The Top 5 from Yas Marina
Published 6th November 2012 - Written by Craig Norman
What a difference a week makes in Formula One. While the Badgerometer nearly blew a gasket trying to pick out 5 stories from India, all the thrills and spills from Abu Dhabi mean it’s harder to cram everything in! Can it do it though?
Did we just watch an F1 or GP2 race?
Sunday’s race was very exciting from start to finish, helped mainly by the fact there was passing up and down the field from the very start. With people out of place thanks to penalties and incidents, coupled with different tyre strategies, it was a classic in the making.
But, we can’t help but feel that the usual high standard of driving was thrown out the window this race. There was plenty of brainfade from lots of drivers – Daniel Ricciardo, Mark Webber, Felipe Massa, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, we’re looking at you all – which caused some needless accidents.
We can’t help but make comparisons to the GP2 feeder series, which has garnered a bit of a reputation for some lacklustre racecraft at times. Not that we’re complaining, it was great TV, but these are meant to be the best drivers in world. Sort it out chaps.
Quick note: The stewards got every single decision right throughout the race. Great to see.
Lewis misses out. Yet again.
You have to feel for Lewis Hamilton, whether you’re a fan or not. The guy, when he’s in the right frame of mind, is blisteringly quick, which he proved yet again over the Abu Dhabi weekend. He’s always been quick at this circuit, yet for some reason he just looked quicker than usual.
And then his McLaren stopped working. Again.
At the start of the season it would have been a frustrated figure walking back to the pits, but the Brit remained upbeat despite this. He’s in a good place right now – Mercedes contract sorted, the future, in his eyes, looks bright. He was happy and smiling all weekend, which is in stark contrast to what we’ve seen in recent weeks.
A good spirited Hamilton keeps McLaren motivated, it’s just a shame he’s off next season. Think what they could have achieved together.
Vettel gets his slice of luck
When the news broke that Sebastian Vettel would be stripped of his 3rd place on the grid, it immediately became clear that he would spend the afternoon fighting. He did just that, nabbing a quite frankly baffling podium spot, but when you look through the race events, he was very lucky indeed.
For example, the safety car periods benefited him immensely. They did for all the drivers who had a few boo-boos on the first lap – Paul Di Resta and Bruno Senna got points, and they spent the first laps either in the pits or lapping with a deflated tyre.
They didn’t have the afternoon our current champion had though. Starting from the pitlane, then a brush with the DRS board and then a new nose should have curtailed any chance of big points, but thanks to the safety cars and the fact that the Red Bull is bloody quick (we won’t use the words Vettel did on the podium) he was always in with a shout. While luck played a part, the German still had to drive the wheels off his car, which he promptly did.
Fernando’s opportunity went begging.
The scenes just before the podium spoke volumes for just how the title race is boiling over this season. While winner Kimi Raikkonen and third-placed man Sebastian Vettel were all smiles and catch-up, Fernando isolated himself from them and poured water over himself to cool down, looking sullen, and if we’re honest, defeated.
Why? Because, the chance to make a massive in-road into Vettel’s lead went begging. He started eighteen places ahead of his rival after the dust settled Saturday night, and yet when it was all over and done with on race day, they were separated only by a few seconds.
Alonso could have walked away from Yas Marina with the championship lead, but instead he was trying to rally the team to keep pushing forward. Again.
Kimi is just brilliant, isn’t he?
Kimi Raikkonen is a fan favourite in the Sett. So much so that there’s a faded poster of him on one of the walls, from his glory days at McLaren where he was blisteringly quick and exciting. That was the Kimi we got in Abu Dhabi, complete with comedy gold radio conversations. (Note to Lotus – Kimi set the fastest lap straight after the safety car period. He knows how to keep his tyres warm!)
Despite two years covered in mud and snow with World Rally cars, he still displayed a turn of pace that we all remember him for. He kept Hamilton honest throughout the early stages and, when the McLaren stuttered to a halt, he inherited the lead in such a way it was like he’d never left the sport.
Had it happened earlier in 2012 – which, looking back, it should have, in both Bahrain and maybe Hungary – we’d be talking up his title chances. As it stands, he’s out of the running, but it’s a timely reminder that if you give the Finn a fast car he knows exactly what to do with it.
Enjoy the well deserved hangover Kimi, you’ve earned it.