Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Hamilton scores 2nd victory of the season. Without crashing into anyone.

Hamilton won the German GP and scored his 2nd victory of the season. But that's hardly news compared to the fact that he didn't crash into anyone. It was business at usual at Webber's end, scoring 4th consecutive 3rd place after losing advantage of starting from the pole. Given his current form, we reckon, even in a drag race he'd finish 3rd. British GP winner Fernando Alonso, finished 2nd.

Mark Webber started the race on pole but squandered the advantage at the first corner to his first row compatriot Lewis Hamilton. Webber's teammate Vettel also met with the same fate at first corner when 4th place Alonso overtook him. Few laps later, Vettel finally got the 3rd place back when Alonso ran wide, only to lose 2 places to Alonso & Massa when he went sightseeing on 10th lap. Since then Vettel went very much out of podium contention.

Just then Webber, Hamilton & Alonso's 3-way battle for the first place commenced. Webber made the first move overtaking Hamilton at the last corner of 12th lap but the Brit took back the lead at the following start/finish straight. While these two were busy swapping places, Alonso buried the pedal and got on Webber's tail. Just then it was time for first round of pit stops and Webber was the first among the leaders to pit at the end of 14th lap. Hamilton & Alonso pitted at the same time at the end of 16th lap and when they came out, Massa had taken the lead. At this point Ferrari chose to play their dumb card and brought Massa in at the end of the lap instead of keeping him out for a couple of laps to slow down Webber & Hamilton and give Alonso a chance to overtake them. Webber showed it to everyone that pitting early is an advantage hence Hamilton decided to follow him in the pit lane and came out banging wheels with him but Lewis' ruthless driving style made sure that Webber went wide and in the end Hamilton went ahead. At the end of that lap, race leader Alonso went in to change his tyres and came out just ahead of Hamilton but given the fact that he was on cold tyres, Hamilton overtook him and acquired the race lead, and went all the way to chequered flag, followed by Alonso and Webber, in that order.

This was not the only interesting battle, right behind them Vettel and Massa fought for the 4th place. Massa managed to keep the German behind him since lap 10 when Vettel went wide. 4th position would've stayed with Massa only had it not been for the goofup in the pits on the penultimate lap which saw Vettel go past the Ferrari driver. Massa & Vettle both had opted for Softs during the first 2 stops and were required to do one more stint on Hard Compound. They both pitted at the same time at the end of 58th lap and it was a race between the two pit crews which was ultimately won by Red Bull Racing when Ferrari's pit crew couldn't release Massa on time and costed him a certain 4th place.

Massa wasn't the only one who seemed to have got step motherly treatment while their teammate got red carpet. While Hamilton was racing himself to victory, elsewhere his teammate Button was being told over the radio to bring the car in and retire due to hydraulics failure. At that time he was in 6th position.

Button's retirement meant that Adrian Sutil took his place and got 8 precious points for Force India (20points) who inched closer to their nearest rival Sauber-Ferrari (35 points) in Constructors Championship who managed only 2 points from Kamui Kobayashi's 8th place finish.

India's only hope Karun Chandok who qualified in 20th place took only 4 laps to head to the back of the grid at 24th, that can only happen if you run your car in reverse or stand still. He did manage to get his car up in 20th position later on but only after 4 driver's crashed/retired. When Hamilton crossed the line, Chandok was 4 laps down and according to last known sources, while this blog was being published, he was still racing, rather strolling around Nurburgring.

Few points to ponder over:

Since's FIA deflated RBR's blown diffuser, Ferrari & McLaren have closed down the gap between the cars significantly in last two races. At Nurburgring, McLaren & Ferrari cars were 1st & 2nd, while RBR was 3rd. And had it not been for the pitlane goofup, second prancing horse would've crossed in 4th place as well, instead of Vettle's RBR, meaning, Ferrari was equally fast if not faster than RBR in the race. Ferrari managed top step of the podium at Silverstone as well. All in all, Ferrari & McLaren have started matching Red Bull's pace and that should be a cause of concern for the latter.

Having said that, Vettel can still sleep peacefully because, despite not being on top step of the podium in last 2 races, he still hasn't lost too many points. That is because, there is not one winner, but there are two. Alonso won at Silverstone while Hamilton won at 'Ring. Vettel is at 216 points while, Webber, Hamilton & Alonso at 139, 134 & 130 respectively, are all in 130s.
Vettel's earned 55 points in last 3 races while his teammate has earned 45 with three 3rd place results. Hamilton the other hand has earned 49points with a victory and two 4th place results. Out of the top four drivers, Alonso with a win and two 2nd place results has been the biggest gainer with 61 points. That means he gained 6 points over Vettel but he's still trailing by 86 points, while the remaining 3 drivers have been scoring less points than Vettel.

Even in the Constructor's Championship, RBR at this stage are pretty comfortable up ahead of McLaren & Ferrari, because while both Vettel and Webber have been scoring good points, in Ferrari and McLaren's stable only 1 out of the 2 drivers is doing good while the second driver have to meet with step motherly treatment. Massa & Button are not given same support that their teammates get that can make them equally competitive. It's still a mystery how always Button have a hydraulic failures or he's sent out with a lose tyre, while Hamilton gets a competitive car which can get him the top step of the podium.

But, even Vettel have a chink in his armour. The German has won only once while not starting from the front row. And given Ferrari & McLaren's new found pace, it won't be easy overtaking them.

Vettel's closest rival & his teammate Webber is doing decent enough but if he wants to throw a serious challenge to his German teammate, the Aussie will need to come of his comfort zone of 3rd place finish and show some serious mettle. He will need to get rid of his can't-keep-the-lead-past-the-first-corner tag and challenge Vettel's position of being best driver in the garage as well as the garage.

If Ferrari & McLaren or Alonso & Hamilton wants to challenge the Constructor's & Driver's crown they will HAVE TO give consistent results else at the current rate Sebastian Vettel will just run away with 2nd consecutive Driver's C'ship. Only time will tell...

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