Hear that? That’s the sound of the Badgerometer roaring into life, bringing you the the top 5 talking points from the Korean Grand Prix.
No resting on his laurels for Vettel
No sooner had he sealed his second consecutive title than Sebastian Vettel singularly failed to take his foot off the gas. Casual fans will see that he took the lead and romped home – indeed, that’s how all the papers are reporting it – but he was on the ball from the very get-go on Friday.
When the rain came down for first practice, who was the first man out? Yep, you guessed it. Vettel.
It was a way of bedding himself down for the weekend, but also of gaining a good knowledge of the conditions of this still brand new circuit. He wasn’t fastest, but he gained a lot more than the drivers who hid in their motor-homes gripping a cupasoup. In the end, even though he was close to being the fastest man on Saturday, it was on Sunday when he showed his prowess once more, passing Hamilton for the lead before the first lap had finished, and not looking back.
What odds for a hat-trick in 2012? Put a fiver down. Now.
Who are you, and where is Michael Schumacher?
The German great has had a pretty topsy-turvey season to say the least. A couple of cameo roles in the past few races has led to people thinking that the Red Baron might be back to challenge at the front, especially if Mercedes start producing better machinery. The only spanner in the works this weekend was old nemesis Vitaly Petrov, who unfortunately took him out.
But where was the Schumacher of old we all grew up loving to hate?
Remember Belgium 1998 and that incident with that Scottish chap in the silver car? The stern face, brushing off his boss, stomping down the pitlane? Where was that Michael Schumacher on Sunday afternoon?
Instead, all we got was a brief shrug of the shoulders and a quip of “that’s racing” before waving to the fans and a quick change into a team shirt and slacks. Disappointing.
If we’re going to get the Michael of old, we want the whole package. Imagine that Michael tussling with Lewis on and off track or, dare we say, getting in Pastor the Psycho’s face. That would be awesome television!
Webber is the new Berger
Mark Webber set the new record for third place finishes in Korea, getting his 7th of the season. He beats Jenson Button’s and Gerhard Berger’s old record of 6, set in 2004 and 1995 respectively. Quite apt really, as he’s slowly turned into a good copy of the Austrian veteran.
What Berger excelled at was being a great No.2 driver, and although it will annoy the Aussie that we’ve said this (we hope he reads Badger!) that’s what Webber needs to be right now.
A good team exists on having two great drivers. If Mark still thinks he can beat Seb, then good on him, but this season he’s not been on the same scintillating pace as his young German team mate. Looking back at Berger’s career, especially when the Austrian was Ayrton Senna’s team-mate, is what he needs to do.
Gerhard kept pushing Senna even though he could never beat him on outright pace. He was the yardstick Senna had to beat each weekend, and this pushed the Brazilian, and McLaren, onto bigger and better performances and results. If Mark is truly the team player that everyone says he is, he will need to stay as that yardstick for the rest of 2011, and all through 2012. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
12 months on…and not much has changed.
Korea came along with a bit of a damp squib last year. Inspected only a few weeks before race weekend, only just passing, and then producing a great example of how not to provide drainage to a wet Grand Prix circuit. Not forgetting criticisms on the track layout by teams and drivers too. It could only get better, right?
Well, you may have felt a bit of deja vu on Friday practice. It was wet – again – and we got another view of the poor design with Nico Rosberg spinning into Jaime Alguersuari, with the Spaniard only just leaving the pitlane!
But the worrying thing to come from the teams was that, thanks to slow development of the facilities, many of the offices were pretty much the same as they left them 12 months ago, with last year’s team stickers on doors and even rubbish left in bins. Yikes!
What’s eating Lewis Hamilton?
We’re not F1 drivers, nor have we driven at an ridiculously competitive level, but if we got pole position after a tough racing season, we’d smile. To be fair, we wouldn’t even need to think about it. It would just happen. Which makes Lewis Hamilton’s reaction after finally toppling the Red Bull domination of Saturday top spot all the more perplexing.
We all know it’s been a tough season for the Brit. He’s been the subject of many entries on the Badgerometer and has been fed in to the Scrutineering Bay more times than we’d care to admit, but Saturday was a good day for him. And he didn’t even smirk.
The ease at which Vettel passed him on the opening lap may have been a good clue to why though. It order to get to that top spot on the grid, maybe he had to work the car and tyres harder to get there, and meaning that it would affect his overall pace on race day.
So, with pole really being a poisoned chalice, maybe Lewis knew that Sunday would be damage limitation. But if Lewis knew, shouldn’t McLaren have known too?