Vettel wins 2012 F1 Indian Grand Prix – it never looked in doubt – now a two driver race to the championship

Vettel delivered his first fourth victory in a row, underlining my contention in these pages that he has upped his game to a new level.

The Red Bulls were the class of the field, and looked solid for a one-two until Webber’s KERS started acting up, and Alonso got by him with about ten laps to go.

The first few laps saw Alonso wiggle past the McLarens, principally on the strength of the superior straight-line speed of the Ferrari.

The McLarens bandied about, eventually Lewis finishing in front, but failing to reel in and past Webber for the final podium.

The race was boring!

It was particularly tedious seeing Kimi stuck behind a slower Filipe, except of the power straights where the Ferrari was the class of the field.

Kimi’s 2012 title bid would now require three victories and three DNFs for both Vettel and Alonso ,and despite the heroics of 2007, this seems too long to be reality for 2012.

Also painful, and again I mention the fact that I am NOT the biggest Michael Schumacher fan, his trundling around at the back of the grid, then receiving reprimands for not observing waved blue flags, and letting lappers past, seemed very harsh to me, though perhaps not too harsh in light of all of the antics of his career.  Yet I would be fine for not having witnessed it.

So we have a two horse, or more accurately, a one bull, on one horse race to the finish.  Alonso, raised not too far off from Pamplona, ought to know more than most about the running of the bulls; if you can’t out run them, and let’s face it, very few can, then get out of the way, or get gored.

So the Ferrari capital Butteri, the Italian talk on the radio is amusing, but who is kidding who, it is one of the easiest languages to understand, knows the challenge he is faced with.

While brave, I must say that the comments in the media, setting up some pillows where he might be reasonably expected to land, not having been ‘given wings to fly’, about ‘losing to Newey’s car’, lowers him in my opinion.  Everyone who knows about these things already knows about the superlatives of Adrian Newey’s design talent, yet Ferrari, with the aforementioned MS, shot down Newy designed cars for years to win championships; so it would be much more reflective of Alonso’s team captaincy and capability, if he refrained from making such obvious excuses for not winning; sounds more like whining.  Nonetheless, Alonso is the guy keeping this whole great, exciting season, still exciting, with just three races to go.

As for Vettel, he’ll likely keep on doing what he does best, winning pole, and managing the race from the front; I must say, I really enjoyed it better, when he was scrapping valiantly forward from the mid-field, but in doing so, it is my opinion that he has already earned his position in the field, as it stands now; way to go Sebastian, you made a believer out of me this year.  I’d like to see you in the same car as Alonso, on neutral turf, and I have a strong feeling that you would do just fine.

2012 Indian F1 Grand Prix Practice Analysis – not much changed

Sebastian Vettel leads, followed closely by team mate Mark Webber, and then… the rest brawl over the scraps.

It was actually Jenson who got closest to Vettel in the first practice, at only, 0.310 seconds back.  But by the end of the fast laps in the second session, Webber was 0.118 back in second, and the next fastest driver was Alonso, at a whopping 0.599 off Vettel’s pace!

Good news, some anyhow, for those duking it out behind the Bulls, race pace is similar for all of Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus, and even Mercedes.  Also, Alonso hung on to end up with the fastest time on the hard tire compound, though probably because of late runs, during which the track adhesion had increased.

The track evolved continuously over the session, with drivers reporting increasing adhesion as the practice sessions went on.  There is no reason to believe that this will not continue, right up until the final qualifying run; therefore the later the run, the better the comparative timing, favouring the brave.

The prognosis:

It’s looking good if you are a blockheaded munchkin in a race car sponsored by a metabolism-increasing fizzy drink company, and designed by the greatest design guru who ever worked in the business.

Vettel is far and away the favourite here.  That being said, he has not won four races in a row (one web site states), and all the conditions are evolving, yet, and in this sport, in the words of a famous play-by-play man, “anything can happen, and usually does.

Focus on the sharp end – what to look for at the 2012 India F1 Grand Prix

Red Bull are ruling the ring, now.

Can McLaren ‘hit back’ and get back on top?

They’ll need their matadors armed with new sharpened swords to do it

Can Ferrari find the 0.2 second per lap that Stefano Domenicali says is all they need?

Even with that, they’ll have to use their two butteri more strategically than they did in Korea.

Can Lotus get a similar performance improvement that Red Bull have achieved with their new front wing and refined ‘conanda’ effect exhaust?

They’ll need to and get both drivers in divine position and unattachment (especially Romaine) past the first lap to keep Kimi’s remote championship drive alive.  It would be fitting if Lotus had a divine weekend and achieve the sublime to win their first Grand Prix, in India.

The track:

Buddh International Circuit is an interesting mix of a couple of drag strips, an apex, good for passing, generally a few passing opportunities, and a bit of trixiness to boot.

The two long straights means power will be a factor, slightly favouring the more powerful engined cars, however, the mix of bends means that there will definitely be a trade-off for downforce settings on the cars.  The temperature is expected to be 31 degrees, so tire management could be decisive also.

For the top cars, so many antagonistic factors, combined with the unpredictability of the development race means it is difficult to predict a pecking order.

What to look for:

If McLaren or Ferrari have caught up, then it should show in Friday qualifying.  However, even if they head the pack in practice, both Red Bull and Lotus usually make substantial jumps up overnight Friday.

Any loss of power for Lotus, due to their installation of ‘coanda effect’ exhaust could hurt them in the power straights; James Allison talked up refining the system to recoup the power cost, but the Lotus just cannot afford any addition loss of grunt compared to the other teams.

Look for Red Bull’s straight line grunt; it’s been looking VERY good for the past two races; what have they got going that nobody else can figure out?  If they’ve got the grunt, then they’ll be hard to beat, and likely to gore their competitors with a possible 1-2.

And don’t count Red Bull out of the development race; other teams might bring two tenths, three tenths, maybe even half a second, but if Red Bull brings a few tenths, then they will still be ahead!

Vettel is on fire, and it’s turning into a firestorm.  I would not mind them falling behind a bit on machinery pace, just to see how Vettel might up his game, yet again this season.  He has been the best package since the summer break, by a mile.

Look also for preliminary tire degradation on Friday.  Even if this turns out to be decisive, I don’t think it is clear who has the advantage in tire wear management at this point in the campaign; while Lotus was the master class in the first half of the campaign, there have been so much development, who knows if this has been lost and clawed back by the other teams.

Further on down the road, the Taj Mahal?:

Force India is on the ascendance just in time for the India Grand Prix; they were threatening Lotus for the past couple of circuits, and with the power likely a factor, could surprise and land higher up the grid, a podium is not out of the question for either driver.

We’ll have to see if Sauber is back on the ups, though at this point in the season, I just cannot predict how their car will perform at any particular circuit.

 

This weekend should be good.

Still backing Kimi to win the 2012 F1 Drivers Championship

2012 October 20  11h51 daylight saving Eastern timezone, North America.

Is it either:

1. Kimi can do this (the Maki Racing) commercial endorsement the it has been done (interesting, clever, eye-catching, and very amusing, i.e. not bus-nob square boring, shit, so tedious), because he has such a large fan base?

or

2. Kimi has such a large fan base because he has ALWAYS been doing it that way done things in interesting, clever, eye-catching, amusing ways, and seldom is busnob square, nor boring, nor bullshit?
It is the latter, as all of the people who have been paying attention, already know.

The Mystery of Lewis’ damaged McLaren at the F1 Korean GP – what mystery?!?

I will once again point out the overwhelming bias of the English language formula one press for all things British; sometimes seeing things that no one else sees, and like this incident, REMARKABLY NOT seeing what happened in the first ten seconds of the 2012 Korean F1 Grand Prix!!!

Lewis came all of the way across the track and bounced off of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus!

How come so many people, paid to do this, DIDN’T SEE IT!

Look again!

Lewis came all of the way across the track and bounced off of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus!

There is no mystery to the broken suspension, kids.

Ominous Vettel-Red Bull package dominance – Vettel wins 2012 Korean F1 Grand Prix

Vettel out-drags Webber into first corner off the start, then is never really challenged.

Webber hangs on comfortably to second.

Alonso third through most of the race.

Hamilton nudges into fast starting Raikkonen, then has difficulties with tire wear and handling, can only hang on to tenth from a fast-charging Perez.

Massa looks the faster Ferrari from the first tire stop, but is held to fourth.

Kimi lonely, most of the time, in fifth, but scraps with Lewis intensely as Lewis does everything he can to hold position.

Hulkenberg duels with tentative Grosjean, doing very well to take sixth, followed closely by Grosjean.

Tire wear, especially front right, more than anticipated.  Most cars struggling to the end listening to many anxious pit-wall radio calls pleading for restaint.

Vettel takes over first in the championship, with six points to spare going to India, looking extremely strong to win his third championship in a row.  Awesome!

Webber pole at the 2012 Korean Formula One Grand Prix!

Yeah!

Keep it feral for the race, mate.

Webber is one of my favourites.

Webber heads four past Formula One world champions, and I think he is otherwise amongst his peers, and should be a world champion himself.

The start of this race is a nexus point for quite a few of the main plot lines in the 2012 Formula One campaign; those who have been paying attention can well understand this.  But for the rest of you, consider this small sample:

  1. Fernando puts the squeeze on Raikkonen at the start a week ago; this bad judgement costs him what could be expected to have been around 15 points, give or take three or so.  Now Alonso starts immediately in front of Kimi.  A hot spot, and an ICE COLD Finn.  Finns are cool, it’s a cool country, they speak a behavioural language that my kind understand; they are great hockey players, also, much admired around here.
  2. Over the course of the entire season to date, equipment comparative advantage has varied greatly, but overall, Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari have been extremely close, the difference between them, their immediate comparison; so Red Bull has a the slight edge, over an almost dead heat between McLaren and Ferrari.  The next chapter in this story is current race pace, a cliff hanger, to be certain!
  3. An epic continues with the Red Bull inter-team plot line of Sebastian Vettel, and Mark Webber racing into the first corner; I certainly hope that Mark Webber has NOT conceded the season yet; Australians are a cool people.  We have great affinity, they are like a warmer weather version of our culture (though driving on the wrong side of the road).
  4. For much of the season, the ice races threateningly, but never conquering the peak of the podium; now this curious viral campaign suggesting revelations for the next season on Kimi’s birthday, next week?!?  I don’t think we’ve seen it dropped into the next gear yet.

What I would like to see, Kimi first, Webber second, and a former Spanish double world champion taking out a German double world champion.

Why?  Great ongoing spectacle, of course; such an outcome would crank up even this, the best season in a long time.

Congratulations to all those who have made the 2012 F1 World Championship so good!