Tag: Malaysian GP

2013: Spanish GP: Race Preview

Following four flyaway races and a three week gap, this weekend Formula One heads to Barcelona for the Spanish GP. The race, which kicks off the European leg of the season, was won last year by Pastor Maldonado. It was Williams’ first win since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2004. The picture looks distinctly different this year – Sebastian Vettel has a comfortable lead in the championship, backed up by two race wins. The Bahrain GP was a case of deja vu, with Vettel winning the race ahead of Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean – an identical result to 2012.

Spanish GP Stats

Circuit Name: Circuit de Catalunya
Number of Laps: 66
Circuit Length: 4.655km
Lap Record: 1:21.670 K Räikkönen (2008)
2012 Results: 1.Pastor Maldonado 2. Fernando Alonso 3. Kimi Räikkönen

There are seven previous Spanish GP winners still on the grid: Pastor Maldonado, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Kimi Räikkönen, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.

  • For the past seven years, the Spanish GP has been won by a different driver
  • From the current grid, Kimi Räikkönen is the only driver to have won it more than once. He won it in 2008 for Ferrari and 2005 for McLaren
  • Ferrari are the most successful team at the Circuit de Catalunya with seven wins under their belt
  • The Spanish GP was first held at the Circuit de Catalunya in 1991 and so 2013 will be the 23rd running of it
  • Of the 22 races held the race winner has come from pole 18 times
  • Heikki Kovalainen will once again get behind the wheel of the Caterham for FP1
  • Alan Jones will be the driver steward this weekend

With the start of the European season generally comes a raft of significant upgrades. The Spanish GP is another one which can prove to be tough on the tyres and proves to be notoriously difficult for overtaking. There are a number of high speed corners, as well as medium and low-speed, and a long pit straight – generally a little bit of everything thrown in for drivers to contend with. Teams have a long history of testing at the circuit pre-season and so drivers all well accustomed to it come race weekend. Pirelli will bring the hard and medium compound tyres to this race. There will be two DRS zones – one between Turn 9 and Turn 10, and the other on the pit straight.

What came before?

Sebastian Vettel took a controlling victory at the Bahrain GP, ahead of Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean to produce an exact replica of the 2012 results. Paul di Resta equalled his best ever finish by bringing his Force India home in fourth while Lewis Hamilton came back from a difficult opening stint to finish fifth. While team orders came to the fore after both Red Bull and Mercedes deployed them at the Malaysian GP, they were in the spotlight again in Bahrain but for a different reason. Having been urged by Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh to get his elbows out, Sergio Perez came out all guns blazing. After failing to make the pole-position shoot out yet again, while team-mate Jenson Button slipped through, Perez revealed his car was set up for the race. The pair were involved in a spirited on-track battle which saw them bang wheels and run each other off the road. Perez eventually muscled his way through to finish sixth while Button had to make another stop and ended the day in tenth. Perez finished the race just seven tenths down on Lewis Hamilton.

Elsewhere, following his commanding win in China, Fernando Alonso had a disappointing race. A DRS problem, which saw the flap jammed open, left him having to pit two times to close it. He then spent the rest of the race having to defend and attack with no DRS available to him, and ended up finishing in eighth place. His team-mate Felipe Massa was not so lucky as to salvage points after picking up a puncture, ending the day in 15th spot. Pole sitter Nico Rosberg lost out in the race and he also made an extra stop, dropping down to finish tenth.

What’s to come?

The Spanish GP is traditionally where teams bring their first significant upgrades of the year, having spent the first four races of the year in Australia, Malaysia, China and Bahrain. So look out for an array of new parts, including front wings, sidepods, and rear wings, as teams look to maximise their car’s potential. All eyes will specifically be on McLaren as they look to pick up the pace, quite literally, after a disappointing start to the season. They currently lie sixth in the constructors’ championship, with 23 points – 86 behind championship leaders Red Bull already – and a best placed finish of fifth place. For a team who are used to winning races – they won seven in 2012 – their revolutionary car has not yet paid off. 2012 race winners Williams are another team currently in the doldrums and are looking to get their season back on track. Williams took the opportunity during the break to complete an aero test at Idiada, following which they will be bringing updates to Spain. The Spanish GP can prove to be an important race in terms of shaping the remainder of the championship.

This weekend will see teams provided with an extra set of the prototype hard tyres, with Pirelli tweaking the compound to make it more similar to 2012 in terms of durability.

 

Advertisements

2013: Malaysia Grand Prix: Race Preview

The start of a new Formula One season is relentless for teams and drivers. Not even three days after Kimi Räikkönen won the season opening Australian Grand Prix, Formula One has moved on to Malaysia ahead of this weekend’s race. Australia was dominated by talk of the weather – qualifying was rained off – and tyre wear, with the general consensus being that we still don’t know the true running order. Who can put their car on pole for this race and more importantly, win?

Malaysia GP Stats

Circuit Name: Sepang International Circuit
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.543km
Lap Record: 1:34.223 JP Montoya (2004)
2012 Results: 1.Fernando Alonso 2. Sergio Perez 3. Lewis Hamilton

There are four previous winners of the Australian GP still on the grid: Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, and Kimi Räikkönen.

  • The Malaysia Grand Prix will see Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber enter their 200th Grand Prix weekends. 
  • Current championship leader Kimi Räikkönen took his first race victory at the 2003 Malaysian GP
  • Alonso secured his first F1 pole position and podium at the 2003 Malaysian GP
  • This will be the 15th Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit
  • In 2009 half points were awarded after the race was red flagged before 75% distance had been completed – when it rains, it pours.
  • Derek Warwick will be the driver steward this weekend

Generally hot and humid, the Malaysia Grand Prix is difficult for drivers and cars with a high percentage of a lap spent at full throttle. There are a number of high speed corners and two long straights. There will be two DRS zones, one on each straight, so between Turn 15 and Turn 1 (pit straight) and one between Turn 14 and Turn 15 on the back straight.

What came before?

Red Bull looked dominant in the initial stages of the Australian Grand Prix weekend, with Sebastian Vettel going fastest in free practice one and two, before going on to lead a Red Bull front row lock out in qualifying. At the start of the race Mark Webber got bogged down, seemingly with an ECU problem, and lost out a number of places while Vettel initially kept his lead but finished the race in third. It was Lotus’ Räikkönen who won the race, making his two stop strategy work to finish ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Seven different drivers led the race, including returnee Adrian Sutil who eventually finished seventh. McLaren salvaged two points from the weekend when Jenson Button finished in ninth place. Sergio Perez finished just outside of the points in eleventh and not far away from Romain Grosjean, who did not see the same fortune as his team-mate. Nico Hulkenberg did not start the race due to a fuel problem while team-mate Esteban Gutierrez was the highest placed rookie. Jules Bianchi made people sit up and take notice when he recorded a fastest lap of the race under a tenth of a second off Vettel.

Many in the paddock regard Australia to be an anomaly due to the weather conditions that punctuated the weekend. It is thought that Malaysia could provide a much clearer picture of who is where.

What’s to come?

Instead of answering the questions posed by pre-season testing, the Australian Grand Prix has instead left a lot of unanswered questions. On the face of it, Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull all looked particularly strong, but with the cool race conditions, and Pirelli’s aggressive tyre choices (they brought super-soft) it is likely we could see things change again in Malaysia. Lotus are bringing some experimental parts for practice and McLaren will be continuing to look for pace for their beleaguered car. Mercedes looked fast at times in Australia, but Nico Rosberg eventually retired with an electronics problem. The car also looked fragile in testing, with some reliability issues, so it will be interesting to see if this becomes a common problem or will they get on top of things. Felipe Massa was fast in Australia, out qualifying his team-mate, but ultimately losing out in pit-stops.

Fernando Alonso won the race in 2012, with a quick Sergio Perez in second place who pushed him hard for the win. There is currently rain and thunderstorms forecast for the weekend, meaning we could be in for another mixed up one!

Countdown to Formula One: 2 Days!

Two

The number of rookies taking part in the 2012 Formula One season. Jean-Eric Vergne is driving for Toro Rosso while Charles Pic is driving for Marussia and, as well as both being rookies, they are two of the three Frenchmen on the grid. Both are 22 and took similar routes to F1, starting just a year apart. In 2011 there were five rookies in F1, four of which still have racing seats, while one has moved to a test driver role. Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo, Jerome d’Ambrosio, and Pastor Maldonado are the five drivers who made their debuts in 2011. Di Resta drives for the Force India team, Perez drives for Sauber, Ricciardo partners Vergne at Toro Rosso, Maldonado drives for Williams while d’Ambrosio is now the test and reserve driver for the Lotus F1 Team, after being replaced by Pic at Marussia.

Vergne started his single seater career in 2007 when he drove in the Formula Campus Renault championship before a two year stint in Formula Renault 2.0. He had a busy year in 2010 with time spent in British Formula Three, Master of Formula Three, taking part in the Macau GP, GP3 and finally the Formula Renault 3.5 series. He won the British Formula Three championship by a huge 99 points over current GP2 driver James Calado. In 2011 he took part in the Formula Renault 3.5 again as well as carrying out a test drive role for Toro Rosso. In 2012 Toro Rosso controversially dropped both Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi and Vergne was promoted to a race seat. He currently lies seventeenth in the championship with just four points, ahead of his team-mate who has two. It has been a disappointing season for Toro Rosso and Vergne has struggled in qualifying, dropping out in Q1  a number of times, but has made up places in the race – his highest finishing position being eighth in the Malaysian GP.

Pic started his single seater career in 2006 when he raced in Formula Renault Campus France, where he finished third. In 2007 he took part in Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0  and French Formula Renault 2.0 and he finished third and fourth respectively. In 2008 he moved to the Formula Renault 3.5 series where he remained for the 2009 season driving for Tech 1 Racing. In 2009 he came third and in the process beat current McLaren test driver Oliver Turvey and former Toro Rosso driver Alguersuari. He raced in GP2 from 2009 to 2011 and was invited by Marussia to take part in the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi. He impressed during the test and so was signed up to take part in the 2012 season. He has taken the fight to his more experienced team-mate Timo Glock, out-qualifying him on four occasions. His best finish has been 15th on two occasions.

Check back tomorrow to see what 1 day has in store…

Scrutineering: Kimi Räikkönen

Kimi Räikkönen, also known as ‘The Iceman’, is currently competing in his tenth season of Formula One, driving for the Lotus F1 Team having previously driven for Sauber, McLaren and Ferrari. In 2007 he won the world championship by the narrowest of margins, after coming close in 2003 and 2005. At the end of the 2009 season he was left without a drive and so turned his hand to rallying, but at the end of 2011 it was announced that he would be making a return with Lotus, partnering Romain Grosjean. He has impressed this season and currently lies fifth in the championship with five podiums –  two thirds and three seconds. Here’s a closer look at his career, his season so far and what fans think/say about the Finn.

Sauber (2001)

Räikkönen made his F1 racing debut in 2001 as he was handed a drive at Sauber, after testing with the team in 2000. Having only had 23 single seater races to his name before he started his F1 career, there were doubts cast over whether he was ready, but he proved the critics wrong with ten finishes (all in the top ten) from 17 races and four point scoring races. He finished tenth overall in the drivers’ championship.

McLaren (2002 – 2006)

Räikkönen made the move to McLaren in 2002 to partner David Coulthard when Mika Haikkinen retired. He made an improvement on his rookie season, taking four podium positions and finishing sixth overall in the standings. 2003 was a good year for the Finn as he fought Michael Schumacher for the championship, taking his first win (in Malaysia), but was beaten by two points by the end of the season. He did not enjoy the same success in 2004 due to an under-performing car, although when the ‘B-spec’ car was introduced midway through the season, he saw a marked improvement in his results and finished the season overall in seventh. During this season he took his first win at Spa, which has proved to be “hit or miss” for him ever since – he either wins or retires – and it will be interesting to see how he performs there after the summer break. In 2005 Räikkönen was Fernando Alonso’s closest competitor for the title although he finished 21 points behind the Spaniard, with retirements proving costly, particularly at Germany where he lead the race until the last lap. He did, however, take seven victories. 2006 was a lacklustre season for the Finn, finishing fifth with 65 points.

Ferrari (2007 – 2009)

Räikkönen made the move from McLaren to Ferrari for the 2007 season, where he fought with Alonso and rookie Lewis Hamilton for the title. A strong end to the season saw him bridge a 17 points gap with two races to go to win the championship, which he did in style with a victory in Brazil. In 2008 Räikkönen came third, with his team-mate Felipe Massa, taking the spotlight by challenging eventual champion Hamilton for the championship. 2009 started slowly, with major rule changes coming into effect and disrupting the order, and Räikkönen finished the season in sixth place and found himself without a drive for 2010, despite having a contract with Ferrari.

F1 Sabbatical (2010 – 2011)

He moved to WRC where he competed for the Citroen Junior team and his own Ice 1 Racing Team, taking one stage victory. He also tried his hand at NASCAR taking part in one truck race and one Nationwide series race. At the end of 2011 his return to F1 was confirmed.

Lotus (2012 –  present)

Räikkönen has had a successful return to the sport being only one of three drivers to complete every racing lap as well as taking five podiums (to Alonso’s six) and two fastest laps. He currently lies fifth in the championship, 48 points behind Alonso, and is yet to take the elusive first win, which Lotus have threatened on numerous occasions with Räikkönen and Grosjean.

What the fans like!

  • His “I was having a sh!t” quote on the grid in Brazil
  • His commercial appeal – from advertising alcohol to expensive watches, Kimi is the man!
  • Spa 2004 – started tenth, took his alternative first corner line, and won the race
  • His “what is the photocopier?” advert with Juan Pablo Montoya – genius.
  • His NASCAR radio lines – if you haven’t read them/heard them, then you must check them out here!
  • His laid back attitude towards life – no fuss
  • His cap
  • He likes James Hunt even entering a race under his name
  • The gorilla suit!!
  • Suzuka 2005 – his last lap move on Giancarlo Fisichella to win the race
  • His natural ability when racing – even with two years out he has lost no speed
  • He rented a Fiat Panda in Brazil to look inconspicuous – only Kimi…
  • He won his first ever F1 race in Malaysia on 23rd March 2003, going on to win again on the same date in 2008 for Ferrari.
  • He put in a strong performance at the Hungarian GP this year (2012), putting in fast laps when it counted, and finishing the race in second after starting fifth

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Next week’s Scrutineering features Jason Plato. Get involved by commenting, tweet me @hannahhouThe H Duct Facebook page or emailthehduct@hotmail.co.uk. Share your thoughts on Plato, his career, his season so far and your favourite memories by Tuesday 14th August 2012.

How to win a Formula One race in 2012

The 2012 Formula One season is proving to be unpredictable and incredibly difficult to call with six different winners from the first six races, not to mention ten different drivers on the podium from seven different teams. Considering only five drivers won in the whole of 2011 with Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari dominating the podium (apart from two secured by Renault) the two seasons are already incredibly contrasting even though there has only been just over a quarter of 2012. Already a number of pundits are stressing that “consistency” in a year like this is key, and that it is – Fernando Alonso has consistently scored points in every race so far and leads the championship. Lewis Hamilton is the only other driver to score at every round, but a couple of eighth place finishes and no wins, mean that he sits in fourth place and lags behind Alonso in the championship by thirteen points at this stage. But, how do you go about winning a race in this crazy season? The answer is simple: keep a low profile. Don’t believe me? The evidence is all there.

Australia
Race winner: Jenson Button

Pre-season testing as usual presented the F1 world with a number of questions about the form of the teams. Who would come out on top? Who would struggle? McLaren certainly seemed like the team to beat going into round one and they started the season with a front row lock-out in qualifying with Lewis Hamilton on pole position. All eyes were on Hamilton to take the first win of the season but it was his team-mate who availed with Sebastian Vettel rising from sixth on the grid to take second while Hamilton slipped to third. It was the right team that won, but not necessarily the expected driver.

Malaysia
Race winner: Fernando Alonso

After a strong showing in Australia, McLaren were definitely the favourites going into the Malaysian GP. The Ferrari on the other hand looked to be a real handful, despite the fact Fernando Alonso finished the Australian GP in fifth. If anyone predicted the race result for this race, well they should be playing the lottery, because that is exactly what it was.    Alonso won with Sergio Perez in second. A Ferrari and a Sauber on the top two steps of the podium, with Lewis Hamilton (who was once again the lead driver in a McLaren front row lock-out) in third. No-one saw that coming!

China 
Race winner: Nico Rosberg

For the first two rounds Mercedes looked fast in qualifying, but their race pace seemed to disappear. Fernando Alonso had won last time out, and despite the fact that Ferrari felt the damp conditions had flattered their car, there was still talk of whether or not they could do it again. McLaren were still there or there abouts with Lotus threatening to be quick, but it was Nico Rosberg who snatched pole position and lined up beside his team-mate (because of a Lewis Hamilton gearbox penalty). Rosberg went on to win the race, despite rumblings of dismissal from people who thought that once again Mercedes’ form would fade.

Bahrain
Race winner: Sebastian Vettel

With three different race winners from three races, predicting the next winner became increasingly difficult. After a win for Nico Rosberg in China he was the prime candidate to make it two wins. 2010 and 2011 world champion Sebastian Vettel was languishing a bit further down the order than he was used to and had been beaten by his team-mate in qualifying. He took a surprising pole and went on to win the race to make it four different winners from four races – not an entirely unexpected win, but not exactly the driver that had been touted for Bahrain.

Spain
Race winner: Pastor Maldonado

Lotus secured a double podium in Bahrain, with Kimi Räikkönen coming close to a race win, but not quite close enough. During free practice for the Spanish GP, Sky commentators David Croft and Anthony Davidson confidently stated that Lotus were the fastest car in terms of race pace and would be the team to beat, for sure. What happened? Pastor Maldonado took pole (after Lewis Hamilton was sent to the back of the grid) and he won the race – despite assumptions that Fernando Alonso would easily jump him and win. Räikkönen  was on the podium but it wasn’t a win.

Monaco
Race winner: Mark Webber

After his win in Spain and because he stated that Monaco was his favourite race, people were touting Pastor Maldonado for a second win of the season. Other names in the frame included Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Räikkönen, and Romain Grosjean. Red Bull had won the last two Monaco GPs but it was generally reckoned that it would probably be a Lotus or McLaren victory. Who won? Mark Webber. Grosjean and Maldonado failed to complete a lap, Hamilton slipped to fifth, and Räikkönen finished a disappointing ninth. Once again the victor was not who everyone expected.

Canada
Race winner: ???

Not long after the chequered flag fell in Monaco I saw a headline stating Jaime Alguersuari had said Lotus were the team to beat in Canada – that’s them out then. Lewis Hamilton has won twice here before (including his first ever F1 win) so he probably won’t win. Michael Schumacher has won in Canada seven times, drives car number seven, has seven world championships and this is round seven – yeah, he probably won’t win either. Red Bull’s floor was deemed to be illegal so they’re changing it – they’ll probably win amidst the controversy. Or not now that I’ve said it. Who knows?

So there you go – don’t become a ‘favourite’ for the win and it seems that you then win. Don’t get me wrong, I am not taking anything away from the six drivers who have won already. All of their wins were great in their own ways. This is just a general observation, and really a little bit of fun. The season has been thrilling so far and it would be great to see more drivers win!

The Alternative F1 Calendar – In Detail! (Part 2)

Read Part One first!

The Alternative F1 Calendar

Australian GP – Albert Park, Melbourne
Malaysian GP – Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur
Chinese GP – Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai
Spanish GP  – Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona
Monaco GP – Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo
San Marino GP – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola
Turkish GP – Istanbul Park, Istanbul
Canadian GP – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal
US GP- Long Beach, California
British GP – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone
Austrian GP – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg
German GP – Nürburgring, Nürburg/Hockenheimring, Hockenheim (alternating)
French GP – Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, Magny-Cours
Dutch GP – Circuit Park Zandvoort, Zandvoort
Belgian GP – Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Spa
Italian GP – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza
Singapore GP – Marina Bay Street Circuit,  Marina Bay
Japanese – Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka
India – Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida
Brazil –  Autódromo José Carlos Pace (Interlagos), São Paulo

Where better to start the season than at Albert Park for the Australian GP! The race has cemented itself as a fan favourite, despite the early starts for European viewers! The race has been held in Melbourne since 1996 and has featured as the season opener for all bar two years since. In 2006 it was pushed to third on the calendar due to the Commonwealth Games, while in 2010 Bahrain was given the season opener. The early morning wake up for the live action only adds to the excitement and anticipation of a new season, while the action always proves to be full of drama  – an ideal location to get things under way.

Moving on to round two and remaining with the current calendar for the Malaysian GP. This race has been on the calendar since 1999 and offers up mixed results. The race has recently been moved to a later start time, which can cause problems when the monsoons appear. Bernie Ecclestone moved the race to make it more European friendly, but we don’t mind getting up slightly earlier – do we?

It’s time for round three and it’s another familiar feature – the Chinese GP at the Shanghai International Circuit. This race has been on the calendar since 2004 and with its long straights and twisty corners, it is another which throws up unexpected results. Just a couple of weeks ago, Nico Rosberg took his first F1 victory with tyre degradation playing a key role in other drivers’ races. It was voted second best addition to the F1 calendar in the past ten years.

With two Spanish drivers currently on the grid, one of which is a two times world champion, it would be unfair not to have a Spanish GP on the calendar. The Circuit de Catalunya has been on the calendar for many many many years and is also the location for pre-season testing. With a choice between there and Valencia for the location of the Spanish GP, well it doesn’t take much to decide.

Round five features the usual glitz and glamour we are accustomed to with the annual May visit to Monte Carlo for the Monaco GP. The original tight and twisty street circuit, Monaco has been a staple on the F1 calendar for over 50 years! There are a few grandstands but a lot of people watch from their luxury yachts, from balconies of expensive hotels, and hanging off trees. The Monaco GP was voted the second most popular race which would be missed if removed from the calendar.

This is where the first diversion from the 2012 calendar comes, with round six being held at Imola for the San Marino GP. The Imola circuit is one of the few anti-clockwise circuits used in F1. Respondents to my survey voted Imola as the circuit not currently on the F1 calendar that they miss most and so it has been brought back.

Round seven features another returnee with the Turkish GP. It was voted the second best addition to the F1 calendar in the past ten years and joint second most missed off the current F1 calendar so was a natural choice for round seven. Just mention Turn 8 to any F1 fan, and they know what you’re talking about. Another anti-clockwise circuit, Istanbul Park proved popular amongst drivers (especially Felipe Massa who won it the most) and fans but was unfortunately removed from the calendar for the 2012 season.

For round eight of the championship we head across the sea to Canada for the Canadian GP. It was mentioned as a race which would be most missed if dropped from the calendar and also featured in a number of people’s top three circuits so is a must for the alternative calendar. It always provides unpredictable races and of course includes the infamous ‘Wall of Champions’. It was missing from the calendar in 2009 and was sorely missed but was restored in 2010 and has been there since!

Moving on to the US GP for round nine. America has returned to the 2012 calendar with a new race track in Austin, however, Long Beach was mentioned more than any other American circuit in the responses I received. Long Beach hosted eight F1 races in the late 70s early 80s however is now more well known as an Indycar circuit now.

Round ten on the alternative calendar will be held at Silverstone for the British GP. This was mentioned as a race which would be missed most if removed from the calendar and also ranked in a few people’s top three circuits. It hosted the first ever Formula One world championship event in 1950 and has been on the calendar permanently since 1987. The British GP was going to be moved to Donington (also mentioned as a most missed circuit), however Silverstone signed a new 17 year deal in 2009.

CONTINUE TO PART THREE

2012: Malaysian GP: Review

Fernando Alonso claimed an unexpected win at the Malaysian GP, ahead of Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton, who once again finished in third despite starting on pole. The rain hit-race finished with Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button out of the points with their team-mates in the top four. There were 22 classified finishers from the 24-car grid that started the race, with Romain Grosjean managing only one lap more than he had in Australia before spinning out into the gravel in the tricky conditions. The race started in damp conditions, with drivers on intermediate tyres, but the rain intensified and was red flagged on lap nine. After about an hour it was able to restart, and after four laps behind the safety car full racing resumed. Drivers were able to swap from full wets to intermediates before taking on slick tyres for the end of the race.

When the lights went out Hamilton was able to stay ahead of his team-mate while behind them Michael Schumacher, who had started third, lost out to Grosjean. In the process the pair touched and Schumacher was left facing the wrong way. Both Red Bulls gained to move into third and fourth position, with Alonso getting to fifth. Further back Heikki Kovalainen, who had started right at the back due to a grid penalty, was running as high as 15th place. After his early spin, Schumacher was left in the mid-field and Mercedes once again seemed to lack the pace they had shown in qualifying as his team-mate finished outside the top ten. Rosberg seemed to really struggle with pace as in the space of two laps he lost out to both Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel at the exactly same part of the track. The rain got heavier and Perez was the first to pit for full wet tyres which proved to work out well for him as it put him in an ideal position for the restart after the race was red flagged. He later put on the harder compound tyres which worked out well for him as he was much faster and catching race winner Alonso in the race. Both HRT drivers had started the race on full wets and so Narain Karthikeyan found himself in eighth. Pedro de la Rosa had not got away from the grid for the parade lap so had had to start in the pit-lane so he was not in such a good position. Karthikeyan’s good fortunes did not continue as he was involved in minor collisions with both Button and Vettel, the latter of which he was given a 20 second penalty after the race. Button had to pit due to a puncture which meant he spent the second half of the race racing from the back but could rise no higher than 14th.

The race seemed to be a tale of battle of the team-mates as six of the top ten finishers had team-mates who did not have the best time out on track. Alonso won while team-mate Felipe Massa was a disappointing 15th. Massa has found himself under increasing pressure of late, with rumours circulating he could lose his drive before the end of the season. The top two finishers signified a lose-lose situation for Massa – the winner was his team-mate, demonstrating what could be achieved with the car, and second place was Perez, a man tipped to replace Massa at Ferrari. Perez’s team-mate Kamui Kobayashi retired while Hamilton’s team-mate Button was outside the points. Hamilton had a couple of problems with his pit-stops which cost him time, however he was able to stay in third. After a collision with Karthikeyan and a puncture, Vettel did not finish in the top ten while Webber was fourth. Vettel also received three contradictory radio calls during the closing stages:

First: box, box, box, box
Second: stay out, stay out, stay out, stay out
Third: stop the car, stop the car, emergency

Vettel did, however, finish the race. Räikkönen finished in a strong fifth, while setting the fastest lap of the race en route to the chequered flag, as his team-mate Grosjean failed to finish. Bruno Senna had a great race from 13th on the grid to score points – more than all of Williams’ tally from last year – as his team-mate was unlucky once again to retire, this time with engine problems, with just a handful of laps remaining. The two Caterham drivers both finished the race along with both Marussias and both HRTs.

Despite winning the race Alonso was level headed afterwards and stated that the team were still not where they wanted to be and that nothing had changed. He has certainly proved recently that he is able to out-drive any under-performing car and this is demonstrated by the fact he is currently leading the drivers’ championship:

Championship Standings

1. Fernando Alonso 35
2. Lewis Hamilton 30
3. Jenson Button 25
4. Mark Webber 24
5. Sergio Perez 22
6. Sebastian Vettel 18
7. Kimi Räikkönen 16
8. Bruno Senna 8
9. Kamui Kobayashi 8
10. Paul di Resta 7

1. McLaren 55
2. Red Bull 42
3. Ferrari 35
4. Sauber 30
5. Lotus 16
6. Force India 9
7. Williams 8
8. Toro Rosso 6
9. Mercedes 1

The action continues in three weeks time with the Chinese GP