I don’t want to take anything away from the drivers. I think everyone drove very well today in Turkey, there were great performances from Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, and of course Sebastien Vettel.
However, I can’t help but come away from today’s race thinking that there is something significantly wrong with the direction Formula One has taken in 2011.
There seems to be a real split in opinion regarding these new rules and technical changes and I think today’s race helped fuel the arguments against DRS and KERS.
Whilst I have no significant problem with the degradable tyres, I must say it is irritating how much faster a man on decent tyres is. I think it should be bloody hard work for a driver on worn tyres to hold on to his position when pushed by a man on a fresher set, not impossible.
That’s just a small issue, and I can see that where the tyres are concerned it’s actually much more a case of team and driver strategy.
My real problem is the DRS and KERS systems that have been introduced in 2011. It is my understanding that these temporary speed boosts would compensate for the loss of speed in a cars dirty air. I thought that these systems would effectively even the odds and create side-by-side racing.
What has actually happened is that a driver can now cruise up behind a car in front, engage his DRS and simply breeze past the car in front (who is unable to use the system). There is next to no skill involved and contrary to many commentators excited descriptions, the manoeuvres actually look pretty boring.
It’s frustratingly hard for a man in front to cleverly hold onto his position and in my opinion we only need to ad flying tortoise shells to fully transform F1 into Mario Kart (other quality racing games are available)!
Yes, I know what your thinking… Mario Kart is great right?
The other problem with the ease at which drivers can pass is that positions chop and change so regularly that it actually becomes very confusing to keep on track of what is unfolding in front of your eyes. Of course many people would see this as very exciting and I respect their opinions; I just think it’s fabricated and confusing.
I suppose I should talk about the race now.
The start was pretty interesting actually. Fernando Alonso got off to a great start and moved up into P4, Nico Rosberg had a very sensible start and held Mark Webber off to gain P2. Meanwhile, the McLarens were squabbling with each other and found themselves battling with an out of shape Webber to add to the excitement.
Lewis Hamilton seemed to have the upper hand, but he went wide and fell behind Alonso and Button.
As the cars completed their first lap the positions were as follows:
Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher, Vitaly Petrov, Nick Heidfeld, Felipe Massa, Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta, Pastor Maldonado, Heikki Kovalainen, Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Jarno Trulli, Kamui Kobayashi, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Jerome d'Ambrosio, Narain Karthikeyan, Sergio Perez
There was some excitement on Lap 3 when Vitaly Petrov slotted past Michael Schumacher only for the two to collide when Schumacher refused to concede the place.
Schumacher was forced to pit with a damaged wing and frankly deserved it after some pretty arrogant racing.
What followed could be described as exhilarating madness, I simply wrote "stupid" in my notebook.
Mark Webber moved up to the back of Nico Rosberg deployed his DRS and cruised past into P3.
Then a few laps later Lewis Hamilton did the same to Jenson Button. Button was able to hold on though and the two were side by side through the final corners and onto the straight, Button manged to hold very well, but even this felt a little staged as 2009’s World Champion was able to pass by simply using KERS.
Next Alosno slotted past Rosberg with DRS, then a few laps later Felipe Massa used his DRS to pass Hamilton, and it all just seemed a little silly!
There was some mild excitement when Massa and Hamilton had a pit stop race, (quite literally as Massa was released side by side with the McLaren), but actually when you looked at the standings after the first few stops, very little had changed.
The top 10 were:
Button (no stop), Vettel (stopped), Webber (stopped), Alonso (stopped), Kobayashi (no stop), Rosberg (stopped), Hamilton (stopped), Massa (stopped), Alguersuari (no stop)
There were plenty of manoeuvres that followed these stops, but they all looked identical and if I’m honest added very little to the show.
I think it’s worth mentioning a great move by Jenson Button on Nico Rosberg around the outside of the final corner (unassisted by magic buttons), and I think it’s also worth giving Alonso a shout. The Ferrari man drove his ass off today and was doing well to close in on the Red Bulls.
Alonso did eventually catch Mark Webber up, but I suppose you can imagine what followed (in case you are in any doubt… an easy DRS overtake)?
There was some more mild action when McLaren struggled to fit Hamilton’s front right tyre, but the McLaren man did a good job to recover.
There really isn’t much to tell you. This isn’t because nothing happened, in fact all sorts of things happened, but it was just all too much. I found myself thinking, "He’s there? When did that happen? How did those to pass each other?"
Vettel stopped a few times and rejoined first every time and there was a slight promise of excitement when Hamilton found himself behind Button and Webber was behind Alonso. In the past we could have expected at least a spirited fight, but today we simply got a DRS drive by.
Vettel won the race and as I say there were some great drives all around. My driver of the day is unquestionably Fernando Alonso but I feel extremely short changed that I didn’t get to see him fight with Webber towards the end.
I’d love to know what other people think, but I believe that the 2011 Turkish Grand Prix really showed the significant flaws in the new rules. There were overtakes and pit stops galore, but I came away confused and pretty disappointed.
Drivers’ Championship Top Three
Constructors’ Championship Top Three
Red Bull: 148
1 Sebastian Vettel, RBR-Renault
2 Mark Webber, RBR-Renault
3 Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
4 Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes
5 Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
6 Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes
7 Nick Heidfeld, Renault
8 Vitaly Petrov, Renault
9 Sebastien Buemi, STR-Ferrari
10 Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber-Ferrari
11 Felipe Massa, Ferrari
12 Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
13 Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes
14 Sergio Perez, Sauber-Ferrari
15 Rubens Barrichello, Williams-Cosworth
16 Jaime Alguersuari, STR-Ferrari
17 Pastor Maldonado, Williams-Cosworth
18 Jarno Trulli, Lotus-Renault
19 Heikki Kovalainen, Lotus-Renault
20 Jerome d'Ambrosio, Virgin-Cosworth
21 Narain Karthikeyan, HRT-Cosworth
22 Vitantonio Liuzzi, HRT-Cosworth
Ret Paul di Resta, Force India-Mercedes
Ret Timo Glock, Virgin-Cosworth