The ‘Badgerometer’ is Badger’s regular Top 5 column, after every GP weekend we pick our five best bits and when there’s no racing action, it’s our Top 5 of whatever we fancy!
Malaysia 2011 is in the history books, and what a difference to the same race 12 months ago. Unbelievably the race stayed dry in a place infamous for monsoon conditions but it still managed plenty of twists and turns!
Was there simply too much to pick only 5 biggest talking points? Read on to find out!
We can all laugh at Hispania from time to time, but on Saturday afternoon they qualified for a Grand Prix on pure merit. Tonio Luizzi got a car that in essence is only a few weeks old within a second of Virgin, who have had plenty more pennies and plenty more weeks to get a car together. Now we’re not saying it’s an earth-shattering performance from a team we all know will be propping up the field for all of 2011, but credit needs to be handed out when due. Remember, every journey starts out with a first step, and the Spanish outfit just made theirs.
The additions of KERS and DRS may have completely divided the F1 fanbase, but can anyone really argue that they didn’t add anything to Sunday’s race? It brought excitement up and down the race order as everyone jostled for positions. The Pirelli tyres helped (they’re coming later folks!) but the added chance of getting by cars by using both helped slightly improve the show. It’s also fun to see how they help drivers who already have a knack for challenging for position like Kamui Kobayashi, who spent most of his afternoon fighting with Mark Webber to begin with then Michael Schumacher later. Also, it was good, honest, clean fun for everyone! Is this the turning point for people’s opinions?
Was that the most exciting start to a race in some time? Quick Nick jumped the field to head into the first corner in a pretty impressive 2nd place from 6th on the grid. Fellow Black Lotus Vitaly Petrov jumped to 5th from 8th. Sebastian Vettel lead into the first corner but all the action was between the McLarens and the Renaults behind him! As the race wore on the Renaults dropped back as strategy came into play, but Heidfeld was in the right place to capitalise on the scuffle further up the road between Hamilton and Alonso to be gifted 3rd place on the podium. Petrov gave us a reminder of his 2010 form by nearly leapfrogging himself back on to the track after using a rain ditch as a launch pad. Both good and bad, it’s safe to say Lotus Renault GP are definately ones to watch this year!
A few years ago Juan Pablo Montoya got handed a penalty for attempting the ridiculous and passing Michael Schumacher at this track. It seems the same panels of stewards were at Sepang on Sunday when they handed out 20-second penalties for a small clash late in the race, which only seemed to have directly affected Hamilton’s finishing place. Whatever happened to racing incidents?
We at Badger feel strongly about this, and the topic is being loaded into the Scrutineering Bay for later in the week!
There was probably one defining factor that made the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix so much more entertaining – the Pirelli tyres. Some people scoffed at the likelyhood of four-stop races, but that’s exactly what we saw from some of the front running drivers, notably Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren man did the equivalent of a “splash-and-dash” at the end of the race to stop for fresh rubber too. You have to hand it to the Italian company for throwing the mandate for a tyre company right out of the window and providing a shoddy (i.e fast-wearing, rapid grip-losing) product for F1 teams to race with as it makes for good TV. Plus, Jenson Button’s long touted ability to ge the most out of his tyres finally came into effect as he managed to leapfrog both Hamilton and Alonso to secure second.
Lotus Renault may be smugly smiling that the options now have a gold stripe on the black rubber to differentiate the compounds though…
Now we’ve had two races in 2011, how’s everyone finding the high-definition coverage? We’re big fans here at the Sett (Badger HQ), the pin-sharp images really do add a lot to the sport’s coverage. If you’re thinking about going to HD, have a read of our guide to F1 in high-definition here.