Another soggy Malaysian Grand Prix is over and done with, but what were the Top 5 stories to come out of the rain clouds and puddles? Hold on tight – the Badgerometer investigates!
Leave the little guy alone, Seb.
For the entire red flag period on Sunday morning, one man grabbed most of the attention for the spot he was in – Nahrain Karthikayan. An inspired idea to dive into the pits after a single lap for wets, when the rain did come he had leapfrogged half the field to sit in an impressive tenth. If the race had been stopped there and then, the plucky Spaniards would have scored half a point.
It wasn’t to last. After the restart, Button got a little close for comfort and nudged the HRT, causing Button to lose part of his front wing. Jenson took the blame – fair, considering how far back the McLaren was heading into the corner – but he wasn’t the only World Champ to trip over Nahrain.
Sebastian Vettel got past fine, but didn’t leave enough room and ran over the HRT’s front wing. It was a mistake from both parties to be honest, but the fallout has been mad.
No-one wants to hear the words “idiot” or “bully” thrown around. They’re both racing drivers at different levels, and if Vettel had thought better he’d gone past the HRT on a straight. And let’s not forget the Indian had gone right onto the marbles to get out of his way. Would Seb do the same when he (eventually) gets lapped?
Buckets of pace, but only a point on the board
Mercedes have produced the most Jekyl and Hyde car we’ve seen in a long time. Take all the fuel out and let them loose for a single lap, and Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher are at the sharp end. But, top the tank up and send them out for 60 odd laps, and they fall to pieces. Why?
Ross Brawn and his technical team have a car that maximises the DRS system by diverting air to the front wing, making it like a rocket ship in a straight line. This is a massive benefit in practice and qualifying, where DRS is can be activated at all times, but a massive hindrance in the race, when DRS is enabled only on one, sometimes two straights – and that’s only when they’re within one second of another car. One point, thanks to Michael Schumacher’s recovery drive to 10th in Sepang, is scant reward for a productive winter.
Add to this the fact that the W03 eats tyres like smarties, and it appears Mercedes have sacrificed a lot for, in essence, little gain.
The curious case of Seb and the harder tyre
Long headline, I know, but bear with me.
The gulf between Fernando and Felipe is now massive. While one driver hauled his car to the front of the race and kept it there, another dropped like a stone through the field to last of the unlapped cars. 90 seconds apart, but it feels like an age.
Fernando is simply the most complete driver out on the gird right now. Many may not agree, and we can’t deny a large slice of luck paid part to the victory, but he had to work hard to get the car into the position during the first round of stops, plus be in the top 10 in the first place. The Ferrari had no right to be in these places, but Fernando somehow put it there.
We saw it last year too. The Spaniard is simply a force of nature when his back’s against the wall. It’s a shame this victory will be remembered for what should have happened, because what did happen was equally as special.
It’s Checo’s Time!
The most celebrated second place of all time? Maybe.
Forget all the conspiracy stories of not going for the win. Firstly, Sauber wanted the points in one of the most competitive midfields in years. The podium place gives them good exposure for much needed sponsorship, and Peter Sauber got his best result as a team boss. That’s what the radio message was all about, not some half baked notion that Ferrari wanted them to stay behind….
The main story is the rise of Sergio Perez though, despite his exuberance on chasing Alonso down. It was a star-making performance in the eyes of many fans – apart from Badger’s Jack Lamure, who had an air of “I told you so” for most of Sunday.
There was the inspired decision to be the first man on wets, which jumped him to third at the red flag. Then there was the impressive pace he put in on inters to not only reduce a 7s gap to Alonso to less than a second, but also increase a 6.3s gap to Lewis Hamilton – who isn’t exactly a slouch in the wet – to 15.5s!
What comes of this though? A Ferrari drive for the Mexican is more of a “when” than an “if” now, thanks to his links with the team’s young driver programme. Doing it this season may be a bit early, after all there’s the Fisichella example from ’09 too think about. 2013 could be the best for both Ferrari and Sauber.