Apologies for the somewhat delayed article this week – that’s what happens when events for your correspondent’s birthday clash with a Grand Prix weekend!
Well, that was exciting wasn’t it? While Badger is still (rightly, we feel) concerned by the seeming lack of enthusiasm for F1 in Turkey (seriously guys, it’s great – you should definitely get involved), we have to admit that those lucky enough to be in attendance got their money’s worth this year.
Although the shortest race of the year, clocking in at just under an hour and a half, the action was close, competitive and confrontational (and alliterative as well). Certainly one of the best dry weather ‘normal’ Grand Prix in a long, long time.
- Qualifying: Hamilton
- Race: Hamilton
Having qualified second and fourth respectively, Hamilton and Button found that they, being on the dirty side of the grid, were quite frankly up slack alley. Hamilton fell behind Vettel and Button behind Schumacher. Thankfully, both places were to be quickly regained, allowing the drivers to scrap with the Red Bulls. Hamilton made the best fist of it, harrying Webber for much of the first stint but, after a delay during his pit stop, found himself behind Vettel (something that actually paid off very well…). Then, on lap 41, this happened (41 seconds in for the replays) and Hamilton and Button swanned through in majesty to take the lead.
The more interesting aspect of the race (and what HRHD is most concerned with) was the scrap between the McLaren drivers after they’d passed the Red Bulls. Essentially, Button passed Hamilton around turn 12/13, followed by Hamilton forcing by into the first corner of the next lap. Button’s was more of a classic manoeuvre, whereas Hamilton’s really was a last of the late brakers run up the inside, perhaps demonstrating something of the essence of each driver. Indeed, after the race, both drivers seemed to be in deep discussions regarding what had happened but, judging from the body language at least, they remain the bestest of friends. The longer the McLaren team can foster this spirit of competition without it descending into tit for tat rivalries, the better. We at Badger, being a cynical lot, still think there’ll be tears before bed time.
Badger’s best: Hamilton
- Qualifying: Webber
- Race: Webber
Another weekend in which Webber came out on top and Vettel began to show signs of pressure. As Martin Brundle always used to say (although we can’t think of a time he’s said it recently) “in F1 you’re either giving or receiving pressure”. Vettel is definitely receiving. Out qualified by Webber on the Saturday (first to Vettel’s third), out raced on the Sunday and then coming off worse in the internal Red Bulls only collision, it really turned into a bit of a shocker of a weekend for the young German.
Now, let’s get on with chatting about that incident. Just in case you’ve had your head buried under a rock for the previous few days, this happened. Basically, Webber was defending his lead from Vettel along a straight, giving him just enough room to drive on the tarmac. Vettel then turned right, doubtless expecting Webber to move; he didn’t and carnage ensued. Now, it seemed clear that Vettel jagged into Webber but, after the race, Christian Horner kept saying that all he wanted was for his drivers to “give each other room”, seemingly a rebuff to Webber. A preference for Vettel perhaps?
Overall though, Webber certainly came out best. He finished third, showed Vettel he won’t be intimidated and increased the pressure on his young team mate. Although not what he would have hoped for, it’s not all bad for the experienced Aussie.
Badger’s best: Webber
- Qualifying: Schumacher
- Race: Schumacher
Another solid, if unspectacular race for the Mercedes team. Michael’s smiling, so it can’t be all bad, even if it does feel a bit creepy. Anyone else? Just me? Ok.
Schumacher beat Rosberg yet again over the course of the weekend, although not by that much or with a devastating display of speed. He’s certainly finding his feet, but is he as fast as he once was?
Having qualified as the third best team, Schumacher fifth and Rosberg sixth, separated by less than a tenth of a second, they would have been aiming just to maintain their positions. They would have recognised as well as anyone else that the Red Bulls and the McLarens were simply far too far ahead to even countenance trying to catch them. In that regard, they did well, each improving a place on their grid slot with Vettel’s exit to finish fourth and fifth. They were harried for much of the race by the Renault of Robert Kubica who looked as though he was faster, but just couldn’t find a way past.
Badger’s best: Schumacher
- Qualifying: Kubica
- Race: Kubica
Another weekend in which Kubica beat his team mate. If the reverse happens we might just put a big picture of Vitaly’s face with a caption underneath reading “BANG”; that’d probably send a message.
After qualifying seventh (Kubica) and ninth (Petrov), the race proved frustrating for both drivers. Kubica was quicker than the Mercedes’ in front of him but simply couldn’t get past, even in the pit stops. Petrov was having a great fight with Fernando Alonso towards the end of the race for eighth place but, during their scrap, the cars made contact and Petrov sustained a puncture, finishing fifteenth. What’s the Russian for “oh bother”? He was on for some good points and threw them away for the chance of fighting tooth and nail with Alonso. We at Badger applaud him – he was racing, sometimes bad things happen and he wasn’t afraid to have a go. Good on him.
That said, sooner or later he’s going to need to get some consistency.
Badger’s best: Kubica
- Qualifying: Massa
- Race: Massa
Quite frankly an abominable 800th Grand Prix weekend for the Ferrari team. Still 801’s a charm, no?
First of all, their star Spaniard could only muster twelfth place on the grid. Twelfth. Let’s just say that again, twelfth. It wasn’t really to do with any problems either, just the fact that he wasn’t quick enough. Massa was a bit quicker, starting from eighth, but still not great. After looking as though they were the only ones who could challenge the Red Bulls for victory in Monaco, it was a rude awakening for the team.
Massa described his race as “boring” so we won’t chat about that too much, apart from to say he finished seventh. Alonso described his race as “damage limitation” and ended by prophesying improved performances in Canada and Valencia. In terms of the team dynamic, Massa will have been pleased to beat Alonso in dry weather in a normal race, so well done to him. It’s just a shame he only beat him to seventh place.
Badger’s best: Massa
- Qualifying: Sutil
- Race: Sutil
A weekend of mixed fortunes for the team, with Sutil finishing in the points and Liuzzi missing out by three places.
Liuzzi suffered the ignominy of going out in the first part of qualifying again (China as well, in case you’d forgotten). Of course, the BBC team were loving it, as it gave them a chance to wedge the words “Paul Di Resta” into as many sentences as possible. Sutil didn’t get to Q3 this weekend, but did manage to start eleventh, so he was close (just under a tenth away).
During the race, Sutil was helped by the failure of Vettel and Petrov to finish, being promoted to ninth and Liuzzi managed to claw his way up to thirteenth. Again, it’s a case of Sutil delivering more regularly with four points finishes to Liuzzi’s three, and generally looking quicker. Indeed, both Liuzzi and Vijay Mallya, Force India’s Team Principal, said after the race they were looking at ways to help Liuzzi regain the grip he had earlier in the season, as it appears something along the way’s gone a bit wayward. While that remains an issue, we at Badger can only see the pressure increasing on the Italian.
Badger’s best: Sutil
- Qualifying: Kobayashi
- Race: Kobayashi
There’s definitely an upward trend going on at Sauber. Slight, maybe, but there nevertheless.
Kobayashi got himself into the top ten shootout for the third time this season (starting tenth), a fact that’s been overlooked somewhat. In the other car, uncle Pedro started thirteenth.
This is one of the most interesting team mate battles, as it pitches a returning old hand against a rookie driver attempting to cement his place. It’s probably good Kobayashi’s beating de la Rosa, otherwise that’d just be humiliating. He really is very slow, isn’t he? Both cars managed to get to the end of the race, finishing line astern in tenth and eleventh places, with Kobayashi claiming the last World Championship point. Indeed, through both cars finishing, the team managed to double (that’s right, double) the number of finishes they’ve managed this year. Now that the reliability has hopefully kicked in, we’ll be able to properly evaluate the respective merits of both drivers.
Definitely in Kobayashi’s favour thus far though.
Badger’s best: Kobayashi
- Qualifying: Buemi
- Race: Alguersuari
Now, if there wasn’t the availability of the internet to research what happened to the Toro Rossos, this column may well have been remarkably bereft of information, such was the paucity of television coverage.
Franz Tost, the Toro Rosso Team Principal, seems to have understood how racing works, saying that “it’s difficult to score points when you start from far back.” Yes, it is, isn’t it? Starting from fourteenth (Buemi) and sixteenth (Alguersuari) meant that scoring any points or having any meaningful impact on the race was always going to be hard. Buemi, continuing his bad luck, was clipped by Hulkenberg while trying to pass the young German and sustained a puncture. It never rains, eh Seb? That said, both he and the team seem pleased with the pace he was able to maintain with a damaged car, but finishing sixteenth is still finishing sixteenth.
Alguersuari ended up making two stops for tyres, as it didn’t cost him track position and meant he could attack the Saubers towards the end of the race. He couldn’t make any impact in terms of passing them, however, and was left to consider what might have been, finishing twelfth.
Badger’s best: Alguersuari
- Qualifying: Barrichello
- Race: Barrichello
After another underwhelming weekend for the Williams team, Sam Michael offered these words of wisdom: “for the forthcoming events, our objective will be achieving better qualifying and race performance.” Sadly, I think the other teams may also have cottoned on to this master plan as a Good Idea as well, Sam.
Barrichello started fifteenth on the grid to Hulkenberg’s seventeenth and, from then on, their races were defined by problems. Barrichello developed a problem with his anti-stall device off the start, followed by a throttle control problem later in the race. Oh for the halcyon days of Brawn…
Hulkenberg, after touching Buemi early in the race, damaged one of his front wheels, forcing an early pit stop, resulting in a very long second stint and a lot of tyre management. Not ideal.
The problem Hulkenberg’s having is that even in a naff car, Barrichello’s still beating him. Must Try Harder.
Badger’s best: Barrichello
- Qualifying: Glock
- Race: di Grassi
A very good weekend for Virgin. Best of the new teams and both cars made it to the end. We at Badger find this rather frustrating, as we were just getting up a good line in saying the car was made of things like gossamer and elves breath. Disappointing.
Glock once again out qualified di Grassi, starting twenty first and twenty third respectively. This doesn’t really tell the whole story though, as di Grassi was about 1.2 seconds off Timo’s pace. Not good enough.
Then, after getting the cars to the end, they finished in the same order, but just a touch higher up, with eighteenth for Glock and nineteenth for di Grassi. Glock’s scrap with the HRT of Senna for the first twenty or so laps was good for the viewer but presumably not where Timo wanted to be.
The most impressive result of the weekend goes to the Virgin mechanics for rebuilding di Grassi’s engine on a very very tight deadline prior to the race. Well done lads.
Badger’s best: Glock (but really the mechanics)
- Qualifying: Senna
- Race: Chandhok
A result for the team this weekend in that both cars weren’t on the final row. Senna managed to claw himself to the penultimate row! Well done to him and team, even though Chandhok was right at the back.
During the race, Senna’s ability to mix it with the Virgin of di Grassi will have encouraged all at HRT that they can push on and get to the next level. Provided they find some money down the back of the sofa, of course. Sadly though, the race ended in retirement for both drivers, Senna making it to lap 46 and Chandhok to lap 52 before both retired with fuel related issues.
Badger’s best: Senna
- Qualifying: Trulli
- Race: Kovalainen
A very disappointing end result for the Lotus team, with both drivers retiring within a lap of one another.
It’s still tight between the two drivers, but Trulli managed to best Kovalainen in qualifying, finishing three tenths and a place clear in nineteenth.
However, during the race, both cars suffered hydraulic failures. Is it just us, or are the new teams suffering a lot this year with the hydraulics? Perhaps one of our loyal readers can tell us why?
Perhaps we should write the lower teams first, as to be honest by the time we get to Lotus, your correspondent is all written out. If anyone noticed anything interesting with Lotus, let us know below.
Badger’s best: Trulli
Driver of the weekend
Hamilton. Another weekend where we feel compelled to give the race winner the coveted Hot Rod trophy, something we’re not terribly keen about. However, when you drive as well as he did all weekend then you deserve it. Simple as that.
The fact remains that Hamilton is the driver who looks like he can push his McLaren round to challenge the Red Bulls for victory, even if he is accompanied by a screaming girlfriend and some dubious looking ear gear. Seriously, don’t even get us started. First the beard, now the earrings – he’ll turn up next with a facial tattoo saying something like McLaren 4eva or whatever the kids have nowadays.