Monday, April 5, 2010

F1 Malaysia 2010

Qualifying was an example of old school strategy versus technical strategy. In old school, the wet conditions dictated getting a qualifying lap on the books. The technical strategists looked at the weather prediction data and believed it. The weather patterns around Sepang is generally unpredictable and Ferrari and Maclaren both paid dearly for putting their faith in the data.

After the third qualifying session resumed, Webber's bold choice to use intermediate wet tires when every one else was on full wets, was another example of old school, seat of the pants racing. Webber put in an awesome qualifying lap in absolutely atrocious conditions to grab only his second career pole. Webber effort really made up for his mistakes in Australia.

The race start saw some amazing driving as Vettel made a bold move on Webber in the first corner to jump from third to first position in the first corner. But Hamilton's magnificent charge from twentieth to twelfth had me on the edge of my seat. Even more impressive was that everyone got through the first corner with no serious contact as those faster cars carved their way through the field.

The rest of the race was very enjoyable as there were plenty of fights all the way through the field. There was even some passing! Alonso was outstanding as he wrestled with a car with a down shift problem which finally overstressed the engine, causing it to expire. It always amazes me that drivers can wring so much out of a sick car. Sutil and Hamilton's fight was also worth a mention. The Force India was very quick and forced Hamilton to eventually concede there was no way past. Sutil drove perfectly even with Hamilton breathing down his neck. Redbull finally shook off the reliability monkey to finished with a well deserved one-two.

Malaysia demonstrated a couple of things. First, a dry race can be exciting. Yes, passing is definitely a problem, there's no doubt about that, but this circuit offers classic passing opportunities which a few bold drivers used to good effect. Second, there's more to racing than passing. Sometimes it's little things like the air wrench getting stuck on Webber's right front wheel which cost him two seconds in his pit stop. Other times its getting the strategy all wrong. So yes, the passing needs to be improved, but there are other reasons folks like me enjoy this sport.

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