Posted by Carrot on June 27, 2010 | No Comments
Sebastian Vettel led lights to flag to record an impressive victory that set the tone for the rest of the day. Only the fastest lap eluded the German today, something that even he with his love of ticking the boxes won’t mind that much. McLaren were unable to overcome the raw pace of the Red Bull on a circuit where overtaking is notoriously difficult in a race heavily shaken up by Webber’s crash.
Even though the Red Bull team saw McLaren increase their lead in the constructors’ championship, they can’t be too unhappy with the result where Vettel brought himslef back into contention for the drivers’ laurels. The drive through penalty for Hamilton gave Vettel the space to preserve his tyres and save fuel and the final charge from the Englishman was easily answered by the German.
Even though he recorded the fastest lap, Jenson Button’s race in the sister McLaren was unimpressive. Stuck behind Kobayashi’s BMW Sauber he was unable to make anything more than token attempts at passing and taking up the charge to Vettel after Hamilton’s penalty. In contrast Barrichello’s fourth place was a massive boost for the under-performing Williams team, his team mate Hulkenberg was unlucky to be forced to retire with technical problems. The points lift Williams well clear of Toro Rosso into a comfortable seventh place in the championship table.
Kubica brought his Renault home fifth to record another strong points finish. Renault are beginning to close up on Mercedes GP in the championship and, given their current form, could easily overhaul them to take fourth in the standings come the end of the season. It was Kubica’s eighth successive points finish of the year, only the season opener in Bahrain denying him a top ten finish.
Sutil drove a relatively anonymous race to net more points in sixth. Force India are in a lonely sixth spot in the championship having more than double the points of Williams in seventh and with Renault in fifth having more than double the points of Vijay Mallya’s team. His team mate Liuzzi was stuck chasing Rosberg’s Mercedes home in thirteenth.
Driver of the day, Kamui Kobayashi recorded a wonderful seventh place. Managing to overtake on the notoriously difficult streets of Valencia he overtook two cars in the closing laps after running in a solid third for much of the race. That drive has all but guaranteed him a drive for next year. His team mate also scored a point in tenth, moving BMW Sauber closer to Toro Rosso in the table. A belated start to the season for the Swiss concern, new technical director James Key seems to be making his presence felt on the basis of Kobayashi’s race pace.
Buemi had another impressive drive to take eighth, he seems to run his own races quietly but is now bringing home consistent points. Surely he’s eyeing up an empty cockpit in the main Red Bull team in a couple of years. Behind him was double world champion Fernando Alonso who lost out in a big way to the safety car and then spent most of the rest of the day acting like a radio DJ decrying England’s disallowed goal. While his comments may have elements of truth to them, he should be concentrating on racing and leaving the talk until after the race. A simple, and single, message expressing his displeasure with Hamilton’s conduct and the time it took the stewards to make a decision would have sufficed.
And now the inevitable analysis of the Webber/Kovalainen crash, are you ready for this? It was Mark Webber’s fault. He drove into the back of the Lotus, Kovalainen didn’t reverse into him. It is as simple as that. People can go on as much as they like about closing speeds, a second tier on the grid and the safety questions about moveable rear wings next year (although the safety questions about the moveable bodywork next year are justified) but the fact remains that Kovalainen was legally racing and Webber hit the back of him. Kovalainen wasn’t weaving, he didn’t make two moves off the racing line and he braked in his normal way coming up to the corner in question. Webber should have been aware of the performance difference or his team should have told him, Lotus Racing, Heikki Kovalainen and Mike Gascoyne did everything correctly and legally. The ultimate truth is that it is the responsibility of the overtaking driver not to run into the back of the driver in front under braking, whether that’s from out-braking yourself into a corner or not braking early enough. Points about the difference in lap time do not apply, similar differences occur in changeable conditions when some drivers are on inters and some on slicks, and they manage to overtake fine then.
We’re all glad, of course, that Mark was OK after the crash and praise must be placed at the feet of Spanky Mosley for using his dictatorial powers in the right way and relentlessly improving safety standards after the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994. While none of us like drivers crashing in such a dangerous manner, we’re all glad that drivers can now walk away from such terrible crashes. Webber took three big hits in that accident, a frontal impact into the rear of the Lotus, a roll bar impact on landing after the flip and a heavy side impact into the tyre wall. The fact that a car can take such force and still protect a driver is a very good thing and should lead to move advances in crash technology.
I mentioned earlier that Alonso’s radio messages had an element of truth, and that’s correct. It took a simple slow-mo of the helicopter footage to see that Hamilton was in the wrong and that some sort of penalty was in order. Alonso, myself and the majority of the Italian and Spanish press come tomorrow morning aren’t going to understand why it took so long to begin an investigation and then why it took so long to issue the drive through sanction. Another problem I found with race control was with the issuing of blue flags. I was watching on the BBC, so obviously there was a lot of onboard footage with Lewis Hamilton, and at one point the back markers he was trying to pass went through six blue flags that I could count. Would someone like to tell me what happened to the rule that you could pass three before getting a penalty? This is the second race in a row where there have been noticeable problems with the blue flags and I’m quite sure it’ll have been the same for all the cars on the lead lap. If the FIA do want to get rid of them, then they should do so, not take their time in deploying them and failing to enforce the sporting regulations when they are ignored.
Finally there were yet more problems with the BBC’s F1 Forum today, a technical issue meant it was cancelled without a word after an hour of signs saying there was a temporary fault and that it would be coming soon. This is the second race in a row where this has happened and it’s very disappointing, particularly to those of us with temperamental internet connections as the Forum cannot be downloaded unlike the majority of the programmes on the BBC’s iPlayer. It’s less than the fans deserve, but is unfortunately what they’re coming to expect from the coverage by the BBC.