seems to be fragile, but their raw speed is such that they can still finish on the podium even with a major problem, the difference is massive, the rest of the field are rightly concerned. If they add reliability to their speed, both championships are all but over.

I picked Mark Webber for the drivers’ crown at the beginning of the season, but like most I’d all but expected Vettel to go from strength to strength and be Red Bull’s sole charge for the solo honours. However Mark’s demonstrated his pure ability this weekend, shading the rest of the field and his team mate. Let’s remember he’s the only guy in the entire race who didn’t gain at least one place due to the problems or retirements of others. It’s also not the first time that Vettel’s had problems with components bolted to the suspension arms, how much of it is bad luck and how much is the way he’s driving the car?

Elsewhere on the grid Schumacher was answering his critics, including yours truly, by racing to the very limits of the car in front of him and defending his position against faster opponents. We’ll await the inevitable showdown between Schumacher and Rosberg when they both get to a track where they’re happy with their setups. Kubica again comes home with points in eight position, Petrov in the sister Renault coming home 11th, just missing the last point. Kubica is now eighth in the standings with double the number of points of ninth place man Michael Schumacher. If the rumours are to be believed, Kubica has already signed for Ferrari to take Massa’s cockpit in 2011, if they haven’t got a signature yet there will be a few teams certainly wanting to talk to the Pole. Barrichello deserves a mention due to scoring points even though he dropped out in the first session of qualifying, he gained nine places to earn two points.

We had a dry race and, just like Bahrain, it was a processional race. Although there were more breakdowns and mistakes in Spain the story was the same, problems and failures were the cause of position changes, not wheel to wheel racing. Unfortunately we may have to expect more of the same this year with the way the aerodynamics are preventing close racing. Race fans want positions to be changed on the track, races and championships being won with dramatic and full out racing. With the single pit stop system we’ve ended up with there’s no way for drivers to even use strategy to get out of mistakes. Take the situation with Button behind Schumacher, last year he would have conserved his fuel and tyres and waited for the slower car to pit before putting in qualifying level laps to try and overtake. Some people disliked that method of gaining positions, at least it added drama and tension to the race. Now we don’t have that and still do have the aerodynamic null zone behind the cars. Simple mistakes like wheel nuts dropping out of the gun or a clutch system that’s only used once in the race failing cost drivers places and they have no chance of getting them back, just ask Vettel and Button.

Now we look towards Monaco, with cars back on the track in four days time. The tight and twisty streets of the principality always provides glamour, but not a great deal of overtaking. As special as the place is the race is often processional except for changes around the pit stops, at least in the dry. With another one stop race inevitable we’re likely a week from another parade style Grand Prix, unless the weather decides to intervene, it’s pretty much the story of 2010. Remember the practise sessions are on Thursday in Monaco if you like to watch them.

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