Red Bull domination has grabbed the headlines, but Badger’s not just about the big boys. Time to take a look at some of the other top performers- and one very miserable Swiss bloke- from today’s Malaysian GP.
One of the most impressive performances outside the top teams came from Adrian Sutil. A stellar drive from the German was rewarded with 5th place today, ahead of both McLarens and both Ferraris. He had Lewis Hamilton staring at his gearbox for what must have seemed like an eternity, but didn’t put a foot wrong and crossed the line over just over 2 seconds clear of his old Formula 3 rival. “Faultless” was Hamilton’s post-race assessment of Sutil.
“Fifth place is a great achievement. It was always very close with Lewis just behind in the closing stages but I knew that if I didn’t make any mistakes I wouldn’t have any problems. I had to push, of course, but it was under control,” said Adrian afterwards.
So an error free race for Sutil, a man who was becoming known more for his crashes than his speed. Has he turned a corner? We’ll need a few more races to judge that, but the signs are that he’s maturing in to a very handy F1 driver.
A big hand for his team as well. Force India have now scored in all three races this season and don’t stack up badly when they’re racing the big boys. Less than 2 years ago they were the slowest cars in F1, but today they look a quick and solid operation. Lotus, Virgin and HRT can look to these guys if they need any sense of what can be achieved by a team at the back of the grid.
We sung his praises in Melbourne and if you allow us to quickly warm our vocal chords we’ll sing them again here: Robert Kubica you’re a star, keep up the good work.
That brilliant drive to second last week was always going to be hard to repeat, but Kubica did an equally admirable job in Malaysia today. 6th on the gird was actually a bit disappointing for the Pole, who would have expected to outqualify Nico Hulkenberg and Sutil. He’ll be happy with the job he did in the race though, coming home 4th behind Rosberg’s Mercedes. For a while it looked like Robert might be able to fight for a second podium in a row, but he never quite got on Nico’s tail.
Overall though he’s doing a fine job, trouncing his teammate and racking up a good haul of points. He’s currently 7th in the driver’s standings, just 9 shy of leader Massa, and Renault’s 5th spot in the constructors’ championship is entirely down to him.
A quick word for his teammate though. Vitaly Petrov has had a bit of a hard time from this reporter, but deserves praise for his dice with Lewis Hamilton in today’s race. The Russian was totally unfazed by the 2008 world champion, and his aggression showed an increasing confidence at the wheel. He does need to start getting points on the board though. If he’d scored half as many as Kubica Renault would be ahead of Mercedes in the standings, and with a higher championship placing meaning more money they quite literally can’t afford a lame duck in the car.
With Renault and Force India clearly establishing themselves as ‘best of the rest’ in 2010 you have to wonder where Williams will shake up this season. They’ve picked up points but don’t seem to have the race-pace of their midfield rivals, and at this point 7th in the constructors standings looks about their limit. Rubens Barichello had a miserable day, failing to get away at the start and spending most of his day playing catch-up.
Still it was a day his teammate Nico Hulkenberg will remember for years to come as he scored his first F1 point with 10th place. Overall though he’ll be disappointed to have finished 5 places lower than he qualified despite a few retirements in front of him. Had he made a better start a place in the top 6 was definitely up for grabs, but at least he’s broken his duck. We reckon there’s more to come from young Hulk, and hopefully today will give him the confidence to push on to better things this season.
Time to start wrapping up, but don’t worry, we’re not forgetting Toro Rosso’s impressive performance in today’s race. In fact it impressed us so much that it’s made it in to our premier race reaction feature. Be sure to have a read.
And once you’ve done that Badger would like to ask you to spare a thought for Peter Sauber and his team. Sauber is a top guy. He loves F1 but didn’t really want to return to team ownership this year, having enjoyed the last 4 seasons as a consultant to BMW. But when the German manufacturer shelved its F1 project Pete stepped in to save the team- and the many jobs at the factory- by buying them back.
The car has no sponsors, which means money must be tight. Today Pedro de la Rosa’s engine went on his installation lap meaning he didn’t even make the start. Kamui Kobayashi had done a mega job to qualify in the top 10 but his engine went too just 8 laps in and Sauber’s day was done. It had been a miserable one, but hopefully things will improve for them soon. They could hardly get much worse.