Can you believe it? Two races done and dusted already – over 10% of the season done. It’s gone pretty quickly eh? Well, not for everyone. In fact, some in the paddock may well be pacing their garages and looking anxiously at over-sized sponsor watches. Indeed after just 114 laps in the southern hemisphere, one or two chefs in the F1 kitchen will be feeling the heat.
2012 was a good year for Fernando – relatively speaking. Given a dog of a car, he developed it into a race winner, thrashing his team-mate in the process – and almost taking what would have been a highly deserved/popular world title. However, that didn’t happen and it only took a look into the spaniard’s brow laden eyes after the chequered flag in Brazil to see how utterly devastated he was to miss out on a third world championship.
This year, despite a much better car than last year, he has been out qualified by a resurgent Feliepe Massa – in fact if Massa qualifies ahead of Alonso in China, it will be the first time a team mate of Nando’s has out qualified him 6 times in a row. He made a rare unforced error in Malaysia, which combined with a poor call by Ferrari – leaving him running with a badly broken front wing – led to the Asturian crashing out. He is already 22 points behind Vettel already and will need to start making big inroads into that lead sharpish.
Oh Pastor. Oh Williams. Why do you test us so? After an impressive if inconsistent 2012 – 2013 has been much more consistent for the Venezuelan, if not slightly less impressive – after ending both races in the gravel in a car that has been described, twice now, as “undrivable”. There will be a profound amount of head-scratching happening in Grove, especially after what appeared to be a very positive pre-season.
This has been compounded by a number of high profile departures at Williams over the winter, and the sad passing of Lady Virginia Williams – new deputy team principle Claire Williams may have a baptism of fire if she is turn around the fortunes of the once great team.
In Pastor’s case, there is one other slightly worrying consideration. With the recent passing of former Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, Pastor’s backing from the state-run Venezuelan tourism board and state-owned oil company PDVSA – may now be at risk.
Much like Williams, there was a bit of a buzz around McLaren at the start of the year. A snazzy online launch. A new exciting young driver and initially promising testing times led many, including this badger, to believe that 2013 might be McLaren’s year.
Er… no. There were clear warning at final pre-season test in Barcelona, with Jenson Button commenting that the team didn’t understand the car. This has since backed up in Melbourne and Sepang, with both the brit and plucky young mexican Sergio Perez obtaining two 9th places between them.
Speaking of Sergio Perez – remember that exciting young rookie that chased down Fernando Alonso in Malaysia? What happened to him? The man McLaren have signed has been totally anonymous during the first two races. Maybe it’s his new haircut?
It’s tempting to feel a little bit of sympathy for Max. Whilst he has undoubtably generated a great deal of income for Marussia, he is hardly the first driver to do so – and not the first of that bunch to find it slightly harder than anticipated when they finally go wheel-to-wheel with the motor-racing elite.
With Luiz Razia as a team-mate, Max would have faced a stern, but achievable test to prove his ability in like-for-like machinery. With Ferrari protégé Jules Bianchi however, Max might be well and truly dominated throughout the season.
As if to highlight this point, Max finished last in Malaysia… a lap behind his team mate. Ouch.
Do you agree? Disagree? Can you think of other drivers who are feeling the heat?