This year sees a reworking of the Hot Rod or Hot Dog feature. Instead of 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 covered the little Mexican’s astonishing drive to 2nd place – read all about it here!
While Michael Schumacher’s comeback took two seasons to get into gear, Kimi Raikkonen’s is already in full swing after two races. The 2007 champ was lightning fast in qualifying and would have lined up fifth – ahead of Vettel’s Red Bull and Alonso’s Ferrari – but for a gearbox-inflicted grid penalty.
During the race he climbed back from whence he came to fifth position, looking a little steadier in race conditions than he did in Australia. That suggests there’s more to come from Raikkonen, which should have pretty much every driver on the grid worried – when he’s on it and the car is working there’s pretty much no-one faster.
What’s more Kimi scored the 36th fastest race lap of his career. The Finn is third in the all-time standings, behind only Schumacher and Prost. It goes some way to explaining why Kimi is often dubbed the fastest man on the planet.
After getting dumped out of the points on the final lap of his maiden grand prix in Australia Jean-Eric Vergne bounced back with style at Sepang.
The Frenchman ‘s weekend started badly as he slipped out of qualifying in Q1, yet that’s often a good place from which to build a strong race. So it proved for Vergne, whose ace move was to remain out on inters during the first stint and make up significant ground when others stopped. He was then able to bolt new wets to his car during the red flag period whilst retaining a lofty position and from there drove with maturity well beyond his 21 years to take P8 at the flag.
Two races down and two impressive performances from Toro Rosso’s new-for-2012 line-up. Is the team’s decision to dump Seb and Jaime already bearing fruit?
Alonso is some driver. There, we said it.
He’s easy not to like – the 2007 season with McLaren, the spying scandal, the sense that he doesn’t like internal competition, but none of that should obscure the fact that he’s absolutely brilliant.
He’s been flattering the cars Ferrari have given him over the last couple of seasons and never was that highlighted more than in Malaysia on Sunday. In changing conditions he was immense. Fast, consistent and just generally brill.
He wasn’t flustered when Perez was closing him down and ended up winning a race he had no right to win. Fernando Alonso – in a nutshell.
The current status quo serves no-one. Ferrari seem to have a driver on their hands who a) isn’t as fast as his team mate, b) isn’t as fast as his rivals and c) isn’t as fast as a number of middling drivers in middling cars.
It’s difficult to say what’s happened to the baby-faced Brazilian driver – could it really be as easy as to point the finger at his crash? Has he lost his edge? Or is it just that he’s woefully out of form in one of the highest pressure sports in the world?
It’s not an easy situation for Ferrari to handle – they have experience of changing drivers part way through a season, and we wouldn’t say it worked out brilliantly. However, to leave Massa performing as he is simply isn’t an option either.
Time for Stefano Domenicali to make a decision and earn what we assume is his fairly hefty wage.
The gangly Frenchman put in another fast lap to line up in the top 10 on Saturday. Good stuff. But this form needs to carry on to Sunday or he’ll face another bad stint in F1.
Was it a case of inexperience that under-steered him into Michael Schumacher? Probably, but while everyone else was keeping it on the black stuff, Romain put it in the gravel, in a race where a real result was there for the cautious. His return to Grand Prix racing now stands at less than 5 laps, while Kimi Raikkonen has 16 points and a fastest lap in the bag.