> F1 2011: Race 2, Malaysia

F1 2011: Race 2, Malaysia

Posted on Sunday, April 10, 2011 | No Comments

After such a busy race, where does one start with the analysis of race 3 2 (yes, that will be the running joke throughout the season)?

 

There was so much speculation and second guessing in what the weather was going to do that it added such a great additional spice to the show.  But then after it failed to materialise, the race became all about tyre wear as I think so many of the races will be focused upon this year.

 

But it all started in Qualifying; Vettel vs Hamilton providing the entertainment and that last minute gasps for tenths of seconds.  Ferrari were left 5th and 7th after a frustrating session and openly admitted that the season was going to be long and they were already in ‘damage limitation mode’, which is quite the admission this early in the season from the team of the Prancing Horse.

 

Back to the race though, Alonso once again suffering with a terrible start trying to avoid Webbers bogged down Red Bull, allowing Massa to once again jump his team mate through the first couple of corners.  Vettel being Schumacher-esque from his Ferrari 2002 days scampering away a couple of second ahead at the start of the race.

 

What was truly amazing though was the start both Renaults (or should that be Lotuses) got off the line and dived straight into 2nd and 4th.  Reminding everyone that the old Renault team (when they were blue and gold in colour), have still got it when it comes to launching their cars off the line.

 

But then, but then, after the first phase of the race things swung wide open and Ferrari re-discovered some really good pace and what’s more were able to look after their tyres better than those around them, which played them into the race – going and growing ever more into the second phase, even with a bad stop for Felipe after trouble with a wheel nut on the front left tyre.

 

Amazingly, the Ferrari’s then seemed to be overtaking everyone and catching the McLarens.  It was at this phase of the race I was happily predicting a Ferrari 2nd and 3rd result.  But alas the pendulum swung and changed things again.

 

“I’m pushing, I’m pushing, don’t worry” – Alonso

 

Hamilton and Alonso were both catching Vettel and could have challenged, if only the third phase of the race hadn’t ruined the closing elements of such a good race.  Button somehow quietly made his way up into third ahead of Alonso after their third stops.

 

Then it all fell apart – Hamilton pitted early with a bad pit stop and then struggled to make his hard tyres work, then Alonso also suffered with an awful pit stop but being able to use his newer tyres far better was able to catch Hamilton and start the real racing….

 

…but it all ended in frustration after Alonso swiped across the back of Hamilton’s car managing to take his front wing off and forcing a fourth and final pit stop, dropping him behind Webber and Massa.  

 

Webber pulled out a move on Massa, who then inexplicitly put a lap time in 4 second off the pace (which makes me wonder if Massa really does have a problem losing his mojo following an overtaking move on him).  Alonso not giving up, kept his foot down following his nose cone change, Hamilton then needing a fourth and final pit stop then allowed Webber, Massa and Alonso to re-pass.

 

Petrov providing the ‘scary moment’ of the season thus far after what appeared to be a steering column failure.  Perez, the man of the moment from Australia, retired after a piece of bodywork from a Toro Rosso puts his Sauber out of the race.

 

But the final word has to go to Rubens Barrichello: before the race I tweeted for anyone willing to bet what lap Rubens would bin his car this week.  It wasn’t long (lap 3), before he suffered with a tyre puncture, before finally retiring 1 lap down on lap 25.  Surely this is his last season?

 

*************

 

Race two: Frustrating, but far more entertaining than Australia

Ferrari Result:

Alonso - 6th: Dejected and frustrated after Qualifying.  Terrible start again, which needs to be improved quickly.  But never gave up in the race and kept his foot down throughout; made a silly mistake trying to pass Hamilton, when he had the much faster car, so he needs to learn a bit more patience.  Should have been 2nd or 3rd today, but did well to recover to 6th all in all.

Massa - 5th: Fantastic start again by Massa getting in front of Alonso in the first couple of corners.  Seemed to be on the pace, over taking everyone using DRS.  But faded in the last phase of the race and seemed to lose his head after being passed by Webber. Far better from Massa for quite a while, lets hope it continues. 

Man of the Race: Difficult one this race, I was all set to give it to Alonso, but then he ruined it trying to pass Hamilton and breaking his wing.  Webber was impressive to recover and Heidfeld bounced back really well from his terrible time in Oz.  But Button kept out of trouble and quietly raced his way into 2nd today, keeping everything together – and that is why he’s my man of the race today.

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