Monday, November 15, 2010

F1 Abu Dhabi 2010

At 23, Vettel is the youngest F1 champion ever and he totally deserves it. He proved he is the real deal in the last few races. His commitment never wavered following the disappointing engine failure in Korea. Sure, there's been a few times this season that I've doubted that he was ready to be world champion, but he scored the points when it counted at the end of the season.

In contrast, Webber has been off balance since his mistake in Korea. He was always my favourite to the win title. He is an old school driver who built his career without the help of driver development programs and other support systems. But the job of driving a race car is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. There's no doubt that he has the driving skill to be a champion but he needs to work on his mindset before it will happen. His mindset will be crucial next season when he has a world champion for a team mate. Webber's feeling that he is being treated unequally, will only grow stronger, unless he is mentally prepared to deal with Vettel.

Race strategy played an important role in the final race and possibly cost Alonso the title. While this may seem unfair to people unfamiliar with the sport, the fact is motor racing is a team sport. The decisions made by the race engineers on the pit wall, by the race strategists at the team's HQ, by the car designer, all play a part in the outcome. There are so many options and permutations that the real surprise they get the strategy right most of the time, not that they got it wrong this time.

Alonso's title hopes might have been saved if it was easier to pass in F1. Considering he was stuck behind a midfield Renault that was driven by the rookie Petrov, the more experienced Alonso should have been able to find a way past. The track layout is partly to blame (why are drivers not consulted about the track design?) but the main problem is that following another F1 car closely is extremely difficult. Next year, we'll see if KERS and a driver controlled rear wing will change anything.

Petrov deserves kudos for driving a faultless race even while under extreme pressure from Alonso. Petrov is driving to keep his ride at Renault next year and he has certainly stepped up to prove he is worthy. I wonder if it was enough to impress the bosses at Renault.

And so ends the best Formula 1 season in my memory. In some ways, I'm sad that it's over but I take solace in the fact it starts all over again in less than sixteen weeks. It will be hard to top this season, though.

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