Will rain in Spain make some complain?

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Will rain in Spain make some complain?

Postby meteorite » Sat May 12, 2012 10:07 pm

QUALIFYING

Overnight, something went wrong with my satellite feed. So I got to SEE the qualifying sessions but couldn't hear a word of explanation as to what was going on. So first lets see the numbers, and then see what they seem to mean. Here's the grid:

FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA SANTANDER 2012
Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
DSQ 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.583 1:22.465 1:21.707 17
2 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:23.380 1:22.105 1:22.285 14
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.276 1:22.862 1:22.302 15
4 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:23.248 1:22.667 1:22.424 14
5 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:23.406 1:22.856 1:22.487 13
6 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:24.261 1:22.773 1:22.533 14
7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:23.370 1:22.882 1:23.005 17
8 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:23.850 1:22.884 no time 14
9 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:23.757 1:22.904 no time 15
10 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:23.386 1:22.897 no time 14
11 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.510 1:22.944 13
12 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:23.592 1:22.977 8
13 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:23.852 1:23.125 14
14 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:23.720 1:23.177 13
15 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:24.362 1:23.265 11
16 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:23.906 1:23.442 11
17 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:23.886 1:23.444 12
18 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:24.981 8
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:25.277 8
20 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:25.507 8
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:26.582 8
22 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:27.032 8
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:27.555 6
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:31.122 4
Q1 107% Time 1:28.363

Note - Hamilton originally qualified on pole, but was excluded for failing to return to the pits under his own power and supply a fuel sample. Karthikeyan failed to meet the 107% requirement so races at the stewards' discretion.

Just look at that shocker in the top line - Lewis Hamilton failed to make it back to the pits, for reasons unstated openly but if someone didn't mess up on the fuel calculation, the answer must be something seriously exotic. And not to suggest that the stewards (or somebody) is out to get him - but if he'd been penalized by being required to forfeit his time, he'd then be in the same position as the three who didn't even go out to contest the third session but sat on their session 2 times - except that he'd still be starting fifth but without the advantage of tires as fresh as the competition - he'd be in the third row. So why is he being made an example of for something that was the team's fault and beyond his control? And why so disproportionately severe a penalty - who's out to get McLaren?

So who gets to inherit the pole but Pastor Who? The kid has massive backing from a homeland angel who thinks he knows big talent when he sees it, and is willing to put his money where his mouth is. He's already looking like a guy you'd like to have as your investment broker. He likely already has Sir Frank Williams dreaming of his glory days with Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and our own Jacques Villeneuve. And he's holding his own with some pretty classy coming-men - it's hard to doubt that it will be FIA's privilege to engrave the names of Maldonado, Romain Grosjean, Niki Rosberg and a couple of easily-named other on the annual champion's trophy in years soon to come. So many teams are on the move - Sauber, Force India, Toro Rosso and even Caterham are showing significant strength. It's like teh glory days when we never knew whether any given race would fall to the big two of Ferrari or Mercedes, or Lotus, Brabham, Cooper, later McLaen and even "wild shots" like BRM.

Back to racing. This season is all about tires. And this season's tires are dauntingly temperature-sensitive. So all of practice and qualifying has been run in tropical level heat with the cars set up for that - and Sunday is forecast for a stiff northerly wind bearing cloud, chill temperatures including critically a cold track, and quite possibly rain. Should the weather gurus have it right for a change (a dicey thing around racetracks) most if not all cars will be running on tires without the slightest clue as to how they will behave in the likely conditions. And some are going to behave appallingly indeed. Those who skipped Q3 to conserve their tires will find it was all for naught if the competition has to join the whole field on the unrationed wets. All the guys are good, but we'll see who the real regenmeisters are, and likely a field with more positional changes than could possibly be expected otherwise.

If the track stays dry or largely dry, say no worse than one stage on intermediates, the temperature behaviour of the various cars on the available tires will rule, producing an outcome immune to prediction. Who wins will more likely depend on the luck of pit stops and timing of safety cars rather than pit, managerial or driver skills. Though the Lotuses are well placed to see some good time in the lead. But a dry race has too many unknowns to venture any sort of a call.

On the other hand, should the skies open and stay wet, I would not consider any bet against Alonso prudent. He does not have the car to win in the dry - but starting from outside pole he has the driver to win in the wet. And in his home race with the huge, wildly cheering crowd cheering him on, he will be driven not to disappoint them. Hamilton could make his way forward rather quickly enough to garner some meaningful points, with Button and Vettel doing the same. We will see just how much Kimi Raikonnen learned about fast cars on slippery surfaces during his rally sabbatical, not that he was any mean talent to begin with. And Schumcher will be lurking, too.

I think with the exaggerated penalty to Hamilton that the race has already been spoiled, and the tire unpredictability is not helping the situation, either. Schumacher's recent comments on that situation were cogent and well-judged. It remains to be seen whether the events in Spain confirm some growing prejudices or shut down the nay-sayers. But I suspect the former. Comes morning we shall see.
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Re: Will rain in Spain make some complain?

Postby meteorite » Sun May 13, 2012 10:03 pm

RACE DAY

OK, let's get the official bits out of the way, the things F1 considers it most important that you know - first their account of the race then the official finishing order. Then we'll discuss what went on!

Race - magnificent Maldonado puts Williams back on top 13 May 2012

Pastor Maldonado was the hero of Barcelona on Sunday afternoon. The Venezuelan’s speed in his Williams FW34 came out of left field on Saturday, and in the race he became the fifth different winner this season and the seventh in seven races when he steered it to the British team’s first victory since Brazil 2004.

And Maldonado did it the hard way, fending off a hungry Fernando Alonso who burst through to the lead for Ferrari for the first 27 laps. At that stage it seemed a foregone conclusion, especially as the Lotus’s expected speed didn’t arrive until it was too late.

But Maldonado moved ahead after the second round of pit stops, and by then Alonso’s challenge seemed broken. After the third stops, however, the Spaniard got his second wind and the gap shrank steadily and by the 48th lap the race was back on, as Alonso never looked more dangerous.

On the 57th of the 66 laps he had a little look down the inside in Turn One but thought better of it, and like Lotus’s’ Kimi Raikkonen on Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain, that was all he got. Maldonado held his nerve and as the Ferrari’s tyres started to go away again, he pulled away to win by 3.1s.

Behind them, Raikkonen finally got going in the third stint and slashed an 18-second gap to Alonso to just over half a second by the chequered flag. The Spaniard said something went wrong with his car as it began to lose grip, while the Finn said he was disappointed that his car - one of the pre-race favourites - just wasn’t fast enough when it really mattered.

It was still a good day for Lotus as Romain Grosjean was an easy fourth. Behind him, Kamui Kobayashi survived a brush when overtaking McLaren’s Jenson Button to take an excellent fifth for Sauber, who lost Sergio Perez early on after the Mexican collided with Grosjean in the first corner and had to make a pit stop at the end of Lap One. Later after a mechanic fell over the right-rear wheel during a stop, Perez lasted only as long as it took him to figure out that the wheel was not properly secured.

Vettel fought tooth and nail for sixth, his race including a nose change as he struggled to make headway. On fresher tyres he caught and passed the McLarens and Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes in the closing laps to snatch a useful eight points, which was not bad going since he received a drive-through penalty too for ignoring yellow flags.

Rosberg just held on to seventh by 0.2s as McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton launched a late attack. The Briton drove a brilliant fighting two-stop race from the back of the grid, jumping to 19th place by the end of the first lap and then steadily picking people off - including both Toro Rossos on Lap 39 - but he was always going to be on his back foot coming from such a long way behind. He was also lucky on the first lap to miss a wayward Perez as the Mexican veered back on to the track right in front of him in Turn Two. But still there was a pit-stop problem as he clipped a used tyre leaving the pit after his first stop. Luckily there was no serious damage.

Team mate Button was an unhappy ninth, struggling all day for grip and weathering that brush when Kobayashi caught him by surprise. Neither McLaren driver had the grip left to fend off Vettel by the end.

Nico Hulkenberg took the final point for Force India after a super battle which included keeping a delayed Mark Webber behind despite some side-by-side moments. The Australian, like his Red Bull team mate, had to have the nose changed during his first stop.

Jean-Eric Vergne was close behind him at the end after a great scrap with Toro Rosso team mate Daniel Ricciardo, while Force India’s Paul di Resta was an unhappy 14th after a big fight with all of the foregoing four drivers, and a lot of defensive driving at the end to keep Felipe Massa’s Ferrari in his mirrors. The Brazilian was another to get a drive-through penalty for a yellow flag infringement.

This time Heikki Kovalainen comprehensively beat Caterham team mate Vitaly Petrov, and Timo Glock was Marussia’s only finisher after first-lap spinner Charles Pic was further delayed by a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags and then retired with mechanical problems.

Pedro de la Rosa was the final finisher for HRT, after team mate Narain Karthikeyan fell prey to mechanical problems, and besides Pic and Perez the retirements included Bruno Senna and Michael Schumacher. The German ran into the back of the Brazilian in Turn One on the 12th lap. Schumacher later criticised Senna, but Senna said his tyres were shot and that knowing Schumacher’s to be fresher he was trying to move left out of his way when the misunderstanding occurred. Schumacher was later handed a five-place grid penalty for the next round in Monaco by the race stewards for causing the collision.

So a remarkable race with the fairy tale ending that Alonso denied Sauber in Malaysia provided a superb present for Sir Frank Williams only days after his 70th birthday.

It moves Alonso to joint first place in the drivers' championship with Vettel, both with 61 points, but with the German stays ahead on count back. Hamilton’s great damage limitation run keeps him in play with 53 with Raikkonen on 49, Webber 48, Button 45, Rosberg 41, Grosjean 35, Maldonado 29 and Perez 22. In the constructors’ stakes Red Bull have 109 to McLaren’s 98, Lotus’s 84, Ferrari’s 63, Mercedes and Williams on 43 apiece and Sauber on 41.

It was a tremendous day for Maldonado, who has come in for criticism in the past for some of his driving, but he never put a wheel wrong and thoroughly deserved a racer’s win. Small wonder that on the podium Alonso and Raikkonen hoisted him on to their shoulders to help him celebrate a fantastic triumph.

FORMULA 1 GRAN PREMIO DE ESPAÑA SANTANDER 2012
Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 66 1:39:09.145 1 25
2 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 66 +3.1 secs 2 18
3 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 66 +3.8 secs 4 15
4 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 66 +14.7 secs 3 12
5 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 66 +64.6 secs 9 10
6 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 66 +67.5 secs 7 8
7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 66 +77.9 secs 6 6
8 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 66 +78.1 secs 24 4
9 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 66 +85.2 secs 10 2
10 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 65 +1 Lap 13 1
11 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 65 +1 Lap 11
12 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 65 +1 Lap 14
13 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 65 +1 Lap 15
14 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 65 +1 Lap 12
15 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 65 +1 Lap 16
16 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 65 +1 Lap 19
17 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 65 +1 Lap 18
18 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 64 +2 Laps 21
19 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 63 +3 Laps 22
Ret 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 37 Transmission 5
Ret 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 35 Driveshaft 20
Ret 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 22 Mechanical 23
Ret 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 12 Accident damage 17
Ret 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 12 Accident 8

Note - Hamilton originally qualified on pole, but was excluded for failing to return to the pits under his own power and supply a fuel sample. Karthikeyan failed to meet the 107% requirement, but raced at the stewards' discretion.

Well, the great heroics of the race were likely those of Lewis Hamilton, who after his penalty yesterday had to start from the back of the grid - and no blue flag advantage as he worked his way up this time because every pass was for position. Even so, with the pit stop shuffles and all, and the strategies changing on the fly, he actually ended up running as high as fourth place at one point, and that was on merit. But of course there had to be a pit bungle, in this case failing to pull back a used tire far enough so Lewis had the startling experience of an apparent speed bump right in his on pit exit. The upshot was the only way he could work forward was by a daring and dangerous realignment of pit stops, and ultimately it was having to push a little too far on fading tires that did him in, causing him to fade back to eighth.

The Williams still isn't where it needs to be in development, in Maldonado's view, and Fernando Alonso says quite frankly he doesn't yet have a race-wining car. Which didn't stop the pair of them from holding a pull out all the stops, go for broke battle for the lead throughout the race. The decisive factor may well have been tire wear, because Maldonado was the first to pit for a tire change but managed to control the wear to the point where it was Alonso who was slipping and sliding all over the track when the chequer was waved. Whether that says more about Williams design skills or Maldonado's areas of special skills in driving it's too early to tell, but the bottom line is that Williams and Maldonado posed a challenge that Ferrari and Alonso could not answer even on Alonso's home track. It's a fair guess, too, that the difference between Alonso and Massa's results was not in the cars but how Alonso was driven beyond the machines" capabilities by his local pride.

And as Kimi Raikonnen observed, if only the race had been two laps longer... Because when they came across the finish line the Finn was within DRS opening distance of Alonso, and had been catching him up at two seconds a lap, shadowed by his teammate Ramon Grosjean. But something early on, likely an ability of the Lotus-Renault chassis to "bring in" the tires in the chill temperatures and stiff breeze, had left them lagging increasingly far back in the order. It was only in the last stint that they came into their own, and then just too late. But notes have been made and names have been taken, and Monaco is likely to be warm.

Behind was a wild scramble, with much nose to tail running, even in groups. Both the Red Bulls ended up needing new noses for the cars, and Vettel got a penalty for slowing insufficiently for a yellow, which helped his cause not at all. Michael Schumacher managed to drive up the back of Bruno Senna, punting both out of the race. There were two different versions of the etiology of the collision, the it was Michael who got the five-position grid penalty for Monaco. By contrast, his teammate Nico Rosberg soldiered efficiently on, constantly under attack by the Sauber of Kobayashi who can be a match for Hamilton in the daring and cheekiness of his passing manouvres. Despite a puncture from a fist-corner coming-together with Grosjean Perez was pushing his Sauber along most creditably till a transmission failure did him in.

The problem or joy, depending on your point of view, of the new tire rules is that they promote a lot of passing and also very close racing. After the first tire stops many will have stopped from leading positions, but as they try to work their way up the field they will be battling the slower cars that have not stopped for position, so the slower cars will not be given the blue flag requiring them to yield. There were a number of groups formed up this way during the course of the race, with great exciting cut and thrust as the leaders worked their way back up front.

So once again, if not a total barn-burner, it was a thrilling and eventful race with a thoroughly deserving first time winner, and the promise of plenty of action and suspense for the rest of the season.
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