The Saubers were found to have been in breach of some finickity regulations regarding their rear wings. This led to both being disqualified, so, sadly, Perez did not get his deserved points finish. However, this did mean the Briton Paul di Resta scored a 10th place and 1 point in his first ever race.
There was musing from some that KERS would matter more for Malaysia, and a suggestions that the Red Bulls would need to sort out their heating issues and fit the system to do well.
In a new and presumably regular feature, Brundle’s done a brief but informative analysis video of the Australian GP. Well worth a look: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/9437681.stm
Well, I didn’t see that coming. My view, after P1 and P2, was that Red Bull were a dead cert to take pole, and that, as such, Webber was too long, especially given his previous poles at the circuit. So, I tipped him at 4.3.
But, qualifying was very different to expectations. In Q2 and Q3 both McLarens were very, very competitive, and really challenged for pole. It looked as if Hamilton was to cause an upset, and at the last moment was himself beaten by a perfect lap from Vettel.
The margins were very tight, and the pole-sitter regularly fails to win or to even enter the first corner in the lead. The start tomorrow will be phenomenally exciting. The heat may play havoc with Red Bull’s KERS, tyre degradation will be high and there’s the possibility for showers (though earlier forecasts indicated these may not occur and may be light).
The dominant Red Bulls and McLarens are followed by the substantial slower Renaults and Ferraris, with Rosberg 9th and Kobayashi 10th. For anyone but the top four to get a podium spot will be dependent on either reliability issues or extra pit stops (due to degradation and/or changeable weather).
In betting terms, a good race. I tipped No Safety Car at 2.52 (it actually went as long as 2.9 or 3 pre-race) and it came off. My reasoning was that Malaysia has had very few safety cars, just 2 races from 11 (including today’s) feature such an occurrence, and the weather forecasts were for light showers (which is what we ended up getting). For those interested, I use http://www.weather-forecast.com/ and http://www.wunderground.com/ when considering race and qualifying weather.
My decision was heavily influenced by a handy article (http://www.formula1.com/news/features/2011/4/11891.html) on the official F1 website, and I intend to look at a similar bet in Hungary. If you backed both the single qualifying and single race tips then you’d be ahead overall (hedging made no difference as Webber never got to short enough odds and I did not advocate hedging the race bet).
Now, to the race itself. The start was electrifying, and provided useful confirmation of a few things seen in Australia, but which required a second race to prove were not simply flukes. The Renaults take off like bloody rockets, Vettel had a good start and so did Schumacher. Webber’s dire start was due to a combination of a long opening straight and his total lack of KERS due to a reliability failing.
There was plenty of overtaking and the numerous pit stops made it sometimes difficult to tell who was where precisely. Button will be thrilled with a deserved second after Hamilton suffered first a slow pit stop and then poor pace, and then needed another pit stop.
Webber had a topsy-turvy day of good and bad luck. First his KERS failed and he got passed by every man and his dog on the opening straight. But, he managed to fight back, after a prolonged duel with Kobayashi, and get himself into a decent position. Then Alonso attempted to break the laws of physics and instead broke his own front wing, necessitating pit stops for both himself and Hamilton. But for that, Alonso could’ve gotten the third podium spot.
Vettel’s KERS also broke, midway through the race, but somehow he managed to stay competitive and maintained a small but comfortable lead over Button in the latter stages.
The race saw the McLarens and Red Bulls fairly evenly matched for pace, with Vettel’s blistering first few laps providing him with a lead that ultimately meant Button had no chance to overtake him at the end. The Renaults were competitive in the race itself, though their qualifying pace seems to paint them as merely the leading midfield team. They scored a second consecutive 3rd, although Petrov failed to finish after his efforts at flight proved unsuccessful.
Ferrari ended up with 5th and 6th, though it could have been 3rd and 6th. Excepting his inept attempt to pass Hamilton (which he was certain to do, given time) Alonso drove a very good race. The car really isn’t fast enough but the drivers seem to be punching above their weight. If Ferrari can get a grip and produce some upgrades Alonso could yet be a title contender. [Although that would require someone to beat Vettel, at some point].
The tyres did indeed degrade faster than in Australia, with most drivers (barring those afflicted with accidents) opting for 3 stops, but Webber needed 4. I cannot see him having a realistic shot at the championship if this continues. In the colder than expected Australia, a part-time street circuit, he needed to stop 1 more time than Vettel, and the same happened in the hot, humid, purpose-built racetrack in Malaysia. It’s early days, but he cannot give his team mate 20 seconds plus every race and hope to win.
The next race is in China, which is tasty for McLaren. It’s also just a week away, minimising any opportunity for upgrades and redesigns.
The Red Bull KERS needs work. It failed pre-race for Webber and mid-race for Vettel, who drove brilliantly to offset any loss in pace. This could compromise the team and drivers if they can’t get it sorted, especially as China has a bloody big straight.
Renault are rubbish at qualifying but tasty in the race, especially at the start. This ought to be remembered for future races.
The Williams has, I think, a 0% completion rate. I’ll try to remember to check the lay odds of being classified, and likewise for HRT.
I imagine China will be broadly similar to Malaysia in terms of qualifying and race pace and the overall result. It’s got a super long straight and occasionally rains, though I’ll check the weather forecast nearer the time (we still have sod all idea about Pirelli wets and intermediates in terms of both grip and durability). Unfortunately P3 is from 4am to 5am and qualifying starts at 7am, so I’m not sure if I’ll offer any qualifying tips.