Another top race in Shanghai at the weekend, if a little early in the morning! Here’s Badger’s top 5 from the Chinese grand prix…
The number 1 spot this week could only go to Jenson Button. Last year’s championship is looking less and less like a fluke for the McLaren driver. You can be the best racer in the world (and by that I mean Lewis Hamilton), but if you don’t have the strategic racing instinct and intellect then that talent will simply go to waste. Hamilton’s career is littered with wasted opportunities and stupid mistakes, yet throughout that time his actual racing itself has been almost unparalleled. Jenson now has two wins out of four under his belt already, and is sitting pretty on top of the drivers’ standings with 60 points, which is 10 more than his nearest rival. There’s a reason why that coveted ‘number 1’ belongs on Jenson’s car.
In at number 2, it’s got to be pit stops! Not 10, not 20, not 30, but … 69! Sixty-nine! The pit crews must have thought 2010 was going to be a breeze without all the re-fuelling malarkey. Apparently not. At the grand prix this weekend it would have been damn handy to have had a split viewing screen: one for the race track, and one for the pit lane given how much action occurred down that little stretch during the course of the race. It was slicks (for dry weather), then onto intermediates (the ones with little grooves for light rain), then back onto slicks, intermediates, more intermediates, help! Who knows, but it was brilliant to see some pit action that was genuinely exciting rather than merely for ‘hopping’ each other (as it was last year with refuelling).
Number 3 is, somewhat unusually, controversy. China had us searching for the F1 rule book, and trust us, it’s not a ‘light’ read. Think Ulysses, War & Peace, and the Lord of the Rings combined … but far less coherent and a heck of a lot less interesting. Controversy ‘No1’ came off the start line as Fernando Alonso ‘jumped’ the lights. A particularly brilliant TV replay was race director Charlie Whiting wagging his finger as he spotted Naughty Nando cheat his way to the front. Tsk tsk. Still, 4th isn’t bad for Fernando given that misdemeanor. Controversy ‘No2’ was Lewis Hamilton and all his shenanigans. Racing in the pit lane entrance? Check! Cutting across the gravel after deciding to make a last-minute pit stop? Check! Racing Vettel on the exit of the pit lane? Check! Controversy ‘No3’ was Vettel’s squeezing of Hamilton as they raced side-by-side out of the pit lane. Controversy ‘No4’ was golden boy Jenson Button and his ‘trick’ of parking the car on the hairpin just before the restart after the safety car, causing a bit of an M25-style traffic jam. Phew! What a lot of cheeky behaviour from the drivers in China!
At 4 it’s a shout out to Vitaly Petrov! The bloke may look a bit ill most of the time, and he is a Renault cash-cow, but I’m truly impressed by his 7th place at Shanghai. He started in a lowly 14th, and put in a solid, measured performance in difficult conditions. Michael Schumacher: start taking notes.
No 5, and I’m a little ashamed to say it, was the absence of Eddie Jordan (in the flesh that is). It was rather refreshing not to have to be forced to look at his eye-offendingly poor taste in clothes. Tight fitting, sweaty, pink, white jeans, oh dear Eddie. It was also so much easier to shut him up being only a booming voice from the other side of the world. Thank-you to the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. Through every ash-filled cloud there is an Eddie Jordan-free silver lining.
This week I’m a bit miffed with the safety car deployment. We all love a good old safety car period: the field gets bunched up again, there’s usually a big crash, and the little stewards come out with their brooms (seriously, who uses brooms? Are we in the 18th century?) and frantically attempt to pick up the bits of carbon fibre like Benny Hill characters! Still though, I’m a bit miffed with the trigger-happy release of the safety car in China. Oh! There’s a microscopic bit of wing on the track! Help! Deploy the safety car immediately! Over-reaction, much?