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In the rain, always bet on Button

Posted by Carrot on June 13, 2011 | No Comments

Six trips through the pit lane, including one driver through penalty, contact with his team mate and Fernando Alonso, at the very back of the field at a restart and Jenson Button was still able to come through to win the longest ever Formula 1 race. The official time of the race was just under four hours and five minutes from start to finish, the race also had six safety car periods, another record.

Button’s race was one of extremes, extreme problems with his collision with Lewis Hamilton that ultimately ended his team mate’s race and the penalty for speeding behind the safety car to extreme highs with his pace after the rain and his charge on dry tyres to pressure Sebastian Vettel into a mistake that allowed him to take victory. He was many people’s driver of the day and I won’t be going against that, it was a very impressive drive and reminds those who have doubts about his pace this year just why he was able to win a World Championship. Lewis Hamilton is not having the best time at the moment. After all the media attention from his comments in Monaco, he seems to be making rookie errors constantly. Last year he and Button went wheel to wheel in Turkey and avoided contact, whereas at the moment he’s diving for anything that looks like a gap whether or not he can make the gap. Stupid antics like this cost him the title in 2007 and he needs to be returning to the form he had last year or it’s not going to reflect well on him and he could be risking a ban for a few races.

Although Vettel will be disappointed with losing the victory, it was still a very good weekend for the team. Taking the other two steps on the podium mean they still outscored championship rivals McLaren and Ferrari and Vettel has only dropped 14 points from a maximum available so far this year. On a day when major rivals Hamilton and Alonso failed to score it’s an excellent result. Championships are won from consistent point scoring throughout the season, no-one’s going to bet against Vettel this year. Mark Webber had a great run in the second part of the race after being spun around by Hamilton. It was a great fight with Schumacher and Button for the final place on the podium.

The Mercedes GP cars came home in fourth and eleventh, with Michael Schumacher higher than Nico Rosberg which bucks the form since Schumacher returned. It was a good race from the former seven time title holder, fair and honest racing with Mark Webber towards the end of the race being a highlight for many people. Schumacher’s points put him equal with Rosberg and bring Mercedes to within eight points of main rivals Renault in the standings.

Speaking of Renault, Vitaly Petrov managed to bring the sole remaining Renault to the line in fifth position to just keep the team ahead of Mercedes. Nick Heidfeld going out to an accident that could have been much nastier than it ended up. After all the crashes we had that weekend it was the first that caused me to instantly wince whilst watching it. The front wing sliding under the floor echoing Robert Kubica’s horrendous crash at this race in 2007. Both cars seemed to have pace throughout the race, causing serious problems for faster cars out of position trying to overtake them. The current car seems to have the same ability to drive out of a corner that the 2006 had that allowed Alonso to win his second crown.

Felipe Massa was the only finisher in a Ferrari after Button and Alonso came together and left the Spaniard beached on a kerb. The Brazilian was sixth, which seems a fine finish based on his performances this year, but is a little underwhelming when you remember how fast the Scuderia had been earlier in the weekend. Ferrari were the second fastest team after Red Bull in qualifying and Massa was running as high as second at one point in the race, sixth isn’t the result they would have been hoping for. Massa was certainly a lot closer to Alonso this weekend, but it will remain to be seen if it was a return to his 2008 form or just an aberration.

Rounding out the points were Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber, just losing sixth to a DRS enabled Massa in a run to the line, both Toro Rossos with Jaime Alguersuari in eighth and Sebastien Buemi in tenth split by Rubens Barrichello in ninth in the Williams. Alguersuari made good use of starting in the pit lane to switch to a full wet set-up to beat his team mate, especially since it’s his seat in jeopardy to the Red Bull reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo.

What caused me the most annoyance at this race is the fact that we lost nearly ten laps due to race control being slow. Did we need so many reconnaissance laps at each safety car start? Did we need to run those few extra laps before the red flag went out in the first place? Ultimately it cost us the opportunity to see if Vettel could respond to Button, it cost us the chance to see if Schumacher and Kobayashi could come back at Webber and Massa. These are professional people doing the same job every week, why is it taking them longer than most fans and the media to see what’s obvious?

I think now’s a good time to acknowledge the role and commitment of the marshals at all the races we watch. They’re all volunteers doing dangerous jobs just so we can watch the best drivers in the world go wheel to wheel. My heart stopped when one marshal fell over on the tracks twice trying to clear up debris from Heidfeld’s crash and Petrov’s Renault came towards him with its brakes locked. We want as much racing as we can get, but at the same time we want everyone to be safe, it’s been 10 years since the last marshal was tragically killed, let’s not have another one.

Two weeks now until the European Grand Prix in Valencia. If there’s ever a place where we’ve needed fragile tyres, DRS and KERS it’s this place, the racing there, with the exception of Webber’s terrifying crash last year, has been snooze-worthy. Let’s hope for better, see you there.

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  • Drivers Championship 2013

    1 Kimi Raikkonen 25
    2 Fernando Alonso 18
    3 Sebastian Vettel 15
    4 Felipe Massa 12
    5 Lewis Hamilton 10
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    9 Jenson Button 2
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    2 Lotus 26
    3 Red Bull 23
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    6 McLaren 2
    7 Toro Rosso 0
    8 Sauber 0
    9 Williams 0
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    11 Caterham 0