Jenson took the win, Lewis threw a tantrum and Seb went home empty handed. Those were the big stories of today’s Australian grand prix- the race report for which can be found here– but now Badger’s casting an eye over a few other newsworthy events- namely two mega drives from a Renault and a Force India and a scary crash on lap 1.
First off Robert Kubica, who in fairness was one of the stories of the grand prix. Anyone out there pick him for the podium in their Fantasy Grand Prix predictions? If so let us know. With prediction skills like that you could win us a lot of money.
Seriously, few would have had Robert down for second place today, unless it was by dint of a lot of quicker cars not finishing. But that wasn’t the case; he was running a comfortable 3rd when Vettel had his problem, and would have been on the podium even if the young German had made the finish.
With the withdrawal of BMW and his move to a Renault team no longer the force they once were there was a real risk of Kubica becoming a forgotten man this season. The fact that he’s about as outgoing as Kimi Raikonnen on valium doesn’t help.
But that certainly wasn’t the case today, as the Pole commanded plenty of TV and F1 chat time with his skillful defensive driving and total confidence at the wheel of the Renault. Yesterday Badger called him ‘one of, if not the quickest driver outside the top 4 teams’. Today we’re making a slight amendment to that: Robert Kubica is, unquestionably, the most complete racer not driving for one of F1’s big four- and we reckon he’s probably quicker than a few of the guys in those teams too.
That’s not to take praise from Renault, who seem to have delivered a good package this year, but there’s also no doubt that Kubica takes that car to places an ordinary driver couldn’t. He’s also extremely composed under pressure: no one was going to faze him.
Of course we already knew Kubica was quick. He’s got a grand prix win under his belt and briefly looked like sneaking the title in 2008. Today’s result just solidifies his reputation. Rumours of a Ferrari drive in 2011 will only gather momentum if he keeps up this sort of form.
We can’t be sure, but Badger doesn’t recall seeing Tonio Liuzzi’s Force India once today. Maybe at the start, but with that helicopter shot you can see everyone, so that hardly counts. In racing conditions Liuzzi got zero air time.
So you’d be forgiven for not noticing the great result the Italian achieved in his Force India, coming home in 7th place. In qualifying it was his teammate, Adrian Sutil, who took the plaudits, earning the honour of being dubbed one of Badger’s ‘real stars of qualifying’. In the race however it was Tonio who caught our attention- albeit on the timing screens rather than the TV pictures. Here’s how he saw it:
“At the beginning of the race on the intermediate tyres we were struggling a little and lost a few positions but after I pitted for the dry tyres I was able to recover and stay on the race pace. Towards the end the rear tyres were going off a lot as I had been on them for a long time, but it was just enough to hold onto the position. I think it was another perfect weekend and now we can look forward to Malaysia“.
That’s two points finishes in a row for Liuzzi, who sits 9th in the championship- ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber. With test driver Paul di Resta desperate to snatch a race seat at Force India Liuzzi knows he needs to perform. He certainly did that today.
Finally, there was a big shunt on lap 1 of today’s race. Kamui Kobayashi’s front wing flew off his Sauber approaching turn 6, sending the Japanese driver in to the wall. His car continued towards the corner, getting a bit of air as it hit the kerb, and smashed in to the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi and Nico Hulkenberg’s Williams. All three drivers were out but unhurt. As you can see from the picture below the rear of Buemi’s car took a mighty whack.
The accident could have been far worse had Kobayashi’s car ended up connecting with a different part of either the Toro Rosso or the Williams. Let’s be thankful that all three are okay and will be on the grid again in Malaysia. Just a week to go until that and we can’t wait.