After a boring start to the season at Bahrain, it was a slugfest at the Australian GP, and Jenson Button would definitely feel vindicated after a stunning win on a wet track due to a great gamble and Vettel’s reliability issues. Had Vettel not had that failure he would have won the race, but nevertheless Button showed that he is not purely dependent on very good cars to win the race and that he can also drive for victories.
His teammate had a weekend to forget and though he did manage a sixth place finish, he still was critical of McLaren’s strategy. But now he will have to forget what happened in Melbourne last week and regain composure to challenge for the win in Malaysia.
It is early in the season, but it is high time Red Bull solves all reliability issues, as Vettel can’t be the fastest man on track but still struggling to finish races. He has been vocal about the possibility of moving to Ferrari in the future, and if Red Bull wants to keep him post-2011, he needs to win the title this season.
Meanwhile, his teammate Webber tried too hard in his home grand prix. He needs to up the game and perform like Vettel’s equal rather than a No. 2 driver, and if Webber continues in his current form, Red Bull may just put Kimi in its cars, as he is already racing for them in the WRC.
Ferrari leads both titles as of now and have the best all-around car on the grid, but with team orders a thing of the past, if Massa and Alonso continue to eat points off each other then it may be a case where they will win the Constructor’s Title easily while they may yet lose out on the Driver’s Championship.
Though the relationship between Massa and Alonso has been cordial, it is still the early part of the season and once it heats up, there can be many potential clashes between the duo, both on and off the track.
Mercedes and Brawn managed to totally decimate the opposition, but now with Schumacher, a seven-time World Champion, and Rosberg, one of the brightest young talents on the grid, the team is struggling and they need to up their performance quickly. If they fail to do so they may be faster than the rest of the grid but will lag behind Ferrari, McLaren, and Red Bull. They may have a lonely season, and Schumacher may just quit once again if he is not motivated enough.
Kubica’s stunning performance may have given Renault all the inspiration in the world, and though they may not achieve the same in Malaysia, it was a very important result for the team which went through various changes towards the end of last season and a strong Renault team is always good for the sport. Vitaly Petrov has not had the perfect debut season but he needs to start performing soon or else the pay-driver stigma will hurt him badly in the future
Williams and Force India were well ahead of Sauber and Toro Rosso; but now with the emergence of Renault, it has turned into a three-way race to see is who will finish as the fifth best team in the grid.
Force India, compared to the last few seasons, has had one of its best starts ever and at times seems even quicker than Williams. If Williams continues to aim to remain a premier team, they need to do something quick, as they have not won a race since 2004, and great teams usually do not go on such a long losing streak.
Sauber have to overcome their reliability issues, and though De la Rosa did manage to finish the race, the team was not expected to do a Brawn, but was considered a dark horse. Now they are struggling to keep up with Toro Rosso, and the way things are shaping up, the Italian team may just upstage their rivals and may want to catch up with Force India, fellow back-markers during the previous seasons.
Lotus must relish racing here, as this is their home grand prix and though scoring any points will be an amazing thing for the team, especially at Sepang, so far they have proved that they are the best of the new teams. If they continue to improve they realistically have a chance to catch up with the likes of Sauber and STR before the season ends.
Virgin may not finish races as of now due to a very small fuel tank. Meanwhile, Hispanic Racing, after a disastrous start at Bahrain, have got their feet on the ground, and it is only a matter of time before they start challenging Virgin and Lotus. However, their only problem is that Lotus and Virgin have drivers with F1 experience while HRT has two rookie drivers.
Last year’s Malaysian GP was a deluge and though rain is expected this year, it should not be that bad. If it does rain, it will be amazing to see wet track specialists like Schumacher, Vettel, and Button battling each other. The F1 season has really begun, and Malaysia will once again provide an entertaining race.
Malaysian GP Top 10 Predictions
1. Sebastien Vettel
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Felipe Massa
4. Jenson Button
5. Lewis Hamilton
6. Nico Rosberg
7. Michael Schumacher
8. Mark Webber
9. Adrian Sutil
10. Vitantonio Liuzzi