Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Malaysian GP Review: Flawless Vettel dominates dominates Sepang

Sebastian Vettel won his 2nd race of the race with an ease that for most part of the season he was on his own. Even better this victory was that his championship rivals from last season Hamilton and Alonso could only finish 6th and 7th. Though it was a good race for Vettel, his teammate Webber had a mixed race but eventually managed to finish 4th fighting it out hard for that place. Not a dream start to the season for Webber but he will take it. Red Bull looks strong and if they could solve their KERS issue they can run away with the championship this season.

Jenson Button finished 2nd and though he never looked like challenging Vettel this was a good result for the British driver as the season is 19 races long and this finish is good for him in-terms of his standing in his team itself and also with regard to the driver’s championship. Button did similarly last season and was in contention for the title till the penultimate race of the season. Also he seems more suited to the Pirelli tires than his teammate Hamilton.

Ferrari came into this weekend not expecting to challenge Red Bulls for a win but there were ready to challenge for podium places and Alonso during various stages of the race was set for that but due to various races it never materialized and he could only finish 6th while teammate Massa improved to finish 5th. Not a great finish but finishing ahead of Alonso and a much improved show by him should restore some faith him in by the team.

Renault had Vitaly Petrov on podium during the last time and this time they had Nick Heidfeld who had a stunning race to finish 3rd. Renault’s decision to replace Kubica with Heidfeld has been vindicated and Heidfeld was the driver of the race and was actually 2nd during the early stages of the race after an amazing start. Petrov also had a good race till he crashed out but he has shown that he can race and if he continues his progress, then Renault can mix with the likes of McLaren and Ferrari.

Sauber once again showed that they have a very good car and though both Kobayashi and Pérez were disqualified in Melbourne for technical infringements but here in Sepang, Kobayashi once again drove a very exciting race and he fought hard with everyone and finished 8th. It is only a matter of time till one of the big teams will sign this Japanese driver. Perez did not have a great race but he has the potential and as the season progresses he should do well.

Mercedes after a horrible Australian GP looked set for an improvement at Sepang but they did open their account for this season with Michael Schumacher coming in 9th. Schumacher did show some of his old magic and if only he had the car he could be mixing with the guys at the top of the grid. Teammate Rosberg had a poor race and whatever reputation he gained during the last season will be gone quickly if he drives a few more races like he did today. Mercedes needs to up its game or else it will find itself battling the likes of Sauber and Force India rather than Renault, Ferrari and McLaren.

After seeing the way Paul di Resta drove today, we all should be wondering what was he doing in DTM for so long but he atleast managed to get a break this season and yet again finished 10th and got into point scoring position for Force India. Though the team’s car is lacking in pace compared to Sauber and even Toro Rosso, di Resta drove brilliantly and he is on course to become the rookie of the year if he continues to drive the same way. Teammate Sutil also had a good race and he managed to finish 11th importantly ahead of Rosberg and the Toro Rosso drivers.

Williams is having a catastrophic season and the way Rubens Barrichello, the most experienced driver on the grid is driving, they would wonder if they made a huge mistake in letting go Nico Hülkenberg. Williams ever since BMW left them have been on a downhill and the team also has made some mistakes when it came to drivers and engine suppliers and yet again this season instead of signing up with Renault they went with Cosworth. Pastor Maldonado despite brining in the money in the 2 races he has raced has shown that he does not belong on the grid.

Toro Rosso had a poor race as they do have a car which can challenge Sauber and which is better than Force India but both their drivers failed to score points. This resembles last season as the team had a decent start and they just tapered off during the middle part of the season. It is a very important season for both Sébastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari if their F1 careers have to continue.

Among the others who make up the numbers on the grid, Team Lotus despite their promising show during the testing has not really progressed beyond the tail-end of the grid while Virgin and HRT racing is just one bike joke. The teams are neither competitive nor doing something to improve it. Virgin despite backed by Sir Richard Branson should quit F1 as the CFD alone concept is not working and Branson should learn how to run an F1 team from other billionaires out there which is throw some money on the team. HRT’s shoestring budget set-up looks like it will not last the whole season. The team has decent drivers but the car is not even good enough to race in GP2. FIA should step in and throw the team out.

The next race will be in China next week and none of the teams will have time for any updates and given how RBR and Vettel have dominated so far, things should not change too much in China. Maybe a clever mix of strategy and some gutsy driving could have the likes of Hamilton and maybe even Heidfeld challenging Vettel.

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