What a difference a couple of weeks has made to F1. I don’t know if it was the weather (thanks for the rain dance Australia), the circuit or whether F1 has actually improved or not….one thing is for sure that was fantastic!
All drivers started on the intermediate tyres due to the conditions. Trulli started from the pits because of hydraulic issues and both Virgin cars joined him thanks to changes made in park ferme conditions.
I think position was key to the start of this race. Webber was warned before the procession lap to line up perfectly in his grid place (keep out of the slippery paint lines). Interestingly I spotted Alonso slightly out of shape when he took up his start place and I think that may have been the reason for the Spaniard’s poor start and some of the madness that ensued!
The lights went out and the Red Bulls seemed safe enough. But no! Massa had a rocket start and got past Webber for P2. Button looked to have done well and was fighting with Alonso into turn one. The camera cut away and then whizzed back...Alonso was facing the wrong way and cars were off on the grass!
Unable to see Button in his highly controversial mirrors, Alonso simply didn’t leave enough room; McLaren and Ferrari connected…Championship leader to the back of the grid. The winners of this incident included Hamilton (up four places ), Kubica (up five) and Petrov (up six). The biggest losers were Alonso and Schumacher (who got caught up and suffered some damage).
If that isn’t enough action for you…seconds later Kobayashi collected Buemi and Hulkenberg in a incident that brought out the safety car. On a less exciting note, Trulli’s race was over before it began as the Italian was forced to retire.
So lap two, saftey car out, here are your positions:
Vettel, Massa, Webber, Kubica, Rosberg, Button, Hamilton, Sutil, Barrichello, Petrov, di la Rossa, Liuzi, Alguersuari, Senna, Kovalainen, Chandhok, Glock, Alonso, di Grassi, Schumacher.
The safety car retook to the pits on lap four and Vettel left everyone for dust. We got straight back into action though as Kubica crawled all over Webber, Hamilton closed in on Button, and Alonso passed di Grassi.
My comedy moment of the year happened at this time as well! Schumacher slotted past di Grassi…only to be re-passed on the next corner (more Schumacher struggles to follow)!
On lap six Hamilton made a move stick on his teammate to take P6. Webber overtook Massa and Rosberg and Kubica then moved up to the Brazilian.
Now, here came what arguably won Button his race. At the time it wasn’t clear whose decision it was, (we later learned it was Button himself), but the current World Champion took to the pits on only lap seven for dry tires. Was this an act of genius…or a total cock up!?
It looked to be the latter as Button slid off the track into turn one and doggedly nursed his car around.
It did look as if the McLaren tires were going off and so the team were out for Hamilton too. I want to mention Alonso at this stage. The Ferrari driver had got himself up to P13 and frankly drove his socks off today. Alonso, just one of several fantastic drives today.
Around lap 9, most of the pack darted in for dry tyres and all I wrote down was ‘mental’. I think that is the only way to describe the action.
Where did Button factor into all this then? The Brit was in P8, setting fast times and passed Kubica on lap 10 to take P7. Meanwhile the Red Bulls (who stayed out) were leading.
Another exit came when Petrov lost it and put his Renault in the gravel. Webber took to the pits around this time and unfortunately rejoined in front of Massa, only to be instantly overtaken.
Lap 12 and I have too much written down on my note pad. Okay, so it was Vettel from Button from Kubica (positions thanks to stops). Alonso was up to P9 and overtaking cars left right and centre (well…overtaking Barrichello anyway).
Webber overtook Massa, Hamilton followed the Australian through and then took him and then Webber made a mistake, held up Hamilton and the Ferrari got back through! Just to clarify, the positions went from Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren to Ferrari, McLaren Red Bull.
Meanwhile back in P13, seven-time World Champion Schumacher simply could not pass Alguersuari!
Back to the front now and Hamilton was all over Massa again. Alonso was in the background now as well having put in some mega laps. Hamilton slotted past Massa, who instantly attacked back, but the Brazilian didn’t make it and actually slowed his team mate up, allowing Webber to get back through and past Alonso! I hope this is all making sense?
OK, so now we are on lap 24. Hamilton was all over Rosberg, Webber all over Massa (the Ferrari man did not look comfortable), and Schumacher unable to get P12!
Two laps later, Schumacher finally made it through and Hamilton made a beautifal pass on Rosberg to take P4. But wait! What’s this? Vettel is off? The young German suffered a front brake failure and for the second race in a row gifted his lead to the man behind.
By lap 28 Webber had crept past Massa, who was now holding up Alonso. Di Grassi retired one lap later.
Your top 10 on lap 30 were:
Button, Kubica, Hamilton, Rosberg, Webber, Massa, Alonso, Barrichello, Liuzi, de la Rossa.
Schumacher’s day went from bad to worse when he pitted on lap 30 for new tyres. He was arguably testing the tyres to see if Rosberg would need to come in for new ones!
By lap 34, Webber and Rosberg had pitted for new tyres whilst the Ferraris stayed out.
On lap 35 Hamilton pitted for a new set whilst Button flew around on his used tyres. Now this was a very significant event. Was Button’s smooth driving helping him nurse the tyres where Hamilton could not? I think it is too early to judge this one. This race was not a normal one and both drivers had a very different time. Nevertheless, Button was doing a phenomenal job (maybe those critics will shut the **** up now?…probably not).
Lap 45 and Glock retires, whilst Massa really slows Alonso down. Of course Ferrari have ‘no team orders’ and give em’ credit they seemed to stick to it.
Those Ferraris' tyres were starting to go off now and Hamilton and Webber were really closing on Alonso. I can’t believe this, I am actually going to report on a race right down to the finish! Not just the usual "and that is how it stayed!"
Alonso comically told his team he didn’t want to hear how close the following cars were! Hamilton was now right up to the back of Alonso with better tyres. However, he couldn’t seem to get past.
On lap 55, Schumacher finally passed Alguersari and made it stick for P11. By this stage Hamilton seemed to be losing it in the cockpit, asking whose idea it was to bring him in, (pretty weird behavior, and not very professional).
With just three laps left, all of Hamilton’s hard work was ruined when a late braking Webber collected the McLaren driver and took them both off the track. Webber would need to pit and Hamilton did a great job to finish P6.
So, Button won it after a fantastic lap seven decision, Kubica followed in P2, and Massa rounded off the podium.
My drivers of the day? Button has got to be a contender, Kubica did a fantastic job for P2, I think Alonso was superb and probably could have gotten P2 if Massa hadn’t slowed him down, Hamilton was great, but lost out to a strange strategy, and Chandhok brought his HRT home.
However, I’ve got to give it to Alguersuari for holding off Schumacher for basically the whole race!
On a more serious note, this truly was a great race and I recommend you at least catch the highlights on the iplayer or something. Button made a brilliant call and boosted his confidence no end. Ferrari lead both titles, Red Bull threw away more points and McLaren are back on the map; bring on Malaysia!
1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
2 Robert Kubica Renault
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
7 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes
8 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth
9 Mark Webber RBR-Renault
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
11 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari
12 Pedro de la Rosa BMW Sauber-Ferrari
13 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth
14 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth
Ret Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth
Ret Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth
Ret Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault
Ret Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
Ret Vitaly Petrov Renault
Ret Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth
Ret Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari
Ret Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth
Ret Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari
Ret Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth
Titles top three: