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F1 - KING FERNANDO - WET WEATHER WIZARD

  King Fernando’s description “the most beautiful” applied only to his miraculous win in the Malaysian Grand Prix, certainly not to his Ferrari or its handling. Regarding the latter he would have been justified in quoting Keke Rosberg after his 1984 Dallas GP win in the evil Williams FW09 Honda. As the track fell apart and great drivers in good cars came unstuck due to the abnormally bad grip conditions Keke sailed through to an unlikely victory and said that the crumbling track “made no difference to me, my car always handles like shit.” Then again, he is driving for Ferrari and the last bloke to get away with lambasting a prancing horse was the sublime Gilles Villeneuve who described the 1981 126CK as being like “a big red Cadillac.” When Alain Prost tried to suggest something similar a decade later, he was summarily sacked. “Merde”

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  Yet again Alonso was faultless, getting the maximum speed out of the Ferrari which is probably only the fifth or sixth best car in the field. His timing for his tyre stops was perfect and in the final stint on slicks his performance under immense pressure from the startling Sergio’s Sauber was evidence, if any were needed, as to why many consider him to be the most complete Grand Prix driver of this generation. Given that he started in eighth only because of a gearbox change penalty to Raikkonen in the Lotus and he was over 1.3 seconds off the pace in qualifying this was, simply put, an absolutely stunning drive that will probably be the standout of the year. If anyone betters it, then they deserve to be world champion. 

 

  If it wasn’t for a momentary lapse with just a few laps to go, that performance may have gone to Sergio Perez in the Sauber. Starting ninth, Sergio pitted early for full wets and after the deluge hit and the rest of the field changed tyres the Sauber was sitting third behind the two McLarens. This was followed by fifty-one exciting minutes of watching the world’s best drivers in the most technologically advanced cars sitting under tents on the main straight. Finally the race restarted behind the safety car but once it pulled off the rest of the pack pitted and Perez spent two glorious laps leading a Grand Prix. It was generally thought the Sauber team had cocked it up at this point but to the surprise of all Sergio rejoined behind only King Fernando with the McLarens and Red Bulls dropping slowly away.

 

 

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  Sergio closed and closed on his prey until the Ferrari stopped for slicks on lap 39 and the Sauber led another two laps. Again his pit stop sequence was slower that that of the King but yet again he set about closing down the gap, often at over a second a lap. With a handful of laps to go the gap was down to under a second and then the game changed. A radio message came out telling Sergio to be careful as “we need these points”. A worse bit of timing cannot be imagined. Nor can anything less likely to break the intense focus of a young man gunning for his first win. Needless to say, that aforementioned lapse came just a lap later, Sergio ran wide and it was game over. Even so Perez was just 2.263 seconds adrift at the flag and a dozen or so seconds ahead of the battle for third place.

 

 

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    For the second week in succession it was Hamilton and Webber brawling over the final podium spot, and just like last week it was the Hoon that held out. Despite the McLaren not showing the same superiority in the wet conditions as it has so far in qualifying. Lewis was much happier with this third place than in Australia. Mostly because Jenson the Lion tamer was back in 14th place. Jenson was the first guy to change off the wets after the pace car and would have probably been fighting with his team-mate had he not ignored the fact that Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT was, not only up in tenth place, but in the bit of track that Jenson turned in to. The result was Button rejoining again down in 21st place and no hope of points.

   Oddly enough, on lap 46 Sebastian Vettel tried a similar manoeuvre while lapping the Indian and put himself out of fourth place with a punctured left rear. On neither occasion was Narain at fault despite the dubious 20 second penalty handed to him, and Seb did his reputation no favours with his petulant outburst after the race. He is a nice enough kid when all is going well, but he needs to remember that when he fucks up, he really should just keep his mouth well and truly shut. Remember Turkey 2010 anyone?

   Over at Lotus, Kimi Raikkonen again showed that the car is only just off podium pace with a fine drive to fifth place. He would have started fifth but for that gearbox change that dropped him back to tenth on the grid. Grosjean again failed to finish but this time he had no assistance when he speared off when the heavens opened. He is quick though so when he has some luck you can expect the points to flow. Mercedes repeated their Australian performance, great in qualifying but very hungry on the tyres in the race. Third and seventh on the grid became tenth and twelfth in the race.

   At Team Willy Pastor Maldonado again lost out on a point scoring result on the last lap. Unlike Grosjean though, this time it was not Pastor’s fault as his Renault engine did it’s best Puff the Magic Dragon impersonation. Bruno Senna put a smile on the teams faces though with an excellent sixth place, scoring more points in one hit than they scored all last year. Of the others Vergne showed good pace again and claimed eighth place while the Force India’s again picked up the crumbs as others faltered.

  For full results go to;

 http://www.mmmsport.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=148&Itemid=38 

Sam Snape 

29/03/2012