This year sees a reworking of the Hot Rod or Hot Dog feature. Rather than looking in detail at all of the grid, we’ll be selecting drivers who we think deserve recognition for strong performances and those who, quite frankly, should be ashamed of themselves.
We’ve already done him – have a look here.
Why, why, why! Felipe! Why won’t you set our world alight? At least try to make that F2012 beautiful for a day.
Massa conspired against our better wishes, driving a distinctly indistinct race in China. He dropped a place, from 12th to 13th, despite Schumacher’s retirement and Raikkonen’s jump off that infamous cliff we’ve been hearing so much about.
His rather unusual long-run two stop strategy didn’t work, mainly because of his lack of straight line speed – a common problem of the Ferrari. It also meant that he was on the wrong condition of tyres at the wrong time, meaning he couldn’t mix it with the rest of the field when he needed to. He thus couldn’t take advantage of his experience to make the most of any mistakes and battles going on around him.
Massa still has nil points. That’s right, he is now the only driver outside of the three ‘new’ teams not to have scored a single point. Emulating the UK’s Eurovision ‘success’ is no way to drive a Ferrari.
Having completed just a handful of laps in the opening two grand prix of 2012, Romain Grosjean finally kicked his season into gear in China with a strong run to sixth. The Frenchman – who often resembles a child who has won a competition to be on the grid more than an actual F1 driver – ran a similar strategy to that of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. However, unlike the Finn, his tyres didn’t fall to bits and chuck him down the order. A late pass on Senna sealed his sixth place finish and with it his first F1 points. Let’s hope it provides a let-up in the pressure that had started to build and results in an even bigger grin.
On a similar note, has there ever been a more mismatched driver pairing than Romain and Kimi? On one side of the garage you have a surly rock and roll Finn, on the other a joyful Frenchman who may well still live at home and get his mum to wash his racesuits. Still, with Kimi having delivered points in the opening two races and Grosjean now joining the party the pairing is looking handy enough.
Bruno Senna will always carry the heavy burden of his surname (even if it’s not his actual surname) but, when things go right for the Brazilian, the Senna moniker serves to shines a brighter spotlight on him than it would on others. Two solid drives in succession have boosted his reputation significantly and put Williams in a far more positive place than they were 12 months ago. More of the same and people will already be talking about a move further up the grid; yet another inevitable consequence of that surname.
Why has one of the slowest men on the grid made it here this week? Well, it’s because in only his third race, the little Frenchman pushed his established team-mate Timo Glock a lot more than many expected – Lucas Di Grassi and Jerome D’Ambrosio take note.
Four-tenths off on Saturday (which could have been a bit closer), he set a fastest lap one-tenth more rapid, then was only 1.5 seconds behind Glock at the flag. A very assured performance for a rookie, it has to be said. But, the fact of the matter is, if this had happened further up the grid between a newbie and a veteran, we’d all be raving about it. Victim of circumstance personified.
One last mention to the Flying Finn, who gave us all some excitement – and closed the field up to keep the overtaking flowing – by attempting an ambitious two-stopper that, by the looks of things, may have started in Malaysia. It was that long a second stint.
Hanging on desperately in 2nd place, it was like watching a punch-drunk boxer taking the last few swings before ultimately, and limply, going down to the canvas. Which is exactly what Kimi’s tyres were running on by the chequered flag – they didn’t as much fall off a cliff, than basejump.
But fair play to the former champ. The so called pecking-order isn’t established yet, so why not have a go with a mental strategy? At least the fans will be entertained.