The Formula 1 World Championship was at it again this week from the awesome Sepang Circuit in Malaysia. One thing about this race is the weather often times is a factor like it was this weekend. What we also saw this weekend was something nobody could have really predicted with Fernando Alonso taking the win for Scuderia Ferrari. The F2012 is truly a pig in every department. It looks hideous and has just as many problems with handling and other on track performances. However, with Alonso at the helm it was a thing of beauty. True the weather did help, but Felipe Massa certainly was nowhere to be found on track. Alonso was able to extract every ounce of performance (and then some) out of the pig and gave Ferrari a true shot in the arm as we go forward.
We also have to look at Sergio Perez. For all intensive purposes, he should have won the race. He was closing on Alonso and was nearly ready to make the pass before washing out and missing a corner. Still, had you asked me if Perez would have been in the top five this weekend I would have laughed in your face. We have to look at the Sauber though. Yet again the team put together a solid performance and was able to haul pretty decent points. The car was fast during testing and has shown reasonable pace to back up those results. Looking even further down the road, this performance all but secured his future with Ferrari in 2013. Massa has been out of favors for the last couple of seasons and those in Maranello believe it is time for a change. I used to defend Massa to death, but I too think that perhaps we should look at the next generation. A straight trade between Sauber and Ferrari for Perez and Massa respectfully is a win win.
Oh how the mighty fall. With Red Bull putting up another lack luster performance and McLaren looking awful. I will give you the podium by Hamilton and will even go as far as to give him credit where credit is due. However, his team really dropped the ball today and need to correct these errors if Lewis or Jenson are to fight for the title. Speaking of Mr. Button, what an uncharacteristic error from him! This guy is as cool as the other side of the pillow and did not play the part today. He simply went in way too hot on the HRT and the results fit the crime. The McLaren crew even dropped the ball on countless stops. Cocking up the rear jack and fumbling with the tires on JB’s car. The world feed was able to catch one of the crew members slamming his fist on the ground in rage. Not a stellar weekend for Woking. Vettel also put up a terrible performance. The double world champion was never a factor in the wet conditions that made him a legend at Monza years ago. It is because of these results that Fernando is now able to take the championship lead. However improbable, it really shows the level at which Fernado can compete. After this performance, I would hope that Maranello name a wing of the factory after him.
Mercedes AMG….more like OMG. What the hell is going on at that outfit. It is really starting to show that perhaps the wing DRS/f-duct is really a huge reason why the team is so fast everyday but race day. After Australia we wondered just how much that device was giving, and now after a second terrible run I think it is becoming more clear. Another problem that has been pointed out is the way the Mercedes chews through rear tires. If you remember back to 2011, the team had the same issue at the beginning of the year. The gas from the exhaust was actually melting the rear tires down and taking any performance. I am not exactly sure what is happening this year, but the rear tires are again not hooking up. The one saving grace for Ross Brawn in my opinion is they have a solid car beneath them. Last year the car was trash out of the box, this year the car is pretty darn good but not showing well given the tire degradation. Hopefully the boys will have it turned around in time for the European season.
My big props for the weekend will go to Scuderia Toro Rosso. I will admit that I was kinda bummed when the team trashed their 2011 driver lineup in favor of what we have this year, but wow are the results not worth it? I thought the performance of Vergne and Ricciardo was good this weekend and they beat a host of drivers that could be considered “more talented” I noted to Doug after the race that I thought Red Bull had some solid young talent on that team and will not be too bad off once Mark Webber decides to hang up the helmet. Vergne would finish 8th and his teammate Ricciardo would finish 12th. Not a bad weekend at the office!
So now we have a bit of a break before going to China. Shanghai is another place where the conditions could come into play. Last year it was the site of a spirited drive by Lewis Hamilton to take victory over Vettel in rather spectacular fashion. It will be interesting to see the upgrades that go on the cars ahead of the third round. It should give teams at least the ability to identify some key trouble areas. It will also give Red Bull a chance to take a step back and really work on the balance of their car. Nobody expected the Bulls to be getting beat this bad out of the gate and it will be a true test to see how championship caliber they are. It is not a great team that can go out and simply dominate from lights to flag, but one that answers in the face of adversity and shoves back. Regardless of the conditions, the team that has done that is in fact Scuderia Ferrari with a Fernando painting his masterpiece this past weekend.