Vettel – Holy S#!T! F()<KING Awsome! What the F()<K?!?

Whoa!  He’s done it before, but I don’t think we’ve ever had such a Red Bull-Vettel package advantage OVER ALL COMERS!  He comes out late in a practice, the teaming having worked on some undisclosed, but crucial performance issue for most of the session, frantically!  And he bangs in the fastest lap of the session!  Just like that.

Everybody else has a BIG PROBLEM!

I think the job for Vettel is to stay focused, stay cool, stay light, and then he will stay in that zone that he is in with the Red Bull right now, and no one is going to be ble to get close to him.

The only issue at stake is, can Alonso get at least the third place, he needs to retain a mathematical possibility to still win the championship, going to the anything-can-happen Brazilian GP?  

I want to put yet another shout out the Kamui Kobyashi: those who have been paying close attention, know how good you are.  Keep up the good work; I honestly do not count you out of a win before any race.  Go for it, I hope you can win, but it looks like second will be the highest possible position for anyone but Sebastian Vettel, at the moment.

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2012 November 13 before the American Grand Prix

Just a few tidbits that have crossed my mind.

Oh yeah, back to the U.S.A!  “Eh, right on”, as we say here.  Yeah, they are next door, but it is all the way on the other side of the country, for us, and it’s a big country.  Plus… the other stuff.

It could be interesting.

My early call: The McLaren should still be good on every circuit, including this one.  I do also think Red Bull will continue to be strong.  If Ferrari are going to challenge, they have to at least start, for this, as they so fondly like to say, on the British Formula One television coverage, the ‘penultimate’ race of the championship. We call that, ‘the second last race’, or, in a race, ‘the second last lap’; it’s easier to say, and at least as descriptive.  I also think Lotus will be strong, perhaps yet a little bit stronger than in Abu Dhabi.

So, it could be interesting.

I haven’t really been too down on Martin Whitmarsh, but he’s really, REALLY losing the plot, here:  in the same week as he is getting headlines, that read, “Lewis doubting move to Mercedes”, or something like that, it SHOULD DEFINITELY BE, IN THE TITLE OF THE ARTICLE, “Whitmarsh says Lewis doubting…”, he says something like, “… oh yeah, I’m doubting my decision on my driver next year, oh yeah, that’s how confident I am… …about MY driver selection for next year… Oh yeah… I did that, didn’t I?”  Trouble at McLaren; say it ain’t so!?!  That’s pretty bad.  Pull it together, man!  When confused, just keep quiet and see if you can’t find a bit focus again, before opening it, and subsequently, losing it.  Poor Lewy, damned if he do, and damned if he don’t.  Stick to your guns, man; you made the decision, and now go and do it, (after your car breaks down for two more races you are leading – oh well, you’re going.)

By the way, Perez is still looking great, as far as I’m concerned.  What’s happening now, at Sauber, is everybody getting their money’s worth.  Perez is pushing the boundaries, learning everything he can, especially since he is leading the charge in a constructor’s battle for Sauber, and they are willing to support alternative strategies, to just maybe get one of their guys further up the pecking order by the flag.  It’s been a bit rough over there, and this strategy may not always work, but maybe their due, either one of them; I’m still a big Kobyashi fan, and I’d love to see him at Williams with one of them Finns; they seem to make good race car drivers, there.  I think it’s a bit like Canada there; they have great hockey players; they’re doing something right; I hear they have a good education system, short hours, and much of it spent outside, even in the winter.  That makes healthy people, not just physically.  We should have shorter hours in grade school, and mostly teaching outside, here, too.  Then maybe we’d get a few more race car drivers who could win in formula one; you never know.

The “warned over language…” thing is a bit much.  I admit that it did seem a little bit like Sebastian was, kind of, sort of, emulating Kimi!?!  Now that is a bit weird!  Let’s just think about this for a second, the reigning champion, a two-time-in-a-row, double world champion, likely, shortly to be, three-time-in-a-row, world champion, is out of character, a bit anyways, sort of… kind of… being like Kimi?!?  Well, I don’t blame him; there’s no doubt about who the coolest driver.  The one who likes to drive, and doesn’t like the corporate types; who could blame him on that one?  But being… something… that you are not?  That’s just not cool; it’s the opposite of cool.  Anyways, he sure a great race car driver, though.  What a bunk of uptight gunk!  The language police!  If Vettel hadn’t made such a mess of it, it probably would have just cruised under the radar, with Kimi’s quite appropriate usage.  Oh well, it was it is.  NBD.

Slightly off, but really not that much: I am happy that Lorenzo, already having won this year’s MotoGP championship, the approximate equivalent in the motorcycle racing world, is seemingly in good health following his BIG HIGHSIDE, (WAY!)  at the last race in Valencia, won by Dani Pedrosa, who is runner-up in this year’s championship.  VERY SAD, that Casey Stoner, the best motorcycle racer of all time, is retired.  He’s a young guy.  I think he should get a Formula One test with the smartest team, why not straight to Ferrari.  He could win a world championship in F1; he might as well go right to the top; or maybe… Williams!?!  (So far, I must have about ten people driving for Williams next year!)

BACK TO THE RACE…

Yeah, I think it’s going to be good; I got at least six guys who I think could win this one; and I still think (and like the idea of) a Sauber victory, in the last two races, either one of them; so really, I’m looking at eight guys who I think can win this one; unknown to everybody.  How often do we get that, unknown to everyone, therefore everyone of similar experience, still a hot fight in the drivers’ championship, and potentially, closely matched machinery, for FOUR TEAMS!  I hope the machinery is evenly matched, and I think it’s going to be interesting.

First thing I’m looking at:

Tire wear, and tire wear across varying conditions, warmer and cooler.

Kimi! Victory! Yes! 2012 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

Kimi Raikkonen back on the top step, winning the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix 2012!

Webber’s slightly off-kilter start, in front of Kimi, Kimi not hesitating, got him into position to fight for victory.

Not much needs to be said about Lewis’ machinery failure, yet again in 2012.  Lewis, having a great, and dominant weekend, leads from pole, looks comfortable, after a minor cold-tire lockup, and edges a comfortable gap over the fast and steady Kimi, only to have his McLaren whoof, and lose power.  Race over!

Kimi establishes dominance on the soft tires, takes a good cushion and winds out fastest laps, edging forward.  He stays out a bit longer on the Lotus-favoured softer tires, returning from the pit stop in good position to continue to the flag.  Alonso charging hard in the last five laps, but Kimi responded trading fastest laps to the flag to take his first victory: this season, since his return, and for Lotus since Aryton Senna.

A morose Alonso takes second.

Vettel: I suggested the potential for an amazing drive, before the race, and yet was surprised as it was even more interesting than I had warned.  Starting from the pit, Vettel shortly gets wing damage advancing through the field, then during the safety car, for the Rosberg/Karthikeyan, Vettel gets squeeze by a brake-warming Ricciardo, as he is accelerating to take out a brake-zone market and effectively finish off his front wing!  So he pits and takes on new tires, possibly planning to run the remaining 42 laps on the soft tires!  With new wing and new tires, he carves his way through the field, and advances as other teams begin to change tires for this one-stop race.  Then the Di Resta, Perez, Grosjean, and Webber (more on him in a moment) coming together safetycar launch, lap 39/55; Vettel takes his chance and dives in for a new set of softs, again lunching upwards through the ranks.  In the final few laps Vettel fights Button, in a slower car, but defending valiantly.  Button deserves driver of the race, for what he didn’t do, that is, take Vettel out on a gutsy passing move, Button drove with the utmost respect and integrity, giving the minimum, but enough room for Vettel to make the move stick and up into third, which he held until the flag.  Astonishing race from Vettel.  Unfortunately for the race winner, by gaining third, Vettel mathematically eliminates Kimi from the 2012 World Championship.

Webber drove a feral race, but was always behind the eight ball from his  (slightly) compromised start off the line.  Webber drove like a man possessed, or as the say down under, ‘totally feral, mate.’  He mixed it up with Maldonado around turn eleven, spinning out and losing places.  he then fought his way back after a seemingly ill-timed for him, (but not Vettel who was immediately behind him), pit stop, through dense and competitive traffic, to mix it up again at turn eleven, this time wiping out Fillipe, who spun his Ferrari after an awkward bounce off a curb.  Finally, Webber was in the wrong place, at the wrong time to get clipped by Grosjean (also not at fault), getting popped by Perez rejoining the track in an ill-advised manner after swinging wide following very aggressive double overtaking attempt.  Webber provided about 50% of the excitement and spectacle of the race!

Kudos to the stewards who did not give Webber a penalty for either his Maldonado nor Massa contacts; the Maldonado contact being the more grievous of the two.

Maldonado 5th, his first top six, aside from his Barcelona win, this season, and Bruno Senna 8th means a good day fro Williams.

Kobayashi 6th, a good drive from him.

But the man of the hour, a crowd-pleaser with his no-nonsense approach (especially to the strained contrivances of the media interviewers), wins (FINALLY!) this season, and many of us could only be happier if he was still in contention for the 2012 World Drivers’ championship.

2012 Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix post-qualy – way to go Lewis!

Lewis Hamilton was 0.348 ahead of Webber; clearly he was the best package.  Webber put in a fine lap to get what he did; way to go, mate.  Vettel hasn’t looked like his fine post summer break form, all weekend; what is going on?  But don’t count him out!

This weekend is getting more interesting as it goes on; I think we’re going to get a very interesting race, including a very interesting first corner.

Talk about the golden horseshoe stuffed so far up there, his main, and only title rival demoted to the back of the grid?

¡Que bueno suerte!

7th on the grid is now on the third row, against Jenson Button; things are  looking so much better for the butteri primo of the prancing horses.

Kimi is now on the second row, but next to Pastor.

That crafty Alonso could be third by the end of the first lap; then anything could happen.

Another guy I just have a feeling for is Roman Grosjean; I have no idea why; perhaps it is such minute attributes, so as to be imperceptible to the conscious mind, yet perceptible nonetheless.  I think he’ll advance on the first lap, and keep on passing and going faster, and… maybe a podium.

Lewis could pull away if he can keep ahead of Webber into the first corner; I expect Webber to be completely going for it; and it could be interesting.

Expect phenomenal displays from Sebastian Vettel, provided his car is working as well as it has in recent races.  He might put on a display of the race, starting from the pitlane, following his sanctioning by the FIA for  insufficient quantity of fuel following qualifications, after failing to complete the drive the the parc ferme.

This is going to be good.

Out of all on the grid, however, the man in red is happiest of all, after all.

2012 Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Friday Analysis

There is not much changed, from a week ago, except the track, and some updates.

Red Bull are still there, especially with the Vettel package.  Apparently, according to James Allen, Webber has never done well at the Yas Marina circuit, perhaps that is why he is dropped back compared to Vettel in single lap practice times.

McLaren are back, at least with the Hamilton package, and he sits a meagre  0.168 back, still almost 2 tenths, but the next fastest, Jenson Button is another 4 tenths back, a whopping 0.661 off Vettel’s pace.

Hmm….

But from Button, in 3rd (0.661 back) to Alonso in 7th (0.836) is a mere 0.175, similar but less than the difference between the top two!  Anything may happen in this bunch, and as the famous Murray Walker refrain would say, “… and it usually does.”

So while in single lap pace, one might think it a bit gloomy for Alonso, he is closer to third than Hamilton is to pole.

If I were Alonso, I wouldn’t mind being third, with Vettel on the front row against Hamilton, who has nothing to lose in going all out for the win, and on this track, of at least average difficulty to pass, a tussle between the top two, into the first corner could work extremely well for Alonso, as long as he is on the third row of better.

But things are gloomy in race pace for the Alonso-Ferrari championship drive, where according to Vettel, McLaren are on top in Abu Dhabi.  He has reportedly called on Red Bull to up their game, to get onto better race pace terms with McLaren.

Lotus was quiet except for Grosjean’s ability to make the soft tires work better.  Kimi was again sporting the ‘device’ intake scoops on the air dam; but there has been a distinct ‘talking-down’ of ‘the device’ of late, and it may well go the way of the dodo.

I have a feeling about Grosjean, and there has been a icy restraint from Eric Bouiller since Kimi’s surge and self-styled media stunts, and Grosjean’s ongoing crash habit, concerning Grosjean’s standing with the team.  All season long Grosjean was the darling of Boullier, now there are headlines, like, “Lotus still evaluating Grosjean before finalizing new contract” (www.autosport.com), and “Boullier in no rush for Grosjean” (www.planetF1.com); and the Lotus F1 web site, now plastered with images of Kimi?!?

Still, Grosjean has already shown flashes of brilliance, out-qualifying Kimi regularly before his latest and twitter-inducing first lap wipe-outs.

I have a feeling that he could go large on qualifying at Abu Dhabi; we shall see; it’s just a feeling.

But the straight money is on Vettel and Hamilton for the first row, and the rest of Red Bull, McLaren, Lotus and Ferrari to scrap it out behind.