July 24, 2011
Saved by the Ring
Just when it seemed that Lewis Hamilton had hit the skids, conditions at the Nürburgring created the perfect cocktail that gave him a winning car. Hamilton drove a great race making no mistakes and pouncing on the few his adversaries made.
It was an entertaining race, with a credible three way battle with Alonso and Webber, but of the three it's pretty clear only Alonso and Hamilton have that something extra that allows them to get more out of the car than the car is supposed to give and we as fans are all thankful for the show.
Of course, had Red Bull not messed up Webber's strategy (or given him the special "make way for #1" clutch setting at the start) things may have been different.
Ferrari, had to gamble on light fuel expecting rain maybe, and on the timing for critical last stop. The only way they could pass Hamilton was to hope there was enough left in Alonso's soft Pirellis to lap faster than Ham on the primes. Close, but the Ferrari tire heat issue reared its head and when Alonso got a bad exit out of turn one from the pits, Hamilton punished him. The low fuel situation may have compromised his ability to take the fight to Mclaren in the final stages.
The cold temperature helped with tire wear, up to now a Mclaren problem, but it was also amazing not to see the track, largely clear of that "five o'clock" shadow of rolled up Pirelli we usually see and made for much better racing and passing.
Speaking of racing, I'm sure there will be much discussion of Vettel's "racing" ability: can he fight or can he only run out front? It's tempting to follow that line of thinking but the jury is still out. For sure he did not deserve a 4th place today, we don't know if he had some undisclosed issue but he was off his game, not just playing defense. Certainly that unforced error was a surprise. That's the second time he's betrayed human origins this season!
Massa lost 4th place because of a bad wheel nut but also because he took so long to get around Rosberg earlier. Button too was very much outclassed by his teammate, the retirement put him out of his misery.
So what happens now, it the championship suddenly open again? Not really but then again, ask Button about having a great start of the season only to find yourself having to push in the final races. Red Bull worries about it despite the big lead, that's why Christian Horner did the rational thing in Britain.
On a final note, how did Alonso manage to communicate to Webber he needed a ride? I'm sure the Senna photo op, gone to his nemesis, must be cheesing Hamilton off terribly! (oh relax, fanboys!) Bring on Hungary, the way races have gone since Canada, even that track may produce a better race than Valencia!
No time for usual clip, my apologies, here is one for our latin american readers and one for the BBC Cheers!