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CRIKEY! Number two drivers reign supreme

Posted by Carrot on July 11, 2010 | No Comments

A podium of number two drivers, if in car number as in Hamilton’s case, or in speculated team status as with Webber and Rosberg. The 2010 British Grand Prix proved eventful and, with a great deal of off-track politics, was certainly newsworthy.

After taking Vettel in the first hundred metres, Webber led to the flag holding the charging Hamilton off on the option tyres and then controlling the race with his pace advantage until the end. After a crash, that I still maintain was his fault, in Valencia and the drama surrounding who would get the new wing after the third practice session, Webber answered any doubters in his ability in an impressive manner. He even had time and the presence of mind to engage in laconic humour on his victory radio conversation. It turns out that Vettel did indeed require the new wing, if only to give him a car advantage in his recovery drive.

The Italian and Spanish presses will already be firing up their printers to unleash a torrent of indignation at Ferrari’s race. Alonso’s penalty was over harsh as it happened. While Fernando should have given back the place immediately, the time it took Race Control to come to a very simple decision was unbelievable. What else were they doing? Listening to tales of Mansell’s golf career? I saw no other incidents under investigation, how hard is it to look at a piece of footage and notice that he gained the place after running off the track? Myself, Martin Brundle and undoubtedly yourselves took all of a couple of replays to come to this conclusion. Thirty seconds was needed to make that decision, Race Control and the stewards were incompetent in regards to their handling of this. Unfortunately for Fernando and Ferrari the safety car was then deployed which turned a penalty into a ruined race.

I must take a moment to comment on the conduct of Ferrari team principle Stefano Domenicalli. Stefano stepped into the role vacated by Jean Todt and has improved the reputation of the team immensely in the eyes of the rest of the world. He has been genial and communicative with the media and been a marked and welcome change from Todt’s cold and confrontational manner when he was in charge of the Scuderia. He needs to be left to run the team in his own way, they aren’t going to win the championship this year due to driver errors and circumstances beyond his control. Let him take the team forward. The most damaging thing the Ferrari board could do is to make him a scapegoat and remove him.

Both Williams’ came home in the points. An excellent haul and in front of their employees at their home race. It’ll certainly lift the spirit of the team and hopefully that will cause an increase in development and overall pace. Renault failed to score for the first time since the season opener, Kubica retiring with mechanical problems and Petrov suffering from having no speed. Given Petrov ultimately lost positions in the race from his grid position (given the four retirements) his future must surely be under threat. If I were Renault I’d be talking to Bruno Senna about bringing his sponsorship portfolio with him next year. Kubica’s prize money should offset any differences between the money Senna and Petrov could bring.

Mercedes had a double points finish after a disastrous couple of races. The question must surely be raised as to when they will allow Rosberg to build the team to his liking. Schumacher isn’t going to stay more than three years even if he decides to go on after this season, in Rosberg they can get a driver to build a championship winning team and stay with them for the long term.

Sauber’s race was one of extremes. Extreme performance from Kobayashi to score much needed points for the team and extreme stupidity to send de la Rosa back out with a broken rear wing. Rear wing damage is a serious matter and structures on a car aren’t there for any other reason than being integral. De la Rosa was missing an entire supporting column of his rear wing and failing to retire him was dangerous. Rear wing failures cause big accidents, we all remember the crash a few years back in testing where, I believe it was Zonta, ended up in a tunnel outside of the track.

McLaren have blinked. Their upgrades failed in the worst way possible. I’ve gone on about the McLaren development machine and how it should win this championship, but this weekend they were the first of the frontrunners to have an aborted upgrade due to lack of quality. Luckily they have two weeks until the German Grand Prix to make amends. Button’s drive from 14th on the grid was impressive given he ended up only two places behind his team mate, but surely had he gotten on top of his qualifying issues a podium would have been easy pickings. Jenson’s lack of qualifying form could end up costing him much needed points come the end of the season.

Finally I have to say I was very disappointed with the BBC’s coverage of the event. The air time given to the race was very generous and the F1 Forum actually working again was welcome, Murray Walker guesting was delightful and very informative and the BBC should try and get him on the Forum at every race he attends. My problem with it was the single minded promotion of the BRDC and their interests. I respect what the BRDC has done and continues to do, but putting people with interests in the club on TV without any illusion of balance is not something I expect from a public broadcasting company. We have lost Donington, and that’s a major blow to British motor sport. It’s great that Silverstone is improving its facilities and has a contract to ensure excellent continuity for the British Grand Prix however the loss of one of our great tracks (it’s still in bits) is something I expect to be covered by more than a simple aside in a build-up pre-tape. Another example is the opinion on the new section, former drivers with interests in the BRDC are repeating how good it is and that it improves overtaking like a mantra whilst drivers currently racing, after just finishing a grand prix distance, have their valid comments that they don’t think you can overtake at the circuit dismissed out of hand. If David Coulthard wishes to be elitist about saying only drivers can intelligently talk about on track incidents given their experience, perhaps he should defer to those who have greater experience when he’s being a pundit.

Germany in two weeks, be interesting to see what happens at Red Bull if there’s only one new part next time given Webber is now leading the championship. Remember Barrichello’s guesting on Top Gear tonight, if you can drag yourself away from the football.

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